Govt promises extra funds from Telstra sale

In a last-minute effort to secure the sale of another 16 per cent of Telstra, the federal government yesterday announced the allocation of more than $300 million in extra social spending.

According to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Alston, providing the next 16.66 per cent sale of Telstra is passed, extra funding for employment, business, research and development, education and information services will be allocated for all states and territories.

In what can been seen as a move to secure Tasmanian Independent Senator Brian Harradine's vote, Tasmania is a significant winner in the offer, receiving close to one-third of the extra funding.

According to Alston, in addition to other funding allocations, $40 million has been earmarked to develop Tasmania as the "Intelligent Island", a project to develop an internationally competitive IT&T sector in Tasmania.

Other projects throughout the country that will benefit from the extra funding include:

- Building on IT Strengths (BITS) program - $158 million- Networking the Nation Local Government Fund - $45 million- Building Addition Rural Networks (BARN) - $70 million- Expanded mobile phone coverage - $28 million- Trials in Innovative Government Electronic Regional Services (TIGERS) - $10 million- Natural Heritage Trust - $250 million- Television fund - $120 millionThe sale of a further 16 per cent of Telstra is estimated to raise more than $16 billion.

It is understood when the Senate resumes today, the Telstra bill will be high on the list of priorities.

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