Saturday, October 16, 2010

Australia - Criticism of chairman of the regulator for saying govt does not need to justify the cost of the NBN

[the australian] GRAEME Samuel has joined Ken Henry on the other side of the shark.

Our competition tsar made an extraordinary and totally inappropriate intervention into the debate over the National Broadband Network this week -- shilling for the government and its refusal to conduct even the most basic cost-benefit assessment of the $43 billion (going on $46bn) project.

Echoing the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, Samuel claimed it was not possible to do a cost-benefit analysis of the NBN because no one could assess benefits of a high-speed broadband network even 10 years out, let alone over its 40-50 year lifespan. Echoed? Who of Conroy and Samuel was the ventriloquist and which the dummy?

As I argued last week, the Treasury Secretary's inappropriate behaviour was to arrogate to himself and Treasury the right to instruct the government via their Red Book. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission chairman is similarly stepping outside his statutory role to support not only one side of a party political policy debate, but also the precise argument used by that side.

Back in your box, Graeme Samuel

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