Pull the other leg, Henry

Jason Soon’s employer Henry Ergas in today’s Australian newspaper:

SENATOR Richard Alston’s announcement that legislation will be introduced to sell off the 50.1 per cent of Telstra that is government-owned could create a more dynamic and competitive telecommunications market.

Sure Henry. Just like selling the Commonwealth Bank created a more dynamic and competitive banking sector, and selling Qantas created a more dynamic and competitive airline sector. Moreover, unlike Telstra in its fixed telephony infrastructure, neither of them were monopolies. Telstra doesn’t have any competitors Henry, except the almost insolvent Optus in a tiny part of Australia.

Of course, the situation is quite different with Telstra’s interests in mobile telephony, data/Internet, cable TV and overseas telcos. They could quite appropriately be sold off 100% to the private sector. However, there is no reasonable case whatever for selling off any further part of the public interest in Telstra’s core fixed telephony infrastructure.

This is a classic example of blind neo-liberal dogma overwhelming rationality. Hopefully the Senate will tell Howard to jam it where the sun don’t shine, along with his media reforms. There’s no real doubt now that Howard is constructing the scene for a double dissolution election, so let’s bring it on. The starker the choice on what sort of Australia we want to live in, the better. Any competent Labor leader will wipe the floor with Howard, given all these appalling and unpopular Bills. Wait a minute! What am I saying? Simon the Unlikeable!? Aaargh!!!!

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Ken,

Henry Ergas is a consultant to Telstra, according to his little bio in the Australian. So he mightn’t be motivated so much by a desire to spruik neo-liberal dogma, more a desire to spruik his client’s (and by his extension, his own) commercial interests.

Where you stand depends on where you sit.

There’s only one way to create a more dynamic and competitive telecommunications market, and that is to separate Telstra’s core network from its retail businesses.

By the way, I understand your argument that it’s OK to privatise some of Telstra’s businesses, because they face some competition. But why include cable TV? Murpack and Telstra own Foxtel, which has no competitors. (And, please, don’t tell me that Optus TV provides compeitition. Optus TV is a joke.) It’s a disgrace that Telstra, as the owner of the cable, can also own 50% of Australia’s dominant Pay TV business.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Dave,

What does it matter who paid him surely it is the research and conclusions that matter.

I don’t care who pays who I only care about the quality of the work done.

It is very easy to see if the person has allowed themselves to be a harlot or not by their work!!

bargarz
2022 years ago

Trust factor in government, ZERO.
Faith factor in Telstra’s board allocating future service a over profit… don’t make me laugh.

bargarz
2022 years ago

Ahhh

I meant “Faith factor in Telstra’s board allocating future service a PRIORITY over profit… don’t make me laugh”

Blogger is down for me so I can’t blog in the short term. Meanwhile, this pic is still worth a giggle regardless of your politics.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Ken,

I’m curious about what appears on your part to be a persistent assumption of a rational and perhaps unidimensional policy and political process; i.e. if the Howard government pushes up a pile of impractical-ideological and unpopular bills, it will fall in a double dissolution (assuming a competent Labor leader).

This strikes me as a case of admirable optimism encouraging historical denial. As far as I can see, His Darkness has become an authentic master of political agenda management. In particular, he seems to be able to dictate the political foreground virtually at will. As far as I can see, it won’t matter two hoots what he technically runs up to the senate with repect to the election (except, of course, insofar as this will mean that all the bills will thus be slotted for the post-election joint sitting).

Surely it is now plain that the Dark One sees winning elections purely as stand-alone deals, with elections having become, above all, about nothing but themselves. Thus, while the bills will be the technical justifications for the DD, they will slope away in the background, while Howard gets on with orchestrating an entirely separate strategy to crowd out the public foreground, come the campaign itself. Whether it be drowning the press in the technology of something like a more or less ‘sensible’ piece of lower order tax accounting changes, such as a GST; or fabricating stories about things like foreign invaders throwing their children into the sea; surely we should anticipate the Coalition conjuring up a favourably polarising foreground issue, which will be fought over via a tabloid narrative for the entire 4-6 weeks to determine the result.

In sum, well may you say ‘bring it on’, but I’m afraid I can still only see one result at this stage, regardless of the trail up to the senate.

Factory
Factory
2022 years ago

Hmm I’m going to disagree about the government selling off their stake in the internet infrastructure of telstra, it continue the completely crap state of broadband in Australia.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Chris,

Neither the 1998 nor 2001 elections were double dissolutions. You’re correct that I hypothesise that a competent Labor leader WOULD be able to get the electorate’s attention focussed on the DD bills, irrespective of what wedge politics stunt Howard pulled. However, Crean isn’t that leader.

mark
2022 years ago

Perhaps that’s what’s with Howard’s recent “obstructionist Senate” crap. Maybe he plans to get a DD election, and convince the public to go Liberal all the way, because the Senate’s not letting him govern the way they want him to…

David J
David J
2022 years ago

Homer, source of funding matters – see the piece below.
The government faces a balancing act – to adopt as many policies that it considers important but electorally unpopular as possible, without adopting so many that they actually lose office.

I agree with Ken that with a competent Labor leader, the government would have this balance wrong. With Crean though, who knows.