Thursday, 25 November 2010
Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010
Mr McCrann’s credibility may not be very strong on the other side of the chamber, but there are other people who have a not dissimilar perspective. I cite once again the writing of Kevin Morgan in today’s Australian. Mr Morgan served on Kim Beazley’s ministerial committee on telecommunications reform. So, he is not a plant; he is someone who, one would think, has some credibility on the other side of the chamber. In his contribution to the debate, Mr Morgan asked:
Was it worth holding out for and is the sketchy outline of the NBN’s business case sufficient to warrant the independent senator, and indeed the Senate at large, supporting the passage of the most far-reaching changes seen in any telecommunications market?
He was asking the essential question. His answer is simple:
Scarcely. The summary adds little to our understanding of the economics of the NBN that is not already outlined in the $25 million McKinsey implementation study, other than to stress the importance to the NBN of an effective national monopoly.
As I have done in relation to Mr Stutchbury’s article, I commend this article to the Senate and, in particular, to those on the government side. Mr Morgan says that this $43 billion enterprise—or is it $50 billion or is it a greater amount of money?—if it works, will only have the capacity to return any money to the government because at its core is a monopoly. At the very core of this enterprise is legislation which precludes the thing which has made Australia competitive, the thing which has made Australia a strong economy in the context of a world where economies are failing. A commitment to reform by not just one government but a succession of governments has put Australia into a position of economic strength. At the very core of that, at the very least, has been a commitment to productivity gains and at the very core of those productivity gains has been the capacity of the economy to produce competition. That is what we ought to be thinking about as we pass this legislation, as we think about this legislation, as we contemplate the consequences of this legislation. We ought to be thinking about the consequences of depriving the telecommunications industry of competition. Competition is central to the progress we have made over the last 25 years and it allowed us to come through the GFC. (Time expired)