Telstra's more than just phones: Switkowski

Telstra chief executive officer, Ziggy Switkowski is firmly behind the privatisation of the billion-dollar telecommunications organisation.

Speaking at Now99, the Australian Telecommunications User Group annual conference in Sydney yesterday, Switkowski said it would be in the best interests of the customers, communications industry and country to fully privatise Telstra.

"It is true the current situation could continue, with the commonwealth government owning about two thirds of Telstra.

But that would mean that the commonwealth government owned about 13 per cent of the value of the Australia stock market. This would represent about $60 to $70 billion of, in effect, borrowed money being punted on one stock - Telstra," Switkowski said.

"I find it hard to believe this situation can continue to be argued. Such faith in Telstra is very flattering but no reasonable investment advisor in the world would recommend it.

"The question must not be whether Telstra will be fully privatised, but when," he said.

Continued majority government ownership of Telstra would also limit offshore expansion, Switkowski said, adding that while the organisation is considering offshore ventures, nothing consequential has happened at this stage.

In his speech, Switkowski also redefined Telstra's mission as more than just a telephone company.

"We are an electronic information services company, with multimedia, e-mail, data, mobiles and wireless and the Internet, defining the new Telstra," Switkowski said.

"We are not seeking to provide the full range of services to a few targeted segments of the marketplace - we are aiming to be the provider of choice available to all Australians - that is our legacy and that is our destiny," he said.

According to Switkowski the future of Telstra lies in becoming a "globally significant, full-service communications company", competing on a national and international front.

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