NEWSFLASH! In September I will join The Conversation as its Business and Economy Editor. I have been honoured to work at The Age for the past ten years, originally alongside the legendry Tim Colebatch, and for the past four years as economics editor in my own right.

At The Conversation, my job will be to make the best thinking from Australia's 40 univerisites accessible to the widest possible audience. That means you. From the new year I will also write a weekly column.

On this site are most of the important things I have written for Fairfax and the ABC over the past few decades. I recommend the Search function. The site is a record for you, as well as me.

I'll continue to post great things from The Conversation and other places here, and also on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Bright idea: Don't privatise the NBN - Kohler

"Communications Minister Stephen Conroy should do more than just remove from the NBN legislation the option for it to be a retailer – he should put in a clause that it will never raise equity or be privatised.

The NBN can, and should, be fully funded by government-guaranteed debt.

Its prices should be regulated to provide a margin over the cost of that funding to pay for management and maintenance, and then that’s it.

And those misty-eyed nostalgics within the government who want to create another PMG or Telecom Australia should be taken aside, arm on their shoulders, and counselled: get over it, the world has moved on, and it wasn’t really better then anyway.

This is an opportunity to build a great public asset that will turn Australia into a hotbed of innovation, but for that to happen the leash on the NBN needs to be very tight – forever.

NBN Co chief Mike Quigley has done the right thing by declaring that he will only provide a very basic bitstream transport service – called Layer 2. The legislation’s main purpose should be to make sure his successors in the future do the same thing.

Raising equity and/or privatising the NBN will set up a demand for growth – equity investors require capital gain as well as dividends..."



The full thing is at at Business Spectator



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