Dissenting Report - Australian Greens
The Australian Greens
dispute the meaning conveyed in paragraph 3.164 of the majority report, which
is a substantial misrepresentation of Division 2 of Part 3 of the Companies
The majority report
indicates that privatisation is expected to occur. In fact
privatisation may occur if it is the will of the Executive, supported by
a vote in Parliament and an independent study conducted by the Productivity
Commission and a Parliamentary Inquiry.
This will help ensure
any decision on privatisation is guided by the public interest.
The primary overriding
purpose of the publicly owned NBN is to serve as an open access wholesale
telecommunications provider to the entire Australian population. When problems
occur, the taxpayers have the right, through the Parliament, to call the
management before budget Estimates Committees, and to amend its parent acts to
bring it back into line.
Privatise it, and by
law, its primary purpose under Australian law is to maximise its return to
shareholders. It will do this by doing what Telstra did, leveraging the
benefits of incumbency into other markets, explore scope creep and push the
boundaries. There was no market outcry when the Greens negotiated these
provisions into NBN Co’s enabling legislation (quite the reverse).
The market, and many analysts,
understand that as natural monopoly infrastructure it is appropriate for an
entity accountable to the public to operate the hardware, while market forces
predominate at the retail service layers.
There is therefore no
expectation of eventual privatisation – there is simply a mechanism to do so
should a future government choose to do so.
Senator Scott Ludlam