From an article on the new NBN draft legislation:
“The talk in Canberra is that Telstra senses the government is on the ropes, and with an election coming it thinks now is the perfect time to play hardball.The closer we get to the election date the more desperate the government is likely to get and the better compensation handout it will consider.
The Rudd Government is on the ropes ? In what reality? Going by the Polls, Labor is at ahead a comfortable, 53-47% spread, while the markets have Labor at around $1.20 to the Libs $3.80 (ie around 75% odds on favourites), add in the honeymoons due to end for Abbott, that the public always give govts a 2nd term (at least since ww2) and that the government hasn’t yet switched to an election footing, you’re kidding yourself you think this government is “on the ropes”. And even if those numbers suggest to you Labor could lose, why would anyone in the government believe that giving in to Telstra would be good politics? Their original plan for an NBN and split Telstra was popular with both the public and the press, and the government’s already taken heat over being too close to business (utegate, Free-to-air tv handout, wasteful stimulus spending).
Conroy has goofed in opening up the NBN to some retail sales (though it is only for servicing government departments), but you really have to wonder just who is advising Telstra over the years on politics. Everyone thought getting rid of the yanks would put the company back into the mainstream, but if this is the sort of political analysis they are endorsing, pushing ahead in ways that will only annoy a government almost sure to win re-election they’re fooling themselves.
I’ve never quite understood the lack of political acumen in the Australian business community. Those rare few who venture outside the pack (such as Heather Ridout of the Australian Industry Group) gained significant benefits for sensing the political wind and working with Labor in 2007. Yet they remain a rare exception at least in public comments. Rupert Murdoch may have lately rung his colours up the conservative flagpole, but if you go back a decade or two, he and Packer knew how businessmen should play the political game: Support the winning side. But you almost never find even that basic political common sense in most of the Australian business community.
Then again maybe the ideological blinders are less at Telstra than on the reporter:
That’s the game the previous Telstra regime played with the previous government, and a dance repeated too often since 1983 when then minister Kim Beazley made the mistake of not splitting Telstra.
Other than as part of a privatization platform, there was no reason to split Telstra in 1983. It made a healthy earner from both its retail and wholesale arms, and control of the retail side meant the Government could guarantee phone access to all homes in the country. A basic individual right/important economic backbone esp for rural communities. It was only when the company was (rightly) sold in 1996 that there was a need (and a pressing one) to split the company. But Howard didn’t because he wanted a higher sales price (much of which he used as election handouts). So how is it Beazley’s mistake?