February 18, 2005
Agreeing with your opponents
I don't agree with John Howard on a lot of his policies but I wholeheartedly applaud his intervention to "encourage" Telstra to re-instate its funding of the Lifeline telephone service. This service has made a huge difference to thousands of lives and it's one that we wholeheartedly support and regularly donate to.
Of course, Telstra's decision to cut the funding is further evidence of the foul penny-pinching stench that eminates from this monolithic corporation. Coupled with the surcharge recently imposed for paying telephone bills by credit card, it reveals a "make the customer pay as much as possible" mentality, which is perfectly justified on business grounds but makes for very poor corporate social responsibility. Australia's biggest and most politicised enterprise should have more PR sense.
In any case, giving credit where it's due, well done John Howard. It's just a pity that you won't have the same influence after you've sold the rest of Telstra to private investors*. Then the Telstra board can and will operate completely in their own self-interest, keepng their social obligations to the bare minimum with which they can get away.
*Disclosure: I own shares in Telstra.
Incidentally, I also completely agree with Helen Clark's veto of John Farnham's "performance" at Gallipoli on the 90th anniversary of that battle. I feel significantly icky about the notion of the silence and solemnity of a "killing field", as Helen Clark called it, being broken by anything else.
That's not to say John couldn't turn up and start some spontaneous singing among the people there but not as a staged event (but I bet he won't). From what I've heard from people who have attended previously, the silence is one of the most striking aspects of the place.
I'd also like to note that this is a typically insensitive and club-headed initiative from the current government, and I'd like to be giving JH more credit for stamping it out in the next few days ... (feel sorry for Farnham, though)Posted by Hughie at February 18, 2005 8:38 AM