Get ready for the bells and whistles - the Howard government is planning a $20 million advertising blitz to sell its Telstra float.

The campaign will provide some much-needed positive publicity for the government's sale of $8 billion worth of its 51.8 per cent stake in Telstra.

The impending float has been overshadowed by an increasingly bitter brawl between the government and Telstra executives.

They've been at odds over the pay packet of the telco's head honcho Sol Trujillo, as well as over the government's plan to install former Howard adviser Geoff Cousins on its board.

Telstra caused a stir this week when it announced Mr Trujillo would receive nearly $9 million for his first year in the job, which includes a $2.6 million incentive payment, despite the company's plummeting share price.

Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello have asked questions about the salary package, suggesting the board needs to be able to justify it to shareholders.

Mr Howard urged shareholders to quiz the company about the multi-million dollar salary at Telstra's annual meeting in November.

I would hope that there are questions asked about it at the annual meeting, he said.

The prime minister believes Telstra has to explain how Mr Trujillo is worth so much.

It is a huge salary by anybody's language, Mr Howard said.

It's about four times what his predecessor was paid and he was paid a big salary by community standards.

Whenever the salary is very high, and his salary is very high, there does need to be an adequate explanation.

But Mr Howard stopped short of following his backbenchers in calling for Mr Trujillo to be sacked.

The government will hope the brawling won't deter investors who may want to invest in its T3 float, which will open on October 23.

Finance Minister Nick Minchin announced that the government would begin promoting the share float on Monday and will launch the offer and prospectus a week later, on October 9.

After the launch, it will begin a $20 million television, radio, print and internet advertising blitz to sell the offer.

The government will set up a website and hotline for people who want to get their hands on the Telstra sale documents.

Like previous Telstra floats, Senator Minchin said investors would be able to pay for the stock in two instalments over 18 months.

Retail investors - like the mum and dad shareholders burnt in the T2 sale - will get a discount on the price paid by financial institutions.

But they won't know how much of incentive there will be to buy the Telstra stock until they see the prospectus.

The price of the first instalment and the size of the retail discount will be detailed in the prospectus along with the benefits and risks of the investment, Senator Minchin said.