On banking regulations

Ken McAlpine writes: Re .”In a double dissolution, who gets three-year terms and who gets the full six?” (May 18). Good article. However, this statement:

“In 1951, Robert Menzies’ government wanted to reverse the proposal to nationalise the banks, which had been put in place by Ben Chifley’s government. Following the double dissolution election, Menzies’ government was successful in this.”

Is not correct. Outrageously, the Chifley government’s legislation to nationalise the banks had already been declared unconstitutional by the High Court. The 1951 Banking Bill was not to reverse nationalisation, but to remove democratic control of the Commonwealth Bank. Chifley tried to nationalise the banks in the late 40s. The law was passed but was declared invalid by the High Court (confirmed by the Privy Council in London). The Banking Bill of Menzies (1951) which was the basis of the double dissolution simply removed the capacity of the government to directly control the Commonwealth Bank, thereby relieving the private banks of its aggressive competition.

On the NBN

David Edmunds writes: Re. “Sliding doors” (yesterday). With reference to sliding doors yesterday, the NBN was built precisely because private industry — and in particular Telstra — was not prepared to rebuild our telecommunications system so it was able to carry ubiquitous fast broadband.  Telstra had good commercial reasons for not doing so.  All ubiquitous infrastructure in Australia has been built by government.  Consider roads, rail, power distribution, public schools, aviation infrastructure and the telephone system.  There is an ideological belief by the right that private industry can do this better, but it has never been tested and private industry has shown no interest in building a model that could provide such infrastructure.

The NBN was an astonishing opportunity for this country.  Of course there were problems.  How anyone could expect such a system to be built from scratch and not have to develop expertise along the way is beyond comprehension. For all that, the design of the NBN as conceived under Labor has proved to be just about right.

Now, courtesy of the coalition we will have an obsolete system built for pretty much the same cost as the original NBN.  In the not too distant future most of it will be replaced by the NBN as originally conceived, at vast expense.  Additionally, there will be a considerable impact on the economy for not having the properly designed NBN, and the loss of economic activity created just through the development of the expertise in rolling out the NBN alone.

So much for an innovative and forward-thinking Australia.