Telstra picks new leader for bush advisory board

Telstra has appointed a grazier and rural industry leader as chairman of its Country Wide advisory board, a key post as the carrier seeks to secure support from rural and regional Australia ahead of its planned full sale.Queensland local resident, Jenny Russell, will take over from Donald McGauchie as chairman of Telstra's regional group which, the carrier said, has been "instrumental in improving Telstra's reach in rural and regional Australia".

Telstra has appointed a grazier and rural industry leader as chairman of its Country Wide advisory board, a key post as the carrier seeks to secure support from rural and regional Australia ahead of its planned full sale.

Queensland local resident, Jenny Russell, will take over from Donald McGauchie as chairman of Telstra's regional group which, the carrier said, has been "instrumental in improving Telstra's reach in rural and regional Australia".

McGauchie, now chairman of the Telstra board, announced the appointment following a board meeting in early February. Russell, who has been a member of the advisory board since its inception in 2000, has been appointed chairman for two years.

McGauchie said Russell will play an important role in engaging regional communities and providing advice on telecommunication priorities from a rural leader's point of view. The government has pledged that the quality of Telstra's services to the bush will meet certain benchmarks before the sale of the remainder of the carrier proceeds.

Russell's public service has included participation on a number of industry forums and advisory groups, such as the inaugural Rural Women's Advisory Council, the Regional Australia Summit in 1999, and the Queensland Government's Private Sector Economic Advisory Committee.

Today's appointment follows the recent release of the Country Wide advisory board's fourth annual report by the Minister for Communication, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan.

The report highlighted the impact of Telstra Country Wide in regional Australia through "the introduction of technologies, customer service and general support for rural communities".

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