“Cheap stunt”: Turnbull rejects Quigley’s olive branch


news Malcom Turnbull has rejected out of hand a suggestion by Mike Quigley that Australia’s telco industry independently back a study into the best technology to deliver Australians the next-generation of broadband infrastructure, with the Shadow Communications Minister describing the NBN Co chief executive’s move as a “cheap stunt”.

On Friday, as one part of a speech given to the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia, Quigley noted that there was likely to be an increasing debate in Australia this year about the merits of different broadband technologies. The Coalition is currently pushing a fibre to the node-based model for Australia’s NBN, in contrast with Labor’s more ambitious fibre to the home vision.

Having that debate was a “good thing”, Quigley said. “The choices we make about our nation’s underlying telecommunications infrastructure will have an impact on how we live, work and compete.” Quigley noted that telco industry representative body the Communications Alliance was currently considering whether to embark on a study of the different options for broadband in Australia, and added that this might represent an opportunity for the industry to have its say on the matter.

“The telecommunications industry is uniquely well-placed to provide context to various policy choices,” Quigley said, noting that the Communications Alliance had long been a forum for discussion and deliberation with respect to these kinds of issues, and might help “bring commercial reality to the theoretical debate” and give policy-makers the advantage of he best information and analysis which could be made available — not just on technical fronts, but with respect regulatory and commercial areas as well.

As he has previously, Quigley noted that it was possible to deploy a number of different technologies to serve Australia’s broadband needs — from the existing FTTP model, to the FTTN approach preferred by the Coalition, to satellite, fixed wireless and HFC cable options.

However, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull instantly rejected Quigley’s comments, in a fiery statement published late on Friday. Turnbull believes such a study would be more properly carried about by the Productivity Commission. “This is the most bizarre twist yet in the debate over broadband policy. Even more bizarre because Mr Quigley has made the announcement without obtaining the agreement of the Communications Alliance to commission the inquiry,” Turnbull said.

“For almost four years, ever since Labor’s $50 billion fibre to the premises NBN was announced in April 2009, the Coalition and many others have called for an independent, transparent review of the options for delivering fast broadband to all Australians. These calls were motivated by our concern that Labor had chosen the slowest and most expensive way of achieving such an upgrade.”

“We noted that Kevin Rudd had gone to the 2007 election pledging that no major infrastructure project would be funded by the Commonwealth without a rigorous cost benefit analysis and we urged Labor to honor that pledge with the NBN – the largest infrastructure project in our country’s history. Throughout this period Mr Quigley and the Government repeatedly and scornfully dismissed such calls. And Labor’s NBN plodded onward, consuming vast amounts of taxpayers’ cash but providing broadband to only a tiny fraction of the 2 million or so Australian premises with inadequate service.”

“Now, just months from an election, Mr Quigley suddenly wants a review – but a hazily conceived and nebulous review on his terms and timing. This isn’t policy on the run; it’s policy chaos.”

Turnbull appended a list of questions to his statement that he demanded Quigley answer; ranging from why Quigley backed the potential Communications Alliance inquiry, to the issue of who would determine the terms of reference, to the issue of why the Communications Alliance should suggest such an inquiry, to the issue of what role prices for end users and value for money for taxpayers would play in evaluating the alternatives.

“Unless clear and credible answers are provided by NBN Co and the Government to all of these questions, Mr Quigley’s remarks today will be exposed for what they appear to be – a cheap stunt to distract attention from NBN Co’s appalling record in executing the rollout.”

Turnbull’s comments have been heavily criticised by several dozen commenters on his own site, with the general sentiment appearing to be that the Coalition should provide further details with respect to its own broadband policy before criticising Quigley’s invitation to the telecommunications industry to make its views known on the future of the NBN.

“Are you worried Malcolm? You should be,” wrote one commenter. “Yes you can huff and puff about questions that need to be answered, but what it will do is make you and the Coalition give detailed answers as to your own ‘non’ policy. Answers that will sink your farce quicker than the Titanic.”

Another added: “Seriously Malcolm … give it a break. The time has come to stop demanding and start giving. You have argued long and hard about doing a [cost/benefit analysis or CBA] on the NBN and have committed any Liberal/National Government to undertake a CBA immediately upon taking over. What I ask is simple: When will you publish the guidelines for any such CBA and will you abide by any recommendations that the CBA puts up? Without such assurances your words are as empty as Quigley’s.”

I attended Quigley’s speech and had the chance to question the NBN Co chief executive extensively afterwards regarding his views on a range of matters (including the proposed Communications Alliance study). In addition, I have had the benefit of closely following Malcolm Turnbull’s movements and statements in the broadband portfolio for several years nows. With this in mind, I feel that I have the ability to make a pretty good, objective call on what’s going on here.

I interpret Quigley’s speech and his support for a Communications Alliance study into the best technologies for Australia’s broadband future as representing an honest and pragmatic approach to provide some rational underpinnings to this year’s election-oriented debate on the issue. It is apparent to Quigley that no matter what happens, his company will be responsible for implementing some form of NBN, and he wants the debate about which firm to be have a sound basis. It is my view that he is acting in this role primarily as the chief executive of a telecommunications company, as a part of the telecommunications industry, and that he is trying to avoid playing any kind of political role. In his speech, Quigley was at pains to emphasise that there are a variety of technologies which could support Australia’s broadband future — from FTTP to FTTN to HFC and beyond.

In contrast, I view Turnbull’s comments on Friday as almost entirely political, and I also believe that he misinterpreted Quigley’s stance here. Turnbull appears to believe that Quigley is merely mindlessly trying to support his political masters, by supporting a Communications Alliance study of this kind, and that Quigley’s move is overtly about politics rather than apolitical.

But I believe he is wrong about this, and I also believe that such a stance undermines Turnbull’s own credibility in the portfolio. It has long been the case that the Opposition of the day refrain from directly criticising public servants and the leaders of government businesses, as they will need to deal with those same executives if they take power.

In this vein, by directly criticising Quigley, Turnbull is breaking with tradition in Australia’s political sector in a manner ill-befitting the man who is Australia’s acknowledged alternative Communications Minister. As I said, I attended Quigley’s speech, and it was overtly apolitical. The NBN Co chief executive has learnt a great deal about engaging with the political process since the 2010 Federal Election, when he overtly criticised the Coalition’s then-rival broadband policy; and I believe he now feels himself to be in a position similar to most of the rest of the public service — largely on the sidelines of the political debate. The Communications Alliance study he is backing would, after all, provide clarity to the policy of both sides of politics, and be an objective good which everyone should welcome.

In my experience, Malcolm Turnbull’s most powerful statements and policies have come about when the Member for Wentworth has gone away, researched and slowly developed a position on a certain matter (for example, see this excellent speech in October last year on data retention and digital freedom). When he shoots from the hip, Turnbull more often tends to miss his target or shoot blanks, and this is what I believe he did last week. Accusing one of Australia’s most respected telecommunications executives of playing politics with the $37 billion infrastructure he is in charge of … just comes across as a little silly.

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. Considering that calls for a CBA has only been recent – I doubt that Malcolm can complain it’s a “Cheap” stunt.

    As shown on Whirlpool Forums, This link was kindly provided by them:


    “As you’d expect the government aren’t likely to produce a report that completely trashes their investment of around £1bn, thus the outcome is broadly positive across multiple fields and largely avoids the often contentious issue of technology choice (FTTH vs FTTC etc.). Sadly the generalised output and use of many different data sources makes this a particularly difficult report to summarise.”

        • The scary thing about that is that they’re selling their solution as “cheaper”, so even if their solution comes in at $99 billion they’ll say they did it cheaper because the NBN was going to cost more than Labor predicted. And that’s the coalition can know beyond reasonable certainty that their solution is “cheaper” and sell it as such to the electorate.

        • I used to make a joke about that 50billion to 100billion “esitimate” by the end of the year back when this topic first cropped its head up.

          How the Coalition will eventually keep increasing the NBN’s “estimated cost” every few months from 30billion, 50billion and eventually 100billion to make it sound like project is a white elephant…

          Unfortunately it looks like they took my joke seriously =/

  2. Is the real problem here that it’s a cheap stunt – in a bad way – or that a cheap stunt is enough to expose FTTN as the non-solution in Australia that it is? Because if it’s the latter then “cheap stunt” is really quite the compliment. But I guess that’s the problem when you Twitter stuff like this: “The Superfast and the Furious: Priorities for the future of UK broadband policy [PDF]“.

    Which amounts to virtually just a UK opinion poll yet seems to be where big part of the coalition’s broadband comes from. Which seems to have been drawn up with the conclusion in mind and combines idiotic populist statements like this:

    > There is no doubt that broadband, both fixed and wireless, makes a major contribution to the economy. But the right person to decide how much speed your family or business needs is you – not the government.

    And a similar question therein – while not the same – but that has more substance contradicts that to a great extent:

    > How confident are you that you could estimate how much data you typically use per month?

    Where for 35-44, not confident, 1-4 out of 10, is at 63%. Or, to again contradict the above statement, extensively uses a source which has previously found that:

    > Across the world as a whole, there is a weak negative relationship between fixed broadband rollout in 2001 and GDP growth 2001-2006 – a result that holds using 2003 rollout and 2003-2008 growth.

    Honestly, if your broadband policy is seemingly based in great part around a schizophrenic report trying to hold together with a bunch of UK opinion polls that don’t even cite the number of respondents in each age group, then a cheap stunt is the