The Australian government has revealed that it will push back the planned sale of national health insurer Medibank until 2008 to avoid a clash with the upcoming state divestment of telecoms outfit Telstra.

The decision to delay the estimated A$2 billion stock sale comes less than a month after it emerged that Canberra was reconsidering the divestment of Medibank, having previously rejected the idea in 2003.

The Australian government said in August that it would look into organizing a sale with a view to reaching firm plans by the end of the year. The renewed consideration comes after a sustained period of financial recovery by the state insurer, which the Australian government concludes had made Medibank a credible divestment option once again.

However, a sale in the near future has now been rejected because of concerns that it will interfere with the imminent privatization of state telecoms firm Telstra. Instead, Medibank’s sale will be rescheduled for sometime in 2008.

While the Australian government insists the stock sale will go ahead, the new timetable will now afford the public the opportunity to register their dissatisfaction with the plan. According to Reuters, two-thirds of Australians oppose the sale and they will now have the opportunity to register their opposition now that the divestment will not take place until after the next Australian general election.