Profit Return -- the silent partner in Telstra fracas.

Nationals Senator, Barnaby Joyce, tells the nation "I was never any good at maths but the sale of Telstra punches up right with me. It's the very bestest deal on offer for the bush."
Thanks Barnaby. Your huffing and puffing there for time was a real ... treat. Us city folk sat on our hands the whole time just watching what was the best show in town -- Barnaby's Choyce. I mean what's the sale got to do with us? It's just the Cockies kicking up a stink, isn't it? What do they know, let alone care, about the big picture?

PASSING CHARTERED PRACTISING ACCOUNTANT: I will attend to the details later. For the moment, pristine and unadorned I thought I'd let the crude sums sink in.(Raises a flash card)
The biggest Australian-based corporate profit earners
BHP Billiton

2005 profit $8.60bn
2004 profit $4.94bn
2005 profit $4.45bn
2004 profit $4.12bn
Mull on that for the mo. And then when you've had your fill, consider the following:

QUESTION 1: And what is the name of the company with the third biggest profit this year (so far)?

While you are thinking, we'll take a break.

[FX: Advertisement for state assets auction goes in here]

BUZZZZZZZ! Give up? Time's up. Any guesses?

ANSWER: Commonwealth Bank. 2005 profit $3.99bn. (another privatised company)

QUESTION 2: Tell us all again: Exactly why is Telstra being privatised?

Do you have any idea at all? Come now, you must be able to think of something. You read the papers don't you? I'm sorry, "because it can" won't do. I tell you what: you go away, do your homework, and think about it some more -- then come back and tell us the answer. We'll wait right here.

SUPPLEMENTARY (easy bonus) QUESTION 3: Who sold off the Commonwealth Bank?

Great name that, eh? "Common - Wealth" . Our common wealth. Makes you feel you've got a stake in something. Great PR. If you know the answer, make sure you only whisper it or write it out on a slip of paper and pass it to me as a note. Shush. Mum's the word. Between you, me and the lamp post the answer's safe between us and we won't tell a soul...

I thank Peter Boyle for these figures and will attend to their import next time I post here.