WHAT would it mean if the Australian government abandoned economic growth as a public policy objective?
This is what the Australian Greens party wants. Its updated policy platform, adopted last November, says "pursuit of continuous material-based economic growth is incompatible with the planet's finite resources". It calls for growth in production and consumption to be deprioritised as a goal of economic policy.
The just completed auction of radiofrequency spectrum for wireless broadband services has produced, by any measure, a disappointing result. It raised much less than $2 billion - after Communications Minister Stephen Conroy took the unusual step last year of directly intervening to set an extraordinarily high reserve price equating to nearly $3 billion. Conroy said the asset was the "waterfront property" of spectrum.
NBN Co budgeted $11.3 billion to build the network past 10.2 million existing (or ‘brownfields’) premises by 2021: that’s a cost per premises of $1100. The Coalition has been pressing NBN Co for some time to reveal its actual cost per premises on the parts of the network built to date.
Most commentary on the Coalition’s recently released broadband policy, inevitably, has concentrated on download speeds and capital cost.
But just as important are the measures in the policy to stimulate competition in the Australian broadband market.
WE hear a lot from the Gillard government about manufacturing, with summits, and policy statements and taskforces.
Manufacturing is of course vitally important, but it is odd that we hear much less about services, even though it is a substantially bigger sector. In 2010-11 services constituted $923 billion, or 77.6 per cent of industry output (compared with mining at 10.3 per cent and manufacturing at 9.1 per cent).
According to the most recent rhetoric from the Gillard government and its advisers, the superannuation system is a tax rort for the wealthy – indeed senior Minister Craig Emerson says the “fabulously wealthy”.
Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson has complained that the superannuation system – particularly measures to encourage voluntary savings – “come at a …very significant cost”, with Treasury estimating the concessions are worth more than $30 billion a year.
IF NBN Co were a private company, chief executive Mike Quigley would be gone by now.
Last Thursday afternoon, NBN Co put out an announcement confirming what everybody already knew -- it will hopelessly miss its June 30 target for the number of premises to be passed by the fibre network.
It was no suprise that Labor's new industry policy package, announced over the weekend, aims to force greater use of Australian suppliers on Australian resources projects. The Australian Workers Union had been campaigning for "Australian Industry Participation Plans" on major projects for over two years, AWU secretary Paul Howes said in welcoming the announcement.
Over the past 20 years businesses in many different sectors have seen ways to use the internet to serve their customers better.
If you want to book an airline ticket or a hotel, you can do it online – and instantly compare prices across multiple providers. If you are looking for a new house or a new job, the search process is vastly quicker and more informative than in pre-internet days.
The Rudd-Gillard government has badly mismanaged fixed broadband policy: after five years and several billion dollars oftaxpayers' money, as at October 2012 fewer than 7000 customers took a fibre service on the national broadband network. It is now taking an equally inept approach with mobile broadband services, with a seriously flawed approach to allocating a big slice of radio frequency spectrum. In 2013 a key piece of spectrum the 700 megahertz (MHz) band is to be allocated by auction.