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.