Chat with Labor MPs about communications and you quickly learn that it has only taken one year for this government to feel as filthy about Telstra as its predecessor ended up after 11. It is now rare indeed to hear a good word from a politician of any side about the telecommunications giant in which the government, through its Future Fund, is still the major shareholder. If the politicians could achieve it they would delight in using the current tender for the development of a national broadband network (NBN)to help a strong competitor emerge.
Given Telstra's dominant position as the owner of so much of the national infrastructure that is easier thought than done. Yet you have to hand it to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy - in public he keeps up the pretense that all is well in his kingdom with the NBN project completely on track. "The strong response from industry proponents is vindication of the Government's commitment to undertake a fair, open and competitive process," he declared in his press statement yesterday. "The stage is now set for an extremely competitive assessment process." There was not so much as a hint in these prepared words that Telstra was again playing games which will surely delay even further the evaluation process by the Government's independent Panel of Experts and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.