Minchin To Postpone Telstra Sales Junket
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Finance Minister Nick Minchin plans to postpone a highly publicised overseas trip to spruik investment in T3.

Senator Nick Minchin was to have travelled to Japan and Europe later this month to gauge interest in the proposed T3 sale of the government’s remaining share in Telstra.

However, a spokesperson for the Finance Minister has now told Bloomberg that the planned trip will be delayed while the ongoing regulatory wrangling is sorted out.

“The trip has been postponed to enable regulatory issues to be addressed,” Matthew Doman, Minchin’s spokesman, told the Bloomberg reporter. “We still expect to make the trip at a later stage.”

The revelation comes on the back of heightened uncertainty over the pricing of ULL access with the ACCC recently rejecting Telstra’s proposal for a flat-rate pricing regime.

Perhaps more importantly, the US Government this week also weighed in on the regulatory debate with the a report into telecommunications trade agreements in which it expressed concern about Telstra’s fight over ULL and its attempts to undermine the authority of the ACCC by appealing directly to Senator Coonan’s Department of Communications, Information Technology, and the Arts (DCITA) for relief.

“To date, the DCITA has deferred to the ACCC on pricing decisions [but] Telstra has worked actively to minimise the scope of safeguards designed to ensure that it offers competitors access to key parts of its networks on terms equivalent to those Telstra offers itself (operational separation) and to curb reforms concerning the structure and level of pricing for unbundled local loops – wholesale inputs that competitors have begun to use to compete against Telstra in local voice and data markets,” the USTR said.

Telstra executives have been trying their hardest to make it impossible for the Government to sell its share in the Telco under the existing anti-competition regulatory regime talking down the company’s future revenue prospects at every opportunity and driving the company’s share price down nearly 30 per cent since Chief Executive Sol Trujilo took control last year.

This week the ACCC released its latest review of Telstra’s wholesale margin activities and found that although the company priced its wholesale products in such a way that it was possible for resellers to make a profit on National and International calls it had squeezed resellers on fixed-line rentals a key part of the ULL product offering.