Sound familiar?

“New firm to tread softly in cable rollout.”

That’s the headline. Yeah, right. It gets better. The rules seem to have changed during the process of the tendering.

Senior executives from construction companies involved in the aborted tender were privately seething yesterday as they noted Silcar appeared to have been given preferential treatment.

Meanwhile, similar arrangements between Canberra and firms seem likely to obtain in the context of the carbon tax. Remember government telling companies to come talk with them privately. Nothing changes, really.

All this “cable rollout” (it all sounds so familiar) assumes the landholder can afford the connection fees. I know we can’t, nor can our landlord. And with no copper remaining. . . .

Yet Kevin Rudd and Guido Westerwelle (Foreign Affairs Minister of Germany), tell us:

New technologies have linked us in ways we could scarcely have imagined before, and now could not imagine doing without.

Not only that but:

[T]he degree of interconnectivity will become unimaginably more complex.

In a typically badly-written Rudd script, they go on, without context just the usual journalistic ‘but’, to discuss cyber warfare etc. implying (denials notwithstanding) imposition of censorship of unhelpful opinion and knowledge. After all, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has responsibility for both, the latter under the innocuous, pseudonymous term of “online safety and security“. This includes “Online content regulation“, where the descriptions of the department’s purpose are so deliberately vague that any function designated by the minister will come under its purview.

Bob Hawke’s infatuation with big government, big companies and big unions seems as alive as ever. Julia Gillard’s original justification for the NBN was downloading movies. No threat there from dissent (except critique of insufficiently progressive government). Quashing dissent provides the most immediate object of the whole exercise.

Update: See also this just published: William Voegeli, ‘Why Corporations Love Regulation’, Commentary Magazine, June 2011. (Subscription required.)



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