Stephen Conroy appeared on The 7:30 Report last night. In it he included this memorable exchange;
HEATHER EWART: Are you prepared for legal challenges from Telstra?
STEPHEN CONROY: [Laughs] Look we've been prepared for legal challenges since the beginning of this process from all sides. There have been threats of legal challenges, complaints about the process from all of the major players involved in this sector. This is par for the course in this sector.
I said yesterday that this exclusion of Telstra just demonstrates that the processes that this sector is normally engaged in are completely out of control. We have a situation where the sector can't cooperate, it can't have a discussion, it can't reach a common position.
Seldom have truer words been spoken (ignoring the philosophical question of whether there can be degrees of truth). There are some who would claim that "the processes [the] sector is normally engaged in" are "completely out of control" because of the continued distorted market structure. There are others who would argue that it has been the consequence of Government policy, in particular the distorted role the Commonwealth had for so long as a regulator and vendor. There are still others who would like to blame just the personalities involved, from the CEOs to the "spin-meisters" (like me I guess).
If you want more evidence just look at the column in today's SMH by Paul Fletcher, who was formerly the regulatory head at Optus. It isn't so much the content of the article, which is a fairly measured assessment of the ways Telstra has gone about Government engagement, but the proposed title of his forthcoming book "Wired Brown Land? Telstra's Battle For Broadband".
Having heard Fletcher on the topic I anticipate this book will be full of ascriptions of motives to Telstra of various actions over time rather than the a historical anlysis. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the way Telstra approached ULL pricng, because Fletcher fully appreciated the outcome. I have been somewhat more distraught about the outcome, I think a higher ULL price is apprpriate. But I think it was Telstra who missed the opportunities the regime presented to lock in a higher price.
The kind of unedifying slanging match can also been seen in my review (in the TJA (subscription required) of the Henry Ergas book Wrong Number.
Some like CommsAlliance CEO Anne Hurley believe the industry can rise above this , as she wrote in an Obamaesque way in Communications Day;
Can our industry heal its wounds and accept that we have a broad social responsibility to move forward and harness our best technology for Australia’s broadband future by cooperation and collaboration? Yes we can!!
The Minister clearly believes we are the nation's dysfunctional child. I tend to agree.