Telecommunications infrastructure in Australia

A Critique of Communications Policy in Australia

Andrew Madsen, Michael De Percy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Historically, government ownership and control of telecommunications infrastructure has been regarded as the most appropriate way to deliver infrastructure and services in Australia (Postmaster‐General's Department ; Barr ). Issues such as geographical isolation and political concerns for equitable access, coupled with the London Colonial Office's preferred approach, were early drivers of communications policy (Gascoigne 2002:82; Moyal :20). As a consequence of government provision, politics has been an enduring feature of the communications sector in Australia (AT&T ). As Andrew Madsen describes it, the development of the Australian communications sector has occurred in three major historical phases: (1) government monopoly provision (from the time of the telegraph until the late 1980s), (2) managed competition/liberalisation (1990s), and (3) competition and government intervention including the privatisation of Telstra (Productivity Commission :583). Much of Australia's approach to governing communications technologies established during the first phase has become the dominant rationale for communications policy in the present, particularly in relation to fixed‐line services, where politics continues to play a key role (De Percy & Batainah ). This paper complements Madsen's more descriptive paper by providing a critique of communications policy in Australia, focusing on the National Broadband Network and the legacies that influence policy options for the sector in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-238
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Volume55
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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