Nationals blast Labor’s NBN project


Nationals leader Warren Truss has blasted Labor’s National Broadband Network project, as increasing signs continue to mount that the clutch of independent MPs who will decide the next Federal Government are highly concerned about telecommunications and broadband as an issue.

Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie briefly listed the NBN as an issue in his initial letter to both sides of Government as he opened negotiations for which side he will back and backed the NBN project in comments made to the ABC last week.

Greens MP Adam Bandt’s party is behind the NBN, and the trio of rural independents has flagged telecommunications as an issue in their own negotiations.

However, in a press conference broadcast by ABC News 24 today, Truss said it was the Coalition’s broadband policy that would deliver to rural Australia first.

“One of the key differences with Labor is that our intention is to seek out areas which have poor broadband coverage now and deliver to them,” he told journalists. “We intend to lead with private sector investment — Labor intends to lead with taxpayers’ money”.

Truss claimed that Labor’s policy would rule out rural towns with less than 1,000 residents from receiving fibre broadband and would duplicate existing fixed networks in metropolitan areas. The Coalition’s policy would deliver to the bush faster than Labor’s, he claimed.

Truss noted that both policies featured similar technologies — fibre-optic cable, as well as wireless and satellite solutions. However, he said, the Coalition’s policy would use more wireless than Labor would.

Broadband was one of the key points of differentiation that the major parties took into the election, which resulted in a hung parliament, with Labor’s plan to roll out fibre around the nation and the Coalition’s more minimalist approach targeting regions which had pain points such as a lack of competitive backbaul back to metro areas, and using wireless for others.

Various points of both plans have been criticised by the independents, however one common theme is that several of the minor parties and independents — such as the Greens and Bob Katter — appear to feel Labor’s fledgling NBN Co should remain in public hands.

The wireless portion of the Coalition’s plan has also been a bone of contention, with most of the industry seeing fixed broadband as the more viable long-term option. However some NBN critics — such as Exetel chief John Linton — have repeatedly highlighted the growing demand for mobile broadband as one indication that Australia doesn’t need fibre rolled out around the nation.

Image credit: Bidgee, GNU Free Documentation License


  1. Umm, how does the Coalition’s broadband get delivered first when they have to wait for the licenses for the wireless frequency to be freed on 2014?

  2. There is plenty of wireless spectrum available in the bush. The pace of the NBN residential fibre rollout has been painfully slow. It’ll be 20 years before it is all done.

    • It is a trial, with a few people working on it, whenif the mainland rollout starts it’s going to have many times the amount of guys working on it.

    • Just wondering what credentials you hold in the industry Dave? I am interested to find out how you came to the conclusion that there is plenty of spectrum in the bush.

      Wireless may be good for those people who just want to get on the net and browse webpages and send emails, but if you want to do anything more then that then wireless is painfully slow and it’s latency is a killer for online gamers.

      Also, you made mention that the NBN is being rolled out painfully slow. You can keep up to date on the issues through the NBNCo. website, along with the DBCDE website. They are choosing test sites first and rolling out the fibre in different parts of Australia in order to learn all of the lessons they need when rolling out to the rest of the masses at full speed.

      ADSL is worn out, everyone is getting the most speed they can out of the aged network. After all, I am on an ADSL2+ connection and am lucky to sync at 6Mbit but my actual download speeds don’t pass 4Mbit. Honestly we need to do something as 4Mbit is so slow in today’s standards, especially when you look at the rest of the world.

      Yes fibre-optic is costly, but so have been all of the past communication investments. In terms of cost per household it is actually cheaper to deploy fibre-optic today then it was to rollout the copper network in Australia. I think Mike Quigley quoted history of the copper network costing about $1500 per household, whereas the NBN will cost about $1200 per household and that is to service more households then when they rolled out the copper network.

      Anyway, it is just a waiting game at this stage, however I really get my back up when politicians start talking about IC&T matters that NONE of them have any idea about. They are all clueless but all have an opinion on OUR broadband needs. At least the ALP went to the industry and asked for professional and qualified advice before coming up with the NBN.

      It just makes me wonder who on earth has been advising the Coalition for them to formulate their policy. Clearly the advice is from people/companies that will gain from the decision, such as Exetel who are trying to grow their wireless membership along with the HarbourSat which is an Australian satellite broadband retailer.

  3. Some errors of fact on his part- at least towns of less then 700 people are slated to get NBN fibre, its shown on the coverage maps.

    Criticising the NBN for a slow rollout is hardly fair considering the start up phase & the fact that they are now in lockdown because of the election.

