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Sep 30, 2012

Conroy’s fetish for power and red underpants

The Australian Communication Minister, Stephen Conroy likes his power unfettered, and his businessmen with red underpants on their heads.  No, seriously this is fair dincum.  Steve is the guy who wants to legislate to license reporters, have a ‘fit and proper person’ test for media owners, and install a super regulator to control all media down as far as blogs which get more than forty three hits per day.  Well actually the whole government wants this, but it is Steve’s bailiwick.
On the infrastructure front, just as everyone is moving rapidly towards mobile devices, Steve is spending (depending on whose estimates are being used) around 43 billion on a super dooper broadband network. 
This might explain the figure of 43 hits on every blog mentioned above; one hit per day per billion dollars.  If this is the case, a lot of bloggers will be relieved.  With the usual cost blowouts from this government they will probably be able to get around 120 per day before the department sends them a CD of “I’ll be watching you.”
But, getting back to the power thing, he has felt it satisfying to let the Yanks know in no uncertain terms, just how important he believes himself to be: 
“The regulation of telecommunications powers in Australia is exclusively federal," Mr Conroy said during a speech to the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information conference in New York last week.  “I have unfettered legal power. 
"If I say to everyone in this room ‘if you want to bid in our spectrum auction you’d better wear red underpants on your head’, I’ve got some news for you. You’ll be wearing them on your head.” 
A video of his speech has been made available online.  Conroy was arguing against a proposal by the International Telecommunications Union to introduce a new sender party pays regime for international internet settlements - a move that could push up the price of broadband in Australia. 
The senator claimed the proposal could see telcos charged more for cable access, the costs of which could ultimately be passed onto consumers and said the government would consider creating its own subsea cable. 
His comments were derided by Opposition spokesperson for Communication, Malcolm Turnbull, who said his speech showed he was a "control freak". 
“As Mark Twain said confessions are good for the soul but bad for the reputation but never more so than when a cabinet minister confesses to rampant megalomania.” ...
He has also come up with the idea of building a new undersea cable to the US if prices don’t fall.  Taxpayers who are nostalgic for the good old days before satellites wont mind putting up the money, after all, Conroy has unfettered power.

The item doesn't mention whether the American businessmen were impressed or not, but the statement will certainly be taken into account if or when they consider risking their capital here.  This power mad idiot represents unacceptable sovereign risk in his own right.

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