What should the ACCC’s role be in guiding infrastructure spending?


blog Those of you who have been in the industry for some time may recall that the national competition regulator played a substantial role in the previous Labor Government deciding in early 2009 to restructure the telecommunications sector through implementing an all-fibre model for its National Broadband Network project. This week, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who obviously doesn’t have the best opinion of the result of that process, made a few somewhat controversial comments about the ACCC’s historical role in the situation. There’s an article at The Australian summarising the Liberal MP’s views. The newspaper reported (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Malcolm Turnbull has blamed the competition watchdog and its former chairman Graeme Samuel for the National Broadband Network’s blowout in costs, saying they were not qualified to provide the advice on which the former Labor government relied when committing to the project.”

A more complete picture of the discussion, which took place at an economic and social policy conference in Melbourne, was published on Turnbull’s site in transcript form. Industry figures Paul Broad and Henry Ergas also made comments on the issue.

Whatever way you personally feel about the issue (and it’s not appropriate for me to weigh in at this point), it’s hard to disagree that the discussion is worth checking out — either via the transcript or by listening to the recording on Turnbull’s site. These are still live issues today.

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull