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New chief economist at Communications to lay out facts

Telecommunications and media consultant Dr Paul Paterson has been appointed to the newly created role of chief economist at the Department of Communications.

He will lead the department’s new Bureau of Communications Research, which was established today and is tasked with producing in-house economic research and market analysis. Paterson (pictured) started work at the department a fortnight ago.

“The bureau has been set up to ensure the department’s policy advice to the minister is fact-based,” he told The Mandarin.

The advertisement for the job, posted online in January, said the bureau would also “contribute to informing public debate and the community’s awareness of emerging trends in the communications sector”. On the chief economist’s role, the advertisement said:

“Reporting to the secretary of the department, the chief economist will establish and lead the bureau, developing the bureau’s business principles and operating model, creating a dedicated team of economists and researchers, and engaging collaboratively with departmental staff and across the portfolio to strengthen their research and analytical capabilities.

“The head of the bureau will build and maintain the bureau’s professional independence, transparency and quality of research, and will be expected to engage with the communications research and analysis community across government, academia and the private sector, both within Australia and globally.”

The new research bureau is part of a major restructure which began last September and aimed to “build a new Department of Communications”, according to a spokesperson.

Paterson currently serves on the New South Wales Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and runs his own consulting business. He has held senior roles in the private sector as a strategic advisor and consultant on telecommunications since 2004, following six years with Telstra during the transition to a competitive telecommunications market.

He managed Telstra’s role in the process of opening up the public telephone network to competition before taking on the role of director of regulation, overseeing the telco’s relationships with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and Australian Communications and Media Authority.

In the 1990s, Paterson worked for the NSW government, first as chief economist in the Premier’s Department and later as executive director of policy and resources in the Department of State and Regional Development.

He has also worked as chief economist and as director of strategy for OTC Limited, the modern incarnation of the former Overseas Telecommunications Commission.

Author Bio

Stephen Easton

Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.