  4. So long as the coalition is fixated on wireless as a quick fix they will continue to have no credibility.

  5. I must be reading something different as only last week Tony Abbot said rural areas would not be looked at until after the next election. As in nothing for them for the next 3(?) years.

    As to a wireless solution, you still need the fibre connections to the towers or you just have a expencive metal tree, so a fibre backbone for the NBN is still needed first.

    As to John Linton, He resells Optus wirless, and anyone that has used that in conjested areas knows how usable that is as a broadband replacement technology.

  6. Dont be stupid there is no need to roll out the NBN or to roll out Wireless in the bush
    Just give Telstra a few hundred million and they will let us all use their next G at a real good price

    Telstra’s 42Mbps Next G broadband goes live

    Of course if your in the bush then the odds are that any tower will be locked down to 3mbps which you may or may not get and any other place will be just as slow with congestion but hey just look at that PEAK SPEED

    Here is Telstras disclaimer

    Things you need to know
    * Typical download speeds with the Ultimate® device in all Capital CBD’s and selected metropolitan, regional and rural areas are from 1.1Mbps to 20Mbps. Capital CBD’s means within 5km from the GPO in each capital city. Outside the selected areas, the remaining metropolitan areas of all capitals cities and many other regional and rural locations support typical download speeds from 550kbps to 8Mbps, and elsewhere typical speeds are from 550kbps to 3Mbps. Actual speeds vary due to factors such as distance from the cell, local conditions, user numbers, hardware, software and download source.
    ^ Based on devices in the market as at 24 August 2010.

    Simply put we the Australian people and the Australian economy as a whole can not afford to be left behind in an informational backwater any longer. The trading of information in many guises is happening now and is a growing trend This will continue long after we have sold our last ounce of ore
    Prepare for the future now or continually live in the past
    Now is the time to choose

  7. They’re worried because they know what they want to dish out is rubbish and inferior compared to the NBN.

  8. Wireless should be in the mix. It’s not THE answer. eg I’ve been at a conference at Darling Harbour. Getting email on NextG in a break was just about impossible, because about 100 people on a break decided to do the same thing on their smart phones and laptops at the same time.

    It was worse for the vedors demonstrating products on a wireless connection. They had to ask interested people to return after the break when some bandwidth was freed up.

    Also aren’t the coalition only committing $140 million spend in their first year of government. I can’t see them moving in a hurry. Then there’s the aging copper in the ground that doesn’t get addressed by the coalition.

    With the National Farmer’s Federation endorsing Labor’s NBN, this smells a lot like political spin from Truss.

  9. Have a read of the Liberal Party’s “policy” – most of the pitiful amount of work they’re going to do isn’t even slated to start until 2014, which means they’ll be going to the next election with next to nothing to show for it. And with the current air of uncertainty in the political arena, it’s likely that we’ll have had two elections by that time. Once again, the media have been asleep at the wheel. When the NBN announcement was made in April 2009, some National MPs were accusing the ALP of “stealing their idea.” Now they’re suddenly (and quite vehemently) against it? And where did this faith in the private sector suddenly come from? Regional Australia has been practically ignored by the private sector (in regards to telecommunications), and they expect a few billion in subsidies to trigger a complete reversal of that trend? This is more proof that the Nationals are in the midst of a long, drawn-out political suicide. It’s high time they actually grew a pair and stood up for their constituents, rather than blindly following the dictates of their big-city brothers for the sake of unity. It should come as no surprise that three of the four new independents in the House of Reps are from regional electorates.

  10. I think that the National Boradband Plan is better than the Optus lead Opel plan of the Coalition as it is wrong not to place in New Infrastructure that Australia has needed for a while now as, you know the wilress spectrum needs fibre to operate off anyway as I believe that over time they’ll most likely place the National Boradband Network on the ASX but with the futures fund of Government having a default of 10 to 30% of anf also with the National Broadband Network will be there for years to come but the Copper will be pulled up and recycled buy the Government for a profit so I think that you should never jump the gun and say thing like Warren Trus has as it is bad for business if they can’t get the latest material out to there customers quick enough.
    So I think that they need to find out how much it will help the economy grow in the long term!!! Also the Coalition have lost there touch

  11. The Nationals are a joke of a political party. Years ago they saw the need for a fibre network, much like Labor’s, due to it’s advantages in the bush.

    Even when Labor announced it, they praised the idea. It’s only because of their allegience with the Coalition that they’ve had to reject it – merely to save face.

    The Coalition clearly isn’t working. Time to disband and stand for what they believe.

  12. ‘”We intend to lead with private sector investment — Labor intends to lead with taxpayers’ money”

    *Looks at Tesltra*

    Yup, private sector investment sure is grand. Especially that whole pair gain thing – private sector quality for sure. The private sector monopoloies like Telstra sure have done wonders for Australia’s ranking compared to other developed countries’ telecommunications infrastructure to date after all.

    • Precisely, Abbotts plan
      $2billion for private investment
      $2billion for fixing up where private investment has left blackspots

      Abbotts OWN PLAN proves that private companies can’t lay the required infrastructure

      It costs way more for private companies to lay this stuff because they have to go through council planning etc, but the government can just lay it wherever they want almost.

  13. The biggest thing about the liberals / coalition is they never invest in infrastructure and all they think about high end of town and do nothing for the working class. Typical liberals and nationals have the interests of the business community only and therefore no insight to what is really needed in australia. more over they never their broadband approach lag behind world standards and this is really laughable. They dont even have a plan they are misguided. Any body who opposes the NBN is backward and should be living in a backward country

  14. This guy has no idea whatsoever. Go back to sleep Truss! What yoy have said makes no sense whatsoever is beyond silly and childish.

  15. Truss is too black and white/shallow for me. Hellooooo Truss but it is not just about the ageing population but about the future of our great country and future generations. The technology can be adapted to the use of numerous practical applications to actually benefit the diversity of our population. The benefits are extremely significant. Truss you obviously have no idea whatsoever or imagination on this one. Your type of thinking is 50′s thought and certainly not progressive. This is something we need to steer away from that is for 100% certain. The economic benefits in the future will be tremendous. There arer a few reasons I always opted not to go with exetel and this type of thing coming from this guy is one of them. He calls others stupid but does not realize how stupid it is what he is sayingbecause he is a one dimensional thinker who is stuck and does not see the other colors of the spectrum. Working for exetel one would think he may have some kind of idea of the benefits that will arise from the NBN. He obviously has zero idea.

    And don’t even get me started on the wireless. What a silly thing to say Truss! You most certainly have no idea whatsoever what you are talking about. The NBN’s benefits are too significant not to go down this path. The speeds and levels of access even in remote will increase significantly with the NBN. And the future is too bright for us not to go down this path. Yes the costs initially are big but will be much bigger if we keep neglecting this area and do not do something about it NOW. We need to be progressive and think of our future. Time to get off the copper which is ancient now.

    The economic benefits will be massive in the future as a direct result of the NBN. Industry from all sectors will benefit and will provide benefits to all parts of our population. Practical applications and future developments will see benefits that we can not even fathom at this stage yet. Time to get innovative and use our imaginations. The limits of the NBN can not even be imagined yet. The potetntial is too big for us not to go down this path.

  16. Many towns with under 1000 population will get FTTH, one of them only has a population of 90 or so…

  17. The Nationals Warren Truss has his facts wrong. There will be no bandwidth available for the Coalitions plan until the Digital Dividend becomes available (2014 at the earliest), a spectrum that Labor plans on leasing to our Telcos as they desperatly need the bandwidth.

  18. Truss and the Nationals are part of the coalition so they have to say the NBN is rubbish whether they like it or not. Although if I were a National being pushed to the side like used trash as Abbott is doing to them at the moment I would be included to cease the coalition and go out on my own. They supposedly represent the people from country areas and yet they sit next to Abbott – quite a contradiction there I would think.

  19. I laugh a bit at the claim that the coalition’s plan for the bush would be using private investment. Perhaps someone should tell Mr. Truss that the coalition’s plan involves private investment in the major cities and tax payer money would subsidise the bush roll out (OPEL Mark II). So regardless of ALP or coalition plan tax payers will fund the rollout in the rural areas that Mr. Truss is complaining about

  20. “One of the key differences with Labor is that our intention is to seek out areas which have poor broadband coverage now and deliver to them,” he told journalists. “We intend to lead with private sector investment — Labor intends to lead with taxpayers’ money”.

    So in other words more of what we have now. Here in the Daintree we have the sole option of Telstra NextG. Yesterday we finally had our service restored after an outage that totaled three months. Yes, three months. It took a second tower failing, the involvement of the TIO, Telstra’s CEO, the Communications Minister and the new federal member of Leichardt to get that result. Even this morning Telstra refused to admit there was any fault prior to the tower in Port Douglas failing on the 2nd of August.

    Yep, I’m looking forward to the private sector running the show. More of the same = more nothing. The coalition plan is so short sighted and blinkered I just want to grab Truss and shake some sense into him.

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