Labor MP Husic slams NBN schedule …?


news Federal Labor MP Ed Husic has taken the unusual step of harshly criticising his own party’s National Broadband Network project for neglecting several suburbs in his electorate which he said suffered from “a chronic lack of access to broadband”.

The National Broadband Network Company yesterday revealed the locations where it will roll out its national fibre and wireless network over the next 12 months, with cities, towns and suburbs all over Australia to receive the infrastructure in an accelerated process throughout 2012.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Husic said he had raised the issue of broadband coverage in the suburbs of Woodcroft and Doonside several times in parliament, as well as speaking NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley of the issue when he visited Doonside last month.

“Network access is so congested and so bad in parts of Woodcroft, residents tell me they sometimes have to wait for someone to move out of the suburb before an existing resident can get ADSL access,” said Husic. “On top of that, residents have told me time after time that wireless services are slow or unreliable. Businesses in Woodcroft Shopping Centre have told me about how their work is affected by a lack of quality internet access – and they’re surprised that the internet access they take for granted elsewhere in Western Sydney can’t be duplicated in Woodcroft.”

Husic said that when NBN Co announced its second release sites last year, “a range of suburbs” in the Riverstone area adjacent to Woodcroft and Doonside were slated to receive the NBN infrastructure. However, he said the announcement yesterday referred only to areas outside the release site getting priority access.

“Only one suburb in the second release site is having work start on rolling out the NBN and new suburbs outside the release site are being pencilled for work – that’s just not on,” Husic said. “The release sites were supposed to provide a range of network scenarios to help NBN Co learn how to best rollout broadband networks across different landscapes. I would have thought Woodcroft would be an ideal suburb to test that out, given the network challenges confronting it.”

“Instead, NBN Co is making a big deal out of rolling out broadband in new estates where people haven’t even moved in, while down the road people are tearing their hair out to get ADSL or decent wireless access. As a local MP, I don’t think NBN Co is doing what it’s supposed to do: to lift struggling businesses and residents out of the digital divide and give them access to vital infrastructure.

“Let me say this loud and clear: residents in our local neighbourhoods deserve better. Residents in the neighbourhoods I’m proud to represent deserve better – and I’ll be raising this matter formally with the Minister for Communications to understand why the pleas of Woodcroft and Doonside residents have been ignored by NBN Co.”

Very amusing and tactical argument from Ed Husic here. It serves many aims.

Firstly, Husic’s a genuine sort of fellow, so I have no doubt that there are broadband problems in the suburbs he mentions. As a local MP, it’s great that he’s championing the cause of residents and businesses, yaddah, yaddah yaddah.

However, his statement today also serves other, more political purposes.

Yesterday, Coalition MP Paul Fletcher, whose electorate is also in Sydney, accused NBN Co and the Government of playing politics in rolling out the NBN over the next year to Labor, Greens and marginal electorates where it could get votes. Husic’s press release today, complaining about NBN Co’s choices, allows the Government to loudly proclaim the falsity of Fletcher’s claims and that NBN Co is independent (which I actually believe it largely is, having seen Mike Quigley at work).

After all, it can argue, even Labor’s own MPs are frustrated with the rollout schedule.

Secondly, while on the face of it Husic is complaining about the NBN, he’s also actually attempting to demonstrate demand for the overall NBN policy objective. If his voters are crying out for better broadband, so the Labor argument would go, the NBN policy must be a good one.

And lastly, of course, complaining about a government policy allows Labor to position itself in public as being democratic. It’s good form for an MP to stand up for their electorate and defy their own party leadership when necessary — and today’s announcement allows Husic to position himself as doing that, even while Labor at large is profiting from the whole exercise.

Of course, the press will eat it up. Australians love nothing better than an underling rebelling against the boss in public. It’s our underdog meme in action.

Now, Ed Husic is a good ethical guy, to our knowledge, and we respect him. However, he’s also a smart cookie. I’m betting he’s run this statement through the office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, or at least got it verbally approved. And I’m betting Conroy was all for it, for all the reasons I’ve outlined above. Even if he didn’t; there is no doubt that Husic will be aware of all of the factors above which I have mentioned. For those who doubt my my analysis of this, I encourage you to read Chris Berg’s excellent dissection of the Gillard Government’s threat to cut medical research funding.

This is hardly a new tactic for Labor. In fact, it’s an oldie — but a goodie.

Image credit: Believed to be public domain or out of copyright


  1. I honestly dont understand these complaints about the roll-out schedule. Everyone knows it is a 9 year project and have accepted that. Some places will get it in 2012 others 2020. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

    • of course they all know it’s a 9 year project, but nobody wants to actually have to wait 9 years to get theirs.

      plus there’s still the shadow of an early project shutdown by a liberal government hanging over everything which gives even more reason to want to be first in line.

      • That’s understandable of course. I want a 100/40mbps as much as anyone else but you have to be realistic. Some places will get it first and others later, that is just the nature of the roll-out… any Liberal party zoo crew members complaining can just move lol.

      • With the liberal government complaining so much; they SHOULD roll out to labor and other unsafe seats (for both sides); so at least they can comment (with their vote) accurately with actual experience on whether the NBN is a worth while investment.

  2. *Husic’s press release today, complaining about NBN Co’s choices, allows the Government to loudly proclaim the falsity of Fletcher’s claims and that NBN Co is independent*

    bbbbbbzzzzzzzzzzz…. false.

    Ed Husic is in the safe Labor seat of Chifley.

    Labor NBN pork barrelling isn’t needed (as much) for a safely-held Labor seat, named after a Labor PM to boot!

    • oh, by the way, Chifley has been held by Labor for the past 40 years (at least).

      in fact, it’s currently being held by a margin of almost 25% (two party preferred). i can’t imagine a 25% swing in 2013.

      oh, here’s a relevant quote:

      “Chifley has been won by the Labor Party at every federal election since its creation in 1969, and is currently one of the party’s safest seats.”

      wow, Labor isn’t even competent at organising political charades.


    • at least with the cvc issue (now pretty much remedied, exactly as nbnco said they would if need be…sigh) you had something, even if minimalistic,

      but this…rofl.

      as if both sides don’t look after ‘their seats’, seriously (ooh BTW – i live in a safe liberal electorate and i still support the nbn)…!

    • I’m sorry, but if you had to rely on the collective wisdom of Cabinet, you would have to wait a long time to come up with a move that shrewd.

      Husic knows exactly what he is doing, and the timing is perfect.

  3. The most hilarious complaint was from Fletcher, when he whinged that in Tasmania, only ALP and Independent seats were in the rollout area.

    …which would be because the Coalition don’t have ANY seats in Tas at all. Not a one!

  4. “every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust” – zig ziglar

    i/ the average Australian household has NO NEED for fibre broadband, so NBNco resorts to ridiculously-contrived scenarios like online, video-conferenced jam sessions to sell the white elephant infrastructure;

    ii/ the Labor Government has NO MONEY in the Federal Budget to fund the $50bln project cost, so they resort to the fiction that the NBN will pay for itself as a standalone, incorporated entity;

    iii/ there is NO HURRY to immediately upgrade 90% of the population to fibre, so Conroy employs the Chewbacca Defence and argues that building FTTN would trigger billions of dollars of compensation to Telstra;

    iv/ there is NO DESIRE for fibre broadband, so NBNco is unable to extract a market premium and is forced to under-recover costs and temporarily facilitate RSPs implementing ADSL-equivalent pricing;

    v/ there is NO TRUST that the Labor Government can competently execute the biggest infrastructure project in the nation’s history, so they brought in a private sector executive from a large multinational to lend credibility to the project.

  5. As someone who actually lives in Woodcroft NSW the problems here are very real regardless of Husic’s political maneuvering. There are no free ADSL ports left in this suburb due to the extensive use of RIM’s. It’s been like this for the last 7 years. For those who missed out there is 3G broadband but that is hopelessly congested because of the aforementioned problem.

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