Minchin's madness

Opposing Conroy for the sake of political opportunism won't do anything for us in the long term Mr Minchin

Senator Nick Minchin

Senator Nick Minchin

I'm in a bind. I can't work out whether Senator Nick Minchin is plain mad, or there is method to his madness.

I'm leaning to the former, though, because of the shadow communication minister's actions since the Federal Government announced its plans to force the structural separation of Telstra. Put simply, they have been nothing more than reckless political opportunism.

Minchin has not only positioned himself against the wishes of the vast majority of the industry with whom he would have to work if his party wins office, he has also failed to articulate a long-term ICT position for the benefit of all of Australia.

Instead he has sided with Telstra and placed his trust in the 1.4 million or so of the telco's shareholders. Why? Simply to oppose Conroy and the Rudd administration? To win the votes of a minority group in the public, i.e. Tesltra shareholders?

He can't seriously think the ICT industry would give him credit for taking this stand, can he?

Minchin recently told one of my colleagues he didn't need to have a policy on the National Broadband Network (NBN), which is at the heart of the Telstra separation issue, and wouldn't provide an alternative to the fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network. Instead, he consistently claims we don't need an NBN.

"We will be gradually releasing in a strategic fashion alternative views, but formally we won’t have a policy on this until somewhat closer to the election, primarily because we have to wait," he said. "The electorate by and large won’t be interested in our policy until the election and our policy has to be a function of the state of play that we would inherit were we to win the next election."

Let me get this straight: The industry and greater population aren't interested in hearing your policy position on one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the nation's history? Do you really think siding with Telstra and its shareholders is serving the interests of your electorate and the greater population?

Yes, Conroy's plans have serious faults, but simply opposing everything he does for the sake of it does nothing for you, the industry or Australia. It's just mad.

Tags Senator Nick MinchinNational Broadband Network (NBN)Senator Stephen ConroyTelstraNBN

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Reality Check


Trevor , how can I put this politely, I think I'll just refrain for a moment. But your own conclusion goes a long way to answering all the rubbish you wrote in the rest of the article.

"Yes Conroy's plans have serious faults" - And that's puting it mildly. Conroy's and Rudd's bill along with their plan grossly and transparantly escalates this matter beyond a question of telecommunications. Targeting a company to destroy its value, to make it fit a govt agenda without compensation is criminal.

Buy it back, break it up, include a set of steak knives with every connection, nobody will care. But if you steal it like a corrupt third world govt, even for the most benevolent purposes then it should be every Australian who should be outraged and awake to the new order that is dawning on our dark future.

Trevor, I don't say this emotionally or to be vindictive, but you a Moron.

p.s. When Conroy's says some of the legislation is punitive but it just a negotiating tactic and he will withdraw it. Why does he stop there, why not remind Thodey that he is the govt and they have the military and trained assasin's also at their disposal. Or is that just a little to much!

Whatever agreement is reached or not, whatever regulation gets dropped or enacted from here the disgusting damage is already done to our society.
I am genuinely shocked and scared for our society and future for all sorts of reasons and not some feeble NBN.
That may turn out to be great or just the equivalent of a hovercraft or helicopter in every driveway when there potential was discovered over 60 years ago !!



@Sat, 24/10/2009 - 09:25 — Reality Check

So you actually think the current situation is good????? Are you serious? The point is Minchin is just opposing for political currency - and no other reason. That's mad.

And keeping Telstra as it is would be stoopid too

Break em up and let them get on with being a content and retail provider

most analysts think that is what they will become anyway and that is the best way to go and will provide more value to shareholders

return reality check


what the???


what the???

do you not know anything about the industry?

What about the value of every other company in the industry?

Which is more third world? a competition killing monopoly or an open market?

telstra should have been broken up long ago and we just need this to happen quicker rather than later

all analysts have already priced in the separation anyway, so they won't lose value



What are the wishes of the vast majority of the industry? If they are such a vast majority, why is their investment in Australia is only making up 30%, while Telstra investments is the other 70%?

The vast majority you are mentioning are parasites. They are large in number, noisy, and blinding public and politicians with their rhetoric, but they are not adding much value to actual telecommunications services Australians need.

We just saw how much a joke the rest of the industry is when Terria bid at broadband tender.

No one is disputing that the proposed legislation is a blatant attempt to rob Telstra's shareholders of their assets. But they are justififying this attempted theft with propaganda, such as national interest or wonderful new technology and speed we will get. There is no actual hard evidence of this, but this is not preventing Conroy to press on regardless. What is the real reason for this indecent haste?

Australians need to stick biblical principle of "YOU SHALL NOT STEAL". Nothing good shall come out of short-sighted opportunism.

Senator Minchin in constrast is displaying good old Australian common sense and decency. Australians should be proud with him in his stance.

return reality check


common sense and decency? By keeping Australia's telecommunications industry as a monopoly where one company can dictate to the government and people what happens??

Get a grip and go do your research?

Stealing? Who is stealing when the prices we get are far higher than other developed nations and Telstra rakes in some of the highest profit margins in the world for telcos.

Just supporting one company against everyone else is just plain silly

return reality check


Telstra should never have been given both wholesale and retail roles - until we have a company that is only wholesale we will never have true competition and a fair playing field for all

Telstra has invested 70% because of its history - I'm sure others would be happy to do the same if they had that position

love the fact those supporting Minchin only care about Telstra - what about the other companies???



There are a lot more unhappy Telstra customers than shareholders.
Most shareholders have to trade the market as conditions change, Telstra shareholders seem to believe that the partial monopoly entitles them to endless dividends and share price gains, by screwing customers, businesses that need communications, and the national economy. Compare international services and rates.
After having sufferred for 10 years dealing with Telstra, may I suggest the 20th century solution - outright nationalisation without compensation, all owners of more than 10,000 shares to be liquidated by AK47 firing squads.
Probably about as popular a policy as the Libs defending the Telstra monopoly.



I am a Telstra shareholder, and a telstra customer. A monopoly is like a dictatorship, a benevolent one is terrific, but power corrupts, and Telstra has been seriously abusing its position of power. I don't care whose fault it is, but the structure we have now is seriously flawed and not in the best interests of Australia.
Yes, I want my Telstra shares to be making a profit for me. But I want them to be doing it because Telstra is competing well on a level playing field.
In the interests of Australia, and in the long term, the interests of Telstra shareholders, Telstra should be split up ASAP.



I absolutely agree with reality check

Minchin should delay this legislation until a lot of questions are answered.

There are far to many ignorant morans commenting on the NBN that have no idea what they are talking about other than their own self interest. Using government legistlation to force a company to act against their shareholders interests should be questioned.

If Conroy wants to renationalise the telco sector then buy it back. All legistlation should apply to all industry participants.

I am a telstra competitor and I dislike dealing with them as much as anyone, however I do believe that if they spend the capital and roll out a network they should be able to get a return. If all the wingeing competitors want to provide a service then get out their cheque books and deploy alternative infrastructure. Optus for one has a cable network and they prefer to use telstras copper, says it all.

People also need to recognise that Australia is a big continient with a small population. Trying to compare Australia and say singapore, sweeden, USA etc is like comparing peas with a giant pumpkin. Please build a bridge and get over it. I just wonder how all the wingers will react when they get slugged more for the NBN broadband. People need to be carefull what they wish for



Here we go again. If you look at headlines, Telstra is such a terrible company that customer complaints against it are sky rocketing. But if you look deeper to these numbers, Telstra has 35% of the complaints despite having bulk of the customers and market share. In fact complaint rate for its competitors is four times, repeat, 4 times of Telstra. Telstra in fact recorded a drop compared with the last years, while everyone else has increased by more than 60%. Why then all these publications are mispresenting facts? Could it be that media barons are salivating to get their hands on Foxtel so trying to give more ammunition to Conroy.

Sydney Lawrence


Let's all be truthful. Every Poster here has a personal agenda, and usually it promotes a situation that would bring them financial gain.

How can a person damn a Telstra monopoly and then condone a Government monopoly that confiscates an opponents equipment and customers?

Let the Government roll-out their NBN by all means but let Telstra remain as a competitor and let the Australian people decide whom the choose.



Come on, people! Infrastructure competition cannot work in a country as large as Australia with a large geographical landmass and a not-so-dense population. Would you idiots be happy having multiple highways built across the nation: one for Ford, one for Holden, etc. How about mulitple railroads or multiple electricity lines?

A Monopoly is inevitable: we cannot afford anything else. If Telstra is allowed to compete against the NBN, then the NBN will be a big white elephant. Just like the Optus HFC Network. I'd prefer a pure wholesale, open access, government-controlled Monopoly providing competition "at the retail level" rather than a vertically integrated Monopoly controlled by a private company that dictates prices and can discriminate against it's customers and competitors.

And you, Minchin, you are an absolute luddite! We have the most slowest and the most expensive broadband in the world. All the other countries are laughing at us! And you claim that we don't need a new broadband network? You can kiss my fair dinkum arse, mate!



Well said Sydney.

If the NBN is all Conroy says it's going to be, then roll it out and let Telstra compete with it.

Afraid of the competition? We all know how well governments run things, can't wait to see them stuff up the NBN!



I am old enough to remember how government owned and run corporations were performing. Customers were fuming with resentment and were very happy to see they were privatised. Even with Telstra, people still complain about the culture of the organisation which they think reflects the public service mentality.

Then how can someone claim a public service monopoly called NBN CO will be different this time around, bringing wonderful efficiency and service to its customers? Why do you do the same thing and expect different result? Isn't that the definition of insanity?

People pushing for NBN are either expecting to profit from it somehow, or they are naive at the best.

The claims that Australia can not afford two networks and monopoly is inevitable are baseless. The analogy with highways are stupid and not true. You can run two fibre cable side by side in the same duct. It is easy and cheap to do so.

If NBN can not compete with Telstra why do you want to build such an uncompetitive network? Haven't you just demolished the argument for NBN with your statement? Since when building a white elephant become good for the country and good for us?



RL, I'll tell you why Optus HFC network became a white elephant. If you can access your competitor's network at below cost prices, you will be stupid to spend your own money to maintain and operate your own network.

This does not prove failure of competition, it proves the failure of regulatory framework in this country.

Get the regulator out of decision making and you'll see real competition. If Optus can compete with its mobile network, it could also compete with its HFC network if it wasn't more profitable for Optus not to compete.

Graham Varney


What about calling a day of national prayer that Minchin falls on a bread knife - and is fatally wounded?



I too am old enough to remember Telecom, as wholly owned by the government. As a customer, I was fuming when it was privatised, because thousands of jobs were lost and service levels nosedived, all in the name of increased profits.

If it hadn't been for the Liberal short sightedness, TELECOM would still be owned by the government, and the substantial profits it was making could have been plowed back into upgrading the network, and we would have had a world-class fibre network RIGHT NOW.



Quite simple really. Public infrastructure should now be owned by private enterprise.



Yes Minchin should oppose the break-up. Do you really want to bring on the negative effects of sovereign risk?



Sovereign risk? You can't really say we have an adequate system at the moment with the way Telstra operates. Esing the free market card and suggesting we will have "sovereign risk" if Telstra is broken up forcibly is a bit rich and doesn't describe the existing situation fairly. Having one company separate from the retail competition is the best approach.



For all the Telstra lovers - tell us what Minchin's plan for the market is then? Just keep it the same and make every other ICT player remain dependent on a competitor? Seriously, Minchin needs to outline his long term vision and not just throw up road blocks



NBN co will be 50/50 and migrate to a fully private company within a decade - it's not meant to be public forever; just until it can walk without assistance



Senator Minchin is correct. Why spend %43 billion to duplicate existing infraestucture? $43 billion are better spent elsewhere. The NBN will be an white elephant without Telstra, but Telstra is privatly owned and our own constitution, there has to be compensation... You know, the vibe??? Conroy wants to be a Robin Hood, a Ned Kelly or President Chavez? Whoever he wants to be, he is wrong not to compensate the property owners of Telstra, otherwise he is stealing.



Conroy is a man of many words and little action but at least he has some direction. Minchin has nothing but verbal incontinence.



Anonymous says "You can run two fibre cable side by side in the same duct. It is easy and cheap to do so."

Easy maybe. Cheap? In a small country like Japan, yes, but in Australia, I doubt it.

"Then how can someone claim a public service monopoly called NBN CO will be different this time around, bringing wonderful efficiency and service to its customers?"

Let's do a comparison then:

- Government owned
- Vertically Integrated
- Wholesale AND Retail

- Government owned
- Structually Separated
- Wholesale only
- Open access

So in my opinion, an NBN Co Monopoly will be a lot different this time around. But Telecommunications will never be perfect. Customers are bound to complain about something, I just hope that NBN Co will resolve future issues quicker than Telstra can now.

"If NBN can not compete with Telstra why do you want to build such an uncompetitive network?"

Why don't you ask Sydney Lawrence or any of the other "greedy" shareholders that question? They're the ones who keep demanding for Telstra's competitors to invest in their own infrastructure.

Michael says "If Optus can compete with its mobile network, it could also compete with its HFC network if it wasn't more profitable for Optus not to compete."

The Mobile market and the Fixed line market are two very different markets. A Mobile network covering the whole of Australia would cost about a billion dollars, two billion at most. But a fixed fibre network covering 90% of the australian population would cost up to $43 Billion according to the government. Building a fibre network covering the whole of Japan would very likely cost less than $10 Billion, but that's because Japan is a small country compared to Australia. I'm just saying it's cheaper to build a mobile network covering most of Australia than building a fibre network covering most of Australia. That's why infrastructure competition exists in the mobile market, but this kind of competition cannot be done in the fixed line market, not in Australia at least.

How much would it cost for one household to be transferred from Telstra's network to the NBN? This would be the reason why Telstra must not compete with the NBN, because most customers would prefer to stay on the network they're currently on because they can't afford to migrate to the NBN. Therefore the NBN will very likely become a white elephant.

I want the NBN to be successful, for the future of this country. I want Australia to be the most connected country in the world. But I assume that most of Telstra's shareholders would love for Australia to become the most primitive country in the world, just as long as they can roll around like pigs in their own pile of cash!



No its not the Australian way, its the Conroy & Krudd ALP way.



There's a bit of revisionist enthusiasm rather than accuracy in some of these posts.

The HFC debacle seems a good example of how Telstra used incumbent muscle to eliminate competition. Despite the usual blah from the usual suspects, it has been said by others that Telstra HFC gangs followed Optus everywhere with parallel cable so that Optus had no hope of recovering the costs involved.

Australia finished up having a limited area with two HFC cables, and very little anywhere else. This looks like classic monopolistic gameplaying, and means that, as usual, consumers have lost out all round with slow and very costly services.

So while it may appear to be "courageous" of Senator Minchin to try and hold everything up, in fact it's pretty damn stupid.



My sentiment exactly mate. I am an ex Telstra employee (actually ex Telecom Australia employee as well), and a shareholder. I loved working for Telstra, it gave me a great start in my career. But sad to say that I am not a Telstra customer anymore.

I don't like the way Telstra is abusing it's market power. It's manipulation of the regulating framework. Telstra should be able to win and retain it's customer without resorting to these kind of tricks. He's a tip, just match what the other guys are offering,

Telstra should have been split up from day one. It's never too late.



Why would most Telstra shareholders would love Australia to become the most primitive country in the world? That is a very stupid thing to say showing the emotional immaturity of the writer. We are also customers using the same services like everyone else. We want the best telecommunications services available anywhere in the world. Our argument is that Conroy proposal in its current form will take both Australia and telecommunication industry backward for many years to come. Sure, stealing from Telstra shareholders might appeal to self-interest of some writers in this forum, but law of unintended consequences will surely catch up with the government and Australians. No private investment would be forthcoming for NBN. Telstra won't be stepping in to fill the gap. Governments forever will find themselves spending taxpayers' money and never completely satisfy customers.



How bizarre, government is to split Telstra, take Telstra's assests into NBN, yet leave Universal Service Obligation with Telstra increasing the fines to ten million dollars. Telstra management must show some fighting spirit. If government sets up this new monopoly NBN, it should also provide services to the bush. Why a private company should act like a charity, particularly after its assets are stripped by the government? When is enough is enough?



Minchin is a tool, no two ways about it, and he obviously does not have much in the way of knowledge when it comes to his own portfolio. All holders of this position should be required to have or to be made to gain some knowledge of the industry so they can make informed decisions.



I am torn between my personnel desire to have a fast reliable internet connection, and hopefully cable tv as well, and then I think of the price of the whole damn thing.
However something has to be done, wireless tech has proven itself time and time again to be a over priced under preforming, and much over hyped, a model that Telstra favours, hmmm wonder why.
But then the massive cost of cable running the entire country is just, well 42 billion is a figure that is easy to say, but alot harder to comprehend.
But again if something isnt done in a drastic manner, then when will it ever get done, the population density makes any private investment suicide, in short nothing will get done.
As you can see, I end up even debating with myself and thats just not healthy.
I myself and leaning to a build the damn thing and then let me cringe at the ramifications of cost later, like buying a new car and going for a model alot higher than you can afford, sure you look good driving around, but when you get home its toast again for dinner.
However what worries me more is the comments by Nick minchin, as they scream let the status quo continue so no shit sticks to us, plus it also shows a man that uses dial up once a day to check his e-mails. Or rather someone checks them for him.



Minchin a madman for upsetting the people he would need to work with, the ICT industry? He very well could be mad. Unless, of course, he truly believes Telstra IS the ICT industry.

That may be one of only two rational explanations as to why he defends the hulking great anachronism for any reason whatsoever, and indeed, often without reason at all. The other explanation? Well, er, it is just possible that only ICAC or a similar watchdog could investigate that one....



On the other hand, he might just be two sandwiches short of a picnic. Lets see:
1. Defends any criticism of Telstra as a personal attack on his religion
2. Staunch defender of that well-known seagull parasite, Sol Trujillo (who, prior to removing millions from Telstra, was known as Trujillo of US Worst, sorry, West fame, and was responsible for the decline of Orange as a global telecommunications force).
3. Is in the Flat Earth Society with Steven Fielding as a climate change denier
4. Despite the Global Financial Crisis, is a passionate believer in the right of the herd of wildebeest otherwise known as the "market", to regulate itself

Ack, Minchin short-circuited years ago, and is now a confirmed Luddite and nutter. We can only guess how desperately Malcolm Turnbul needs caucus allies if he has appointed Nick Minchin the shadow Minister of Technology. Minchin's title should be Minister for the Abolishment of Technology instead.....



I see, you can't compete with Telstra fairly so you want Conroy to do your dirty work. You are upset with Minchin because he is standing between you and the easy profits ha?

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