Alston and the inquiry

Looking at the state of telecommunications policy in Australia, you might imagine that Communications Minister Richard Alston is spending all his time in front of that nice plasma screen Telstra loaned him to improve his insight into telecommunications policy. But in fact he spends a lot of time writing to the papers to blast all who disagree with him. The Australian Computer Society has been a regular recipient, as this Register report shows.

And he responded vigorously to my piece in the Fin last week claiming that I do not have a ‘skerrick of evidence’ for my suggestion that the suppression of the inquiry into Telstra’s structure was a response to pressure from Telstra, concerned that the evidence would be unfavourable to its commercial interests and share price. When the government first moved to curtail the inquiry, on December 19 2002, the chair of the inquiry Christopher Pyne, said it ‘would be damaging for Telstra if it dragged on too long’. Among other reports on the reaction of Telstra and its shareholders, the AFR (Government cuts short Telstra break-up inquiry, 20/12/02 ) noted “it is believed the company’s fury about the inquiry is understood by the government.” [I’ll try to provide links for this post soon.]