Our quest to name and rank the most
government-dependent major listed companies continues apace with
another five prominent examples of a corporate system which can’t seem
to produce enough Australian companies kicking goals on the global
stage – without propping them up by some sort of state support.

ASX:
The ASX itself is a lucrative monopoly which required new legislation
out of Canberra to float on itself. ASX chairman Maurice Newman is
great mates with the PM and the stockbrokers club covered both sides
nicely by appointing Kim Beazley’s former chief-of-staff Michael
Costello as deputy chief executive when they needed the new laws passed
in Canberra. Anything which can generate a 200-fold return for
investors over ten years is clearly a lucrative monopoly and the ASX
could be stuffed in an instant if Canberra imposed some price
regulation through the ACCC.

Unitab: The old Queensland
TAB operates with government licences and also runs the wagering
monopolies in South Australia and the Northern Territory that have been
very lucrative given that its share price has increased by more than
600% since floating in the late 1990s.

National Australia Bank:
Has been overtaken as Australia’s biggest bank by the CBA but is still
a hugely profitable member of the lucrative banking cartel and also
relies on government-mandated superannuation through its MLC wealth
management division.

Transurban: Has interests in three
lucrative toll roads – City Link in Melbourne and the M2 and Westlink
M7 in Sydney – all of which have long-term contracts with state
governments. The tolling risk is minimised by not having government or
a third party regulator being able to set prices, but cooperation with
government is still vital, especially if expansion plans are to be
fulfilled.

Austereo: When Village Roadshow donated almost
$3 million to the Liberal Party in the late 1990s, it gave an insight
into how lucrative scarce radio licences are. Austereo has two FM
licences in most capital cities and, despite the entry of DMG, Village
has still tripled its original investment, largely because we still
have fewer licences per capita than most other democracies.

Peter Fray

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