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No Telstra chair for Richard Alston

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Those Australians who value their telecommunications infrastructure will be delighted to hear that former federal communications minister Richard Alston has ruled himself out of the running for the vacant Telstra chair.

As we reported last week, Alston seemed to have the backing of Aussie PM John Howard to step into the shoes of Bob Mansfield, but has now stated for the record that: "I'm quite enjoying doing what I'm doing right now, and I don't think I'll be putting my hand up."

So, sighs of relief all round, not least from federal Opposition communications spokesman Lindsay Tanner. Tanner had already condemned the proposed appointment as the equivalent of "putting Chopper Read in charge of the prison system".

Telstra, meanwhile, has appointed deputy chairman John Ralph to cover while headhunters scour the Lucky Country for a new supremo.

As for Alston, it's a bit of mystery what exactly the retired firebrand is doing right now. One thing is certain, however: with all that time on his hands, no cotton-weaving mill or labour-saving piece of agricultural machinery is safe from the man they call the "World's Biggest Luddite". ®

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