Senior Telstra Executive Quits
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The controversial head of Telstra’s communication division Dr Phil Burgess has quit and is returning to the USA.

The controversial head of Telstra’s communication division Dr Phil Burgess has quit and is returning to the USA.

A US national Burgess got right up the noses of the Howard government in particular former Communications Minister Helen Coonan.

The former Telstra public policy chief transformed Telstra from being a “toe the government line” organisation to one that had a voice and was not afraid of disagreeing with government policy decisions.

Telstra’s Chief Executive Officer, Sol Trujillo said “I have always valued Phil’s advice and his principled approach to public policy and communications. Phil has great integrity and has not been afraid to show leadership, often speaking the truth even when it was inconvenient for established interests to hear it,” Mr Trujillo said.

“Phil has consistently spoken out with great passion and courage, articulating how a national high-speed broadband network would produce enormous benefits for communities and the national economy.

“Phil has made a very large positive impact on the culture and success of Telstra, and like all employees I am grateful to him for the leadership he showed.” Mr Trujillo announced that the new Group Managing Director, Public Policy & Communications, would be David Quilty, who has been Telstra’s Director of Government Relations since January 2006.


Telstra say that Dr Burgess will return to his home in Annapolis, Maryland, in early September to support his wife, Mary Sue, whose mother is seriously ill, and to resume his life as an advisor to business and government on matters related to technology and society, a life he put on hold to join Sol Trujillo and Telstra three years ago. Dr Burgess has been Group Managing Director, Public Policy & Communications, since July

2005. He has been responsible for regulatory affairs, government relations, media relations, corporate affairs and the $5.5 million Telstra Foundation.

“The last three years have been enormously consequential for Telstra and Australia – with the full privatisation of Telstra, construction of the world’s largest, fastest, and most advanced wireless broadband network and the transformation of Telstra into the world’s first next generation, fully-integrated telco,” Dr Burgess said.

“Working in a country and culture not your own is an enormous privilege – and working for one of its iconic companies is a privilege amplified. My time in Australia and with Telstra has been

one of the most memorable experiences of my life, both personally and professionally. I came here expecting to stay for 1-2 months. Three years later, Mary Sue and I leave having been

welcomed guests in this wonderful country.”

Dr Burgess said he was proud to have increased the capacity of Telstra to communicate with consumers and the public, represent shareholder interests, put high-speed broadband on the

agenda three years ago, and transform the way the company communicated both internally and externally. “It was hard for some to give up the idea that Telstra is community property. The cultural

change required by privatisation was difficult – both for Telstra and for the government,” Dr Burgess said.


“Though we were criticised by some, our new approach achieved important results, including safeguarding new investments like Next GTM and ADSL2+ from value-destroying regulation, winding back regulation on more than four million copper telephone lines, and the reversal of a $1 billion taxpayer gift to SingTel-Optus,” he said. Telstra’s Chief Executive Officer, Sol Trujillo, thanked Dr Burgess for his enormous contribution to Telstra over the past three years.

“Phil Burgess has prosecuted Telstra’s interests passionately and with great effectiveness since his arrival three years ago, and I pay tribute to his extraordinary leadership and commitment,”

Mr Quilty said. “Telstra will continue to put the interests of its shareholders, customers and employees first and foremost both publicly and in our dealings with all stakeholders.”

Dr. Burgess, who will serve as a consultant to Telstra and advisor to the CEO, will return to The Annapolis Institute in September where he will resume research, writing and speaking on issues

related to technology and society. He has also been appointed as a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Digital Future at the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he will address the impact of the Internet and advanced communications technologies on consumer behaviour, business practices and community development in the US and around the globe.