Conroy Makes Greece Look Thrifty on Broadband
A study released by the Economist Intelligence Unit reveals both the leverage and lunacy required to press ahead with the NBN.
Labor is investing the equivalent of 249% of annual fixed line revenues on the NBN — more than two and a half times more than the next most lavish spender, Greece. In the current circumstances, being 2 1/2 times as extravagant as Greece speaks volumes for the recklessness of the Gillard Government.
It shows the lunacy because no other country around the world is intervening in the private market to the extent to which the Gillard Government has. The study assessed not just current internet infrastructure but Government planning into the future – on that account, we were ranked 8th out of 13 countries assessed. Whereas Stephen Conroy is investing only in FTTH, the rest of the world will invest in competition, affordability and in innovation.
When I was in China recently, I met some Government officials who were astounded that the Australian Government could intervene so heavily in the market and the Economist study observes too that China’s approach is a more competitive one, with less government intervention, than Australia’s.
And yet, few people in Australia are aware of the extent to which this project has become an object of bemusement around the world. As the Economist study notes: ‘The outstanding example of extreme government intervention is Australia’.
Labor is entitled to argue that it knows better than the rest of the world. But it should at least do the responsible thing and have its assumptions tested by an independent body such as the Productivity Commission.