/>
X
Business

Politicians need to be RFID tagged: Burgess

Telstra spin-doctor Phil Burgess gave one of his final speeches today during a luncheon held at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, slinging off amusing stories that included a road trip on a Harley Davidson and RFID tagging politicians to mark his 38 months, 10 days and 14 hours in Australia — but who's counting?
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor on

Telstra spin-doctor Phil Burgess gave one of his final speeches today during a luncheon held at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, slinging off amusing stories that included a road trip on a Harley Davidson and RFID tagging politicians to mark his 38 months, 10 days and 14 hours in Australia — but who's counting?

In this podcast of the speech, Burgess recalls when Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo first came to Australia and they went to a cattle station to observe an RFID system that kept track of data such as cows' names, what they had eaten, and their parentage.

As Burgess and Trujillo left, they were impressed, and Burgess suggested another use for the new technology.

"In fact I told Sol afterwards, I said, you know what we ought to do, is do that with pollies. As soon as you get elected you get one of these little RFID tags in your ear. You have all the promises you know, and maybe every Christmas you say: did you keep your promise or didn't you keep your promise, decide if they get coal in their sock or not," he said.

After that trip, Burgess said Sol had an epiphany, deciding to move next generation networks up on Telstra's agenda. In August 2005, Burgess related, Telstra went and presented its idea for a national broadband network to parliament, where nothing happened.

The experience seemed to have called up prior romantic experiences for Burgess.

"It was like ... if you're giving somebody a kiss and they just stand there. You don't know if they liked it, they want more, they don't want anything, you don't know what it is. So, we kept kissing and nothing happened. So finally we just walked away and started doing our own thing," he said.

Burgess also explained why he believes reviews upon reviews on the broadband network won't help the government "get it right". Instead, he said, the government needs to start the build and make alterations when problems occur.

"I know after 30 years of being married, I can be 10 minutes late and it doesn't make any difference. Fifteen minutes — I'm in trouble, but it took me a long time and a lot of grief to find that out. And that's the way, that's the way the real world operates," he joked.

This know-how has perhaps helped him in his relationship with Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Graeme Samuel.

"Contrary to popular opinion not only do Graeme Samuel and I get along, I like him. I think we like each other. I don't ask him: 'Do you like me Graeme?', but I think we respect each other. I actually enjoy Graeme Samuel," Burgess said.

However, this chumminess didn't extend to his competitors, with Burgess saying that if Telstra built the national broadband network, he would expect Optus to roll out competing infrastructure in the cities, because that was what Telstra would do.

"You don't try to jump in bed with them and have a Kumbaya. You know, you try to beat them," Burgess said.

Anyone looking to force separation on Telstra would also get a kick in the teeth for their troubles according to Burgess, who told the audience what would happen if separation suddenly became mandatory.

"If by some quirk, people try to push things in that direction then Mallesons are going to have big bonuses," he said.

Mallesons Stephen Jaques' partner Neil Carabin presented Burgess with a parting gift, an Australian film which apparently reflected Burgess's view of Australia and the influence he has had on the country: Mad Max.

Get a job!
During the US spring break, Burgess told the attendees about a road trip he took with his son on Harley Davidson motor bikes. The pair were clad in black and his jacket had a sign that read "death or freedom".

According to Burgess, while standing at a traffic light during the jaunt, a lady in a car next to him looked him up and down in disdain and asked him, "Why don't you get a job!" He said, "If anyone has any ideas I'm in the market now."

Editorial standards

Related

The 21 best Black Friday deals under $30 ahead of Cyber Monday
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The 21 best Black Friday deals under $30 ahead of Cyber Monday

The 51 best early Cyber Monday deals on Amazon
Image of Amazon Echo Show 8 on a wooden table in front of a person cooking and folding pastry dough.

The 51 best early Cyber Monday deals on Amazon

The 62 best Black Friday deals at Costco ahead of Cyber Monday
LG 65" Class - QNED80 Series

The 62 best Black Friday deals at Costco ahead of Cyber Monday