Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Pointless rant against the full sale of Telstra

As Telstras last few remaining shares are sold off at the hands of a party that really should be there to protect rural Australia from the whims of narrow minded economic rationalism, I'd like to take this opportunity (not so much as a eulogy, however apt the metaphor, more as an exercise in futility) to express a few of my (increasingly pointless) objections.

The free market, according to the economists, is meant to maximize profit. Ignoring the fact that there are no guarantees about how that profit will be distributed, there are a number of axioms that underpins this assumption. One of those axioms is that there are no externalities, or at least if there are, they are compensated. This is quite a big assumption even for some of the simplest economic transactions, but when we come to communications, this axiom doesn't even begin to stand up.

There are numerous externalities most of which are so intangible they can't even begin to be compensated. One of the externalities that most concerns me is that communications is such a valuable resource resource not only to building communities, but also to business in general. The governments 2 billion dollar trust fund is to get current services to the bush, however, being a technology professional, I know how quickly communications technologies change. Telstra are even struggling to get adequate mobile coverage to rural areas, let alone other technologies such as broard band internet. The communications technologies of tomorrow is what will drive business, and without the power to regulate the egalitarian dispersion of these technologies, certain sectors of the community that, those that a privatized company can't see immediate profits to pass on to their share holders. This I believe has the potential to seriously impact on Australia as a whole.

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