Tuesday, November 19, 2002

This might find a piquant resonance with many in Britain ... but probably not the salary bloated executives of British Telecom. Currently the only hurdle facing the Australian Government which desperately wants to flog "the people's" remaining stake in our phone company is the lobbying from "the bush" which is the constituency of the National Party, the Liberal Party's coalition partner in government. The promise is (for what it's worth!) that the remaining government owned part of Telstra will not be flogged off to the corporate vultures until Telstra is up to scratch with its services to rural areas. (About 90% of the country.)

How awkward it is to find that the CEO of Telstra who lives in the heart of Melbourne in Toorak, the Oz equivalent of Mayfair, has to attach an old wire coat hanger to his back fence so the poor bugger can get decent mobile (cell) phone reception so as to order his stockbroker to "Sell, sell, sell! And when you've done that, sell a shit load more."

Ha! Hoist on his own pet 'ard on.

Poor mobile reception?

Ziggy knows exactly how you feel.

Ziggy advises the minister for flogging off the phone company ...
"you can always move to Toorak."

FROM THE GALLERY by Mike Seccombe. November 19 2002.

Some people have to move house, it seems, to get decent service from Telstra. Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski for one.

So Richard Alston told the Senate yesterday - and he should know. Ziggy and Dick used to be neighbours in Kew, Melbourne.

But Ziggy, Alston said, had "moved away from Kew because of poor mobile reception".

Now, it might strike some people as funny that the CEO of Telstra - who's been trying desperately to convince a sceptical public that Telstra services are up to scratch - should have major service trouble himself.

But it gets funnier. After Ziggy moved out of Kew because of the poor mobile service, he bought a $3 million mansion in Toorak which had it all - pool, tennis court, the lot. Everything - except decent mobile service from Telstra.

"It looks," Alston told the Senate, "as though he has found somewhere even worse."

Alston was answering (very badly) a question from Labor's Robert Ray, which in turn was based on the Herald's report on Saturday that Ziggy had Telstra install a special "microcell" transmitter in his backyard to fix his problem. Ray wanted to know the cost of installing the microcell, and who paid.

Of, course, Alston did not answer. Instead he defended the right of Ziggy and, by extension, other rich folks to special treatment. "I do not see anything particularly wrong with a company wanting to ensure that its CEO is able to get good reception," he said.

"If there is any one person in Telstra who might be entitled to have good quality coverage, it is the CEO."

Ray then asked what message this sent to other Telstra customers with the same problem but lacking the resources and clout of Ziggy.

Well, said Dick, who is not at all elitist, "you cannot pretend that somehow Dr Switkowski, as CEO of pretty much the largest company in Australia, is just an ordinary citizen".

And he repeated it: "I do not accept the proposition that he is just another citizen."

Anyway, he pointed out, the cell, which has a range of about 200 metres, did not just benefit Ziggy. Why, ordinary citizens in nearby mansions would also get improved services.

"That microcell is obviously something that Telstra can install in other places ..." said Dick, causing an eruption of interjections from the Opposition. "Why haven't they?" and "What about the bush?" And so on.

Alston ignored them, except to invite them to move to Toorak to live among the telephonically privileged.

"All you have to do is buy a little piece of dirt, and we might be able to make some special arrangements for you."
Another gratuitous quote nicked from somewhere:- "I got a sweater for Christmas...I really wanted a screamer or a moaner. "