National broadband provider Internode this morning claimed Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull secretly “loves the NBN as a concept”, despite having been given an order by Opposition Leader to “demolish” the project.
Turnbull has had a history of involvement in the technology sector — ranging from his key role in the formation and sale of early Australian internet service provider OzEmail to his family’s investment in internet-focused businesses such as Webcentral and Chaos.com. In addition, he remains one of the only Federal Government politicians to make daily use of such personal technologies as the Apple iPad and Twitter — as well as recently ditching his BlackBerry for an iPhone.
The former Opposition Leader has also declared he enjoys the “often quite feisty” debates he regularly participates in on Twitter with respect to topics such as the National Broadband Network, noting that the medium was a good one for examining the quality of people’s arguments.
Asked on radio 5AA in Adelaide about Turnbull this morning, Internode carrier relations manager John Lindsay said Turnbull secretly loved the NBN project. “Something that I find when I talk to Malcolm Turnbull about this is that he’s got this kind of light in his eyes, he loves the NBN as a concept — because deep down he’s a technocrat,” Lindsay told listeners.
“But his job is to be the opposition spokesman for telecommunications.”
Turnbull’s approach to criticising the National Broadband Network has focused on the economics of the project — in keeping with the Coalition’s general focus on fiscal responsibility — rather than the technology involved in the rollout per se.
In a speech to parliament last week associated with the second reading of key NBN legislation re-introduced by the Federal Government, Turnbull reiterated that the Coalition was “fully committed, as I think all Australians are”, to the existence of “universal availability of fast broadband at an affordable price”.
“The most important issue of difference between the coalition and the government on this is the fact that the government is proceeding to achieve this goal, so it says, without any effort or attempt to determine whether the approach they are taking is the most cost-effective one,” he said.
Turnbull also attacked the government for its agreement with the Greens — which are opposed to privatising the NBN — on the terms under which the network and its associated company could be sold off.
“One of the prices that the Prime Minister has paid for the support of the Greens is the agreement to make the NBN virtually impossible to sell,” said Turnbull. “The way the legislation works is that it cannot be sold until such time as it is complete. It cannot be sold when it is part built; it must be absolutely complete. Looking around the room, there are a few of the younger members that may still be here when it is built, but I suspect those of us here around the table probably will not be here by that time.”
Despite Lindsay’s belief, Turnbull has also recently confirmed the Coalition would halt the NBN project if it took government in the next election — noting construction would be stopped while a cost/benefit analysis was conducted and a variety of other measures taken.
The interview with Lindsay is available online as an MP3.
Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull