Simon Hackett has accused Communications Minister Stephen Conroy of again making factually incorrect statements about Internode’s approach to the National Broadband Network, claiming Conroy hadn’t even read some of Hackett’s recent statements on the matter.
The comments represent the latest altercation between the two as part of a public spat which has developed over the past several weeks regarding the NBN’s pricing model, which the Internode MD has been highly critical of. Conroy was last week forced to acknowledge he had made an error regarding Internode’s submissions to the competition regulator on the matter.
In a blog post published yesterday (Saturday), Hackett escalated the developing conflict.
“Recently, Federal Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy has again made some incorrect statements about my proposed improvements to the NBN Co wholesale cost access model,” he wrote. “Those reported comments (if accurate) contain a variety of statements about my proposals that are misleading in some cases, and entirely wrong in others.”
Hackett referred to a ZDNet.com.au article in which Conroy made a variety of comments regarding the Internode MD’s beliefs about how NBN Co’s pricing model could be changed to be more favourable to small ISP. In the article, Conroy mentioned a number of aspects of Hackett’s argument, noting that he considered some of the Internode MD’s arguments “very valid”, but that predictions of “doom and gloom” regarding the pricing were “a little early”.
However, Hackett said Conroy had gotten many of his arguments wrong. For example, with relation to the Minister’s statement that Hackett’s own pricing proposal would increase the price of the ‘access virtual circuit’ component of the NBN pricing, Hackett said Conroy was “completely wrong”. “I have in fact proposed precisely the opposite!” he wrote.
Conroy’s spokesperson has not yet responded to an invitation to respond to Hackett’s comments.
In another example, Conroy stated that the Government would comply with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s decision on the number of points of interconnect which NBN Co will provide to ISPs to access its network, despite the fact that the Government actually agreed with Hackett’s proposal for a lower number.
“The government has the capacity to legislate to override the ACCC decision on points of interconnect – a decision it continues to reiterate as being in conflict with their policy aims!” Hackett wrote. “The government has certainly not been shy in passing other major changes to the NBN legislation over the past few weeks alone, all of which represents major intervention in the marketplace. Why be so shy about addressing this particular issue?”
Hackett also took Conroy to task on a number of other matters, describing one of the Minister’s arguments as “simply false” and another as “showing nothing of the sort”. The Internode MD said he was attempting to arrange to speak with Conroy or his advisors, as well as NBN Co and the ACCC, regarding the pricing model.
“Unfortunately it seems as if Senator Conroy has not actually read my proposal before passing judgment about it,” he wrote. “… However, having people ‘shooting from the hip’ regarding my proposals (intended to improve the practical outcomes of this policy), without even taking the time to read them properly, is really not advancing the debate in a useful manner.”