Alston snubs conference

The Federal Minister for the Information Economy, Senator Richard Alston, is snubbing the world's most prestigious Web conference by reneging on a commitment to attend it.

"It is massively disappointing," said Dr Allan Ellis, co-chairman of the Seventh International World Wide Web conference (WWW7).

"You have to wonder where his department has its focus if it can't see a golden opportunity to focus the international community on Australian issues at a conference of this size and importance."

Due to open April 14 in Brisbane, the five-day conference expects 3500 IT delegates from 25 countries, including Internet legends such as Web co-founder Tim Berners-Lee and Java developer James Gosling.

Senator Alston gave no reason for abandoning his long-standing commitment to deliver the speech.

Telstra for the people!

Telstra is on the path to becoming a fully-privatised corporation, after Prime Minister John Howard last month declared his intention to sell the remaining two-thirds of the giant telco after the next election.

Howard said the legislation would be introduced in this session of parliament, but would only operate after the election.

That would give voters the chance to signal their approval or disapproval for the sale, he said.

Under Howard's plan, foreign ownership in Telstra will be restricted to 35 per cent, with no single foreign interest allowed more than a 5 per cent share.

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