The TV News 

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 February 18 2003
MPs showered in Telstra presents (Links on this page live at 15-2-2003)
Luke McIlveen reported on the News website on February 13, 2003 that Telstra has showered key decision-makers in the federal Government with gifts ranging from plasma televisions to weekends away at an exclusive winery.

The Prime Minister was forced to defend his acceptance of a $10,000 television from Telstra. Ian Campbell, Parliamentary Secretary for the Treasurer had a free winery visit and John Farnham concert at Telstra's expense. They took him to a Roberta Flack concert in 2001. Communications Minister Richard Alston also accepted a $10,000 plasma TV on loan from Telstra. Nice being a pollie. Jan went to the John Farnham concert too.  But it cost his daughter over a hundred dollars for the gift for Jan and Ms Jan's wedding anniversary and there was no free winery visit thrown in.

On February 11 2003, Linda McSweeny also reported on the News website that TELSTRA lent Communications Minister Richard Alston a plasma wide screen digital television worth an estimated $10,000 so he could watch sport at home. He has had it around 14 months, which seems to Jan a pretty permanent sort of loan for something that expensive, although one of 
Alston's aides said the TV was on "short term loan" according to McSweeney!  Perhaps the minister is taking a long and thorough look at the latest TV technology to help decide what our latest IT policy should be in Australia.  

McSweeney reports he said "As others have rightly said to me from time to time, how can you make judgements about these things if you don't know what you are talking about? At least I am now in a position to know what it looks like and what value it adds. And I think I can say high action sport, particularly on a wide screen, is obviously attractive and that explains why the take up rate of wide screen sets has been impressive. And if you want me to make decisions from an informed knowledge, then I'm in a position to do it." Jan thought the same about wide screen sets, actually, but he watched them in Radio Rentals and David Jones. It seemed to Jan after five minutes of a Matrix trailer that wide screen TV is very cool; he won't need to have one at home suffering a further 14 month agony of indecision to report this to you with some confidence.

Apparently the loan was approved by the Prime Minister and declared on the senators' interest register in September last year.  

In The Australian's IT News on Feb 12 Matt Price quoted  Labor MP Lindsay Tanner as saying ministers must "commit mass murder or gang rape" these days to find themselves in breach of John Howard's code of conduct.

But we should not be too hard on the poor men. On radio the Communications Minister spoke of the difficult ethical decision he had faced over the TV. "You can expose yourself to criticism and possibly the easy way out is just say no and you remain ignorant." This to John Laws.



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