P.M. BRIEFING : Australia Opens Phone Market

From Times Wire Services

The Labor government said today that it plans to end the state monopoly of telecommunications by inviting overseas companies to compete in the domestic telephone market.

Domestic telephone company Telecom will be merged with OTC, which runs overseas communications, Prime Minister Bob Hawke told reporters.

The debt-laden Aussat satellite group will be sold, probably to foreign interests, to form the basis of a competitor to the giant Telecom/OTC.

Hawke announced the plan after talks with top ministers, who last week decided to sell at least 49% of the domestic Australian Airlines and international carrier Qantas.

"We will have a full-on competitor to Telecom. It will bring greater international competition, greater efficiency and increased research and development," Hawke said.

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