blog Regular readers will know that I believe Labor’s National Broadband Network policy to currently be the best telecommunications policy on offer in Australia, although I have also publicly stated that the Coalition’s rival policy is a workable policy that has the potential to achieve some of the same aims. However, I am conscious that this is a minority view and that the overwhelming majority of Australia’s technology community is starkly on the side of the NBN in this long-running and vitriolic debate. The NBN has stood the test of time and Coalition criticism.
That’s why it’s not hard to understand the sheer frustration and disappointment in this public letter to Shadow Communications by local IT pro Kieran Cummings, who, you will recall, was behind the attempt to clear up Tony Abbott’s little server timestamp issue. On his blog, Cummings writes (we recommend you click here for the full post):
“I write this letter out of frustration & disappointment in your current discourse regarding the state & future of Australian telecommunications. I have been working in IT for almost 20 years & have been supportive of any positive change to Australia’s ailing copper network. Over the past few years you have done nothing but attempt to sabotage the largest infrastructure project Australia (maybe even the world) has ever seen, all for political gain while not considering the consequences of your actions.
After watching the speech you gave at Woodford Folk Festival I feel that your hypocrisy has gone too far.
You speak of truth in politics, of ’one-line sound bites’, of the need for fact checking, yet you have spent the last year lying, using one-line sound bites, & denouncing those fact checkers you demand. When presented with evidence you are dismissive at best, downright ignorant at worst. When asked for your broadband policy documents, you refuse to hand them over to anyone. When asked for evidence to back up your claims, you attack the National Broadband Network.”
There’s a lot more in this vein, and I have to say, while I don’t agree with everything written here, I do feel as though Cummings has accurately summed up the views of most of those who work in Australia’s technology industry towards the Coalition’s approach to technology and telecommunications policy at this point. Not since Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was strongly pushing the Internet filter project several years ago have I seen this level of frustration with a politician regarding a technology policy.
I’ve expressed the sentiment before in several articles that I don’t believe Turnbull is currently measuring up to the ideals which he publicly espouses. I have particularly been unimpressed with the way Turnbull has publicly slandered the well-regarded chief executive of NBN Co, Mike Quigley, and there’s a range of other areas in which Turnbull could have pulled his head in by now. I am especially tired of Turnbull railing against the media for what he claims is its pro-NBN bias.
Do I still have faith in Malcolm Turnbull? Yes. He’s still my preferred leader of the Liberal Party and I feel he would make an excellent Prime Minister or Communications Minister, although he will have to try hard to better the accomplishments of Stephen Conroy in the portfolio. I feel many of Turnbull’s best years are ahead of him.
However, like Cummings, as a new year dawns, I also feel it a good time to remind Turnbull and the Coalition in general that with the overwhelming majority of Australia in favour of the NBN and it being a factor in the Coalition not winning the 2010 Federal Election, it may be a good time to re-evaluate Coalition policy in this area.
It’s usually not a fantastic idea to take policies to elections which are unpopular, and it’s usually not a good idea to sledge the media for pointing out that fact and the holes in your rival policy. The Coalition’s rival NBN policy still needs a great deal of work, and I’d prefer that a more comprehensive version was released sometime soon to give us enough time to analyse it — not days before the election like last time. And if Turnbull could tone down some of the vitriol along the way and bring rogue NBN commentators like Christopher Pyne and Joe Hockey into line as well, that would a very good thing. At that stage, a lot of this industry bile towards Turnbull and his colleagues would start to disappear.
Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull