Telstra execs cop a beating

solI’m not normally a watcher of A Current Affair, but Kate finds it entertaining and I sometimes sit down to have a laugh at the story topics… dodgy plumbers, reincarnations of the Paxtons, miracle hair treatments and how much a comparison shopping basket costs in four different supermarkets.

But tonight it was Telstra execs in the firing line, over a $1.4million junket to Lindeman Island. According to spokesman Rod Bruem, lavish executive junkets are an unavoidable part of modern business because Telstra’s competitors send their movers and shakers on even more grossly indulgent company-paid holidays to overseas destinations.

I can believe that execs might be rewarded with holidays from time to time, but I can’t believe any of Telstra’s competitors take the same approach of booking out an entire island for so all the execs can frolic in the waves in privacy together.

Current affairs programs do have a tendency to grossly oversimplify stories and quote so selectively as to misrepresent people on a regular basis, but Telstra’s media spokesman did himself no favours by saying, “the real question is: why are you singling out Telstra?”

No, Rod, the real question is: how can Telstra justify to its shareholders spending nearly $1.5million on an executive junket, despite the dramatic slide in Telstra’s stock price?

This week’s AFR Magazine also had a 5510 word expose on Sol Trujillo (available for $3.30 online). I have to admit it was so damaging that I wondered whether it bordered on being defamatory by imputation. The story is accompanied by posterized pictures of Sol that make him look Hitleresque.

Some quotes from the story:

“You could hear a pin drop back in Colorado too, where Trujillo’s every move is watched by the legions of US West retgirees whose pensions bit the dust after he sold the firm to Qwest and caught the bus himself.”

“… when George Bush won the Republican nomination, Trujillo followed. He was listed among the top fund-raisers for Bush in 2000, winning the title of ‘Pioneer’. Pioneers and Rangers are honorary titles bestowed on those who collected at least $US100,000 or $US200,000 respectively for Bush. They were the ‘big money bundlers’.”

“Trujillo was one of 220 Pioneers who successfully met the target $US100,000 in the face of federal limits on contributions of $2,000 per person. Whitehouseforsale.org lists Trujillo under the heading Corporate Cronies and reprots he was among those subsequently rewarded by Bush with special favours and appointments.”

“If Trujillo quits for ‘good reason’, Telstra promises him two years of his base salary [$3million per year] if he goes in the first year, and one year’s pay if he quits after that.”

It’s hard to convey the essence of the story in a few selected quotes. It’s good reading… your $3.30 will be well spent.

Stuart Corner has published a good analysis of the story here.

(Thumbnail of Nicholson’s amusing “Crazy John meets Crazy Sol” cartoon pilfered with apologies. Click on the thumbnail to see the full-sized cartoon on Nicholson’s website.)

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