Publication Details

This article was originally published as Mohr, R, Making Money Out of Thin Air: The Politics, Law and Economy of Radio Spectrum, Australian Financial Review, 8 February 2002.


[Extract] Reporting on the Australian government's windfall of $1.3 billion from the auction of radio spectrum in 2000, the Australian Financial Review on 5 May quoted Ian Hayne, the man responsible for the marketing exercise, as saying, "This is better than selling sand to the Arabs or ice to Eskimos... We are really selling nothing here." More circumspectly, he added, "Maybe I shouldn't say that; this is about the right to use a natural resource.''1 Some of his New Zealand counterparts may have thought he should not have said that, either, since they were disputing Maori claims to radio spectrum as a natural resource under the treaty of Waitangi.

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