Telstra pleads The Castle defence

Have Telstra boss Sol Trujillo and his amigos been taking a crash course in Australian cinematic classics?
Written by Renai LeMay, Contributor

commentary Have Telstra boss Sol Trujillo and his amigos been taking a crash course in Australian cinematic classics?

Renai LeMay, ZDNet Australia
It certainly appears so, as Telstra took its case against the competition regulator to the nation's High Court today, using the exact same argument for just compensation that Darryl Kerrigan did in the 1997 film The Castle.

That is, clause 51 (xxxi) of the Australian Constitution.

Now while the film is a local favourite due to its masterful use of ocker humour, don't expect to see Telstra's chief legal eagle Will Irving up in court claiming "It's Mabo, it's the Constitution, it's the vibe".

He's more likely to be using technical phrases such as "unbundled local loop", "line sharing services", and "declared services".

The end result of Telstra's appeal is also likely to be different.

While Darryl Kerrigan won his case in The Castle, both the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Competition Tribunal have already given Telstra's wholesale pricing proposals short shrift.

In addition, the federal Government has consistently indicated its support for the competition regulator's Telstra constrictions.

It would be a brave High Court that would overturn these authorities and shake up the local telecommunications industry with a pro-Telstra decision. (Of course your writer makes no claim to any legal qualifications or specialist legal knowledge in this case.)

Now of course just like Darryl Kerrigan, Telstra doesn't actually have much capital invested in its High Court challenge -- around AU$1 million in legal costs.

As Telstra's public policy and communications chief Phil Burgess said this morning, this is "a tiny investment for big stakes".

However, the telco's relatively cheap legal move will have another effect -- causing some industry uncertainty about the likely outcome of the case.

This will make long-term planning slightly more difficult for Telstra's competitors and go some way towards maintaining the status quo -- which may be just what Telstra desires.

Meanwhile, Telstra can, as Darryl Kerrigan would have put it, "enjoy the serenity".

What do you think about Telstra's High Court challenge? Fair enough or a step too far? Drop me a line directly at renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au or post your comments below this article.

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