Yet another reminder of that tragic fuck-up by Oz governments–the sale of Telstra!
"Considering that Australia has since walked away from a plan to build a national FTTP network, it's easy to wish that the Hawke government had taken up the idea."
I and others have have been crowing about this for decades, in fact since the Telecom 2000 report in the late 1970s. Over 30 years ago, it was obvious even to Blind Freddy what was needed to properly deregulate telecommunications in Australia, yet no sensible scheme was never implemented by any Australian federal government.
Instead, successive Australian federal governments fucked up telecommunications deregulation big-time. It's hard to describe the conniving, the incompetence, the dishonesty and treachery that was involved with the deregulation and sell-off of Telstra. Ultimately, when all the facts eventually emerge and the ultimate costs known, the deregulation of Telstra will go down in history as essentially an act of treason against the Australian people. There's no other reasonable way of putting it.
Describing the Australian telecommunications deregulation and the Telstra sell-off as monkeys doing brain surgery would be a gross understatement, as that's just incompetence. It was a great deal more than that. The opportunistic and greedy Federal Government(s) in both Liberal and Labor incarnations set out with deliberate determination to screw every cent out the sale of Telstra whilst opportunists both within and outside Telstra aided and abetted the process. It cost the Australian public billions of dollars and also set back the introduction of Australia having a decent fibre backbone across country by decades. What happened is an utter disgrace, and we've been the laughing stock of the world ever since.
The principal fuck-up was the way Telstra was sold off COMPLETE WITH the cable and network infrastructure intact, this meant that the Australian people would pay dearly for their telecommunications in two ways:
1. Telstra maintaining its monopoly over the cable infrastructure meant that new competitors were at the mercy of Telstra when it came to their access to the cable network, Telstra overcharging was both unmerciful and unstoppable. (For infrastructural reasons latter pricing regulators were left with a legacy which could not be undone, even with their best efforts and intents their network price determinations were a joke compared to what they should have been.)
Naturally, Telstra's new competitors had to pass on Telstra's outrageous network access charges to their customers, the net effect was that there was no real competition. Effectively, competitors' users were loaded with an 'infrastructure' charge or loading that went straight to Telstra's coffers. Even if you were say an Opus customer Telstra copped heaps. So much for deregulation!
Moreover, the existing network infrastructure had already been paid for by millions of Australians over many decades–over a hundred years or so, now they were paying for it again–note Telstra wasn't just charging for maintenance it was undertaking mammoth price-gouging. (And it should be noted that since deregulation, Telstra has let the copper network run down and simply decay, it's only maintenance was and is crash-maintenance, it's done stuff-all maintenance ever since and fired/outsourced its once very professional line crews.)
2. To overcome the problem, Telstra's competitors such as Optus had to build alternative parallel networks. Again, this unnecessary duplication has cost the Australian people billions of extra dollars– costs that should have never been incurred. Everywhere one probes bells ring loudly, one can only conclude that Australian telecommunications competition is an outrageous bloody joke.
The reasons for why there's been no outrage, rioting in the streets over the deregulation of Australian telecommunications/Telstra sell-off scandal I can only attribute to the fact that Australians seem to have had too much disposable income over the past 30 or so years for them to bother complaining in any serious way. (I wonder what will happen when the mining boom is ultimately over and the remainder of our manufacturing is nuked and or sent off to China?)
As I've said in previous related posts, what we need is for some budding PhD student to put the whole shemozzle into the mix and ultimately work out what these unmitigated government fuck-ups have cost every Australian over the past 30+ years or so. Any potential candidates out there reading this then I'd suggest not only would you benefit from a PhD but also the kudos would be enormous.)
* We need to know how the original Telstra sell-offs complete with the intact cable infrastructure have contributed in real dollar terms to the cost of the current NBN fuck-up. That's to say the total cost of the current NBN compared to the sensible alternative which was that governments should have sold of Telstra sans the cable infrastructure and implemented a revenue-neutral National Cable Authority. (A revenue-neutral National Cable Authority where both government and competitors have shareholdings on a 51/49% basis would ensure 'net neutrality' pricing for all service providers including Telstra, it would also be efficient if properly legislated, as network service providers would have input into that efficiency.)
* We need to know exactly who the culprits were who initiated the original plans for the Telstra sell-offs (who did what, who authorized what etc. and did they ever benefit from the the Telstra sales in any way).
* Expanding on that: we need to know exactly who influenced respective governments. Who were the government insiders, Trojan horses and traitors who so fucked the Australian public?.
* We need to know exactly who benefited from the sale of Telstra–where did the money go and by how much. A cost benefit analysis of how governments spent the Telstra sale income versus what the Australian public have had to outlay in additional telecommunications charges since the sell-off as well as the ADDITIONAL monies unnecessarily spent and wasted on the NBN, which would not have been necessary to anywhere near the same extent had the government retained the cable infrastructure. (This is detailed stuff, a PhD would be well earned, methinks).
* We need to know exactly how lobbying influenced respective Australian governments and who the major players were.
* Ultimately, we need to determine (a) what the per capita losses were, i.e.: every Australian telecommunications user should be told in absolute dollar terms what the ultimate cost as been to him/her; and (b) we need a reasonable estimate of how much Australians are being overcharged currently as a consequence of these 30-year old fuck-ups.
Ultimately, this fuck-up has cost the Australian public billions and billions of dollars yet it's essentially slipped under the RADAR because of government obfuscation and propaganda. As both sides of politics–Tweedledum and Tweedledee–have their clammy little paws in the till, there's been no will politically to expose the dirty linen. 'Mum's the word' might be the realpolitik, but it shouldn't say that way.
BTW, I and others benefited significantly from the sale of Telstra but we should not have done so. Around the time of the sell-offs, I went to an auction of Telstra electronic equipment after Telstra's Tempe Research Laboratory (in Sydney) had been closed after having been deemed 'redundant' by Telstra's 'new' corporate management. I bought test and lab gear in excellent condition, some almost brand new, whose new price would have been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for literally only a few hundred dollars, what I paid was only pocket money!
Equipment such as Tektronix spectrum analyzers, oscilloscopes, precision Fluke Kelvin–Varley divider and many other bits of instrumentation of similar calibre, most of it in full calibration, I picked up for almost free. From my stance as a techie, it was a wonderful and remarkable experience, nothing like that has ever happened to me before, it was like winning the lottery.
In principle, this was nothing other than 'legal theft' from the Australian people, what happened at Tempe was an utter disgrace. Even if we leave the equipment out of the equation, then the closure of the laboratory and loss of skilled engineering jobs was a loss to the Nation. Telstra could have sold the lab off as a working concern but it did not. You won't see accounts such as this in government propaganda about the Telstra sale. When it comes to an ultimate audit of costs of the Telstra sale then details such as this should be factored in. Remember, the sale of Telstra also had huge social implications, many skilled personnel were displaced and or ultimately made redundant. For the record, I wasn't one of them, I've never worked for Telstra.