Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Australia - Treasury has re-released its recommendations to the incoming govt noting significant risks for the NBN

[smh] The federal government should already be taking stock of the impact of its planned National Broadband Network (NBN) on the budget and risks to competition, Treasury says.

The Treasury re-released its recommendations to the incoming Labor government - known as the Red Book - on Tuesday, removing some of the restrictions that had previously been blacked-out in the document.

In a statement, Treasury said it had received a request for an internal review of the decision not to release certain sections of the Red Book.

"Following consultations with the treasurer, the Treasury has now amended the earlier published documents," it said.

However, some sections still remain blacked out.

On the NBN, it says the program carries significant risks, including financial risks for the public balance sheet and risks around competition and efficiency in telecommunications and related markets.

"The government's response to the NBN Implementation Study will set the parameters for the outcomes in these areas for decades to come," it says.

"It therefore warrants very careful consideration by cabinet", adding the words "in coming months".

The Red Book was handed over to the government upon its formation of a minority government in early September.

Treasury also warns that the "failure of the Senate to pass the private health insurance rebate savings ... also have added to the structural pressures on the budget position in the medium term".

On international engagement, Treasury says "China and India are the key drivers of the shift in global strategic weight towards Asia, from which Australia is a key beneficiary."

It now adds, "the G20's elevation during the GFC is emblematic of this shift."

It also now reveals that Australia-China investment concerns have abated over the past year as both governments have adapted to the reality of closer economic engagement.

"It is in Australia's interests to cement the G20's role as the pre-eminent forum for international economic engagement."

It now adds "this will require ensuring that it delivers on its commitments and demonstrates that it can work cooperatively to address longer-term, post-crisis issues."

Treasury says China needs to stay engaged in the G20, and continued efforts are needed to ensure that the global policy response to the rebalancing of growth is one that includes actions from all major economies and does not single out China.

"Advancing Australia's economic engagement with India is critical for similar reasons," the Red Book now reveals.

"Nurturing the bilateral relationship, through regular visits by ministers and senior officials and greater policy cooperation, will help the Australian mission to build its influence in a challenging environment."

Treasury re-releases Red Book
see also Treasury press release on FOI requests

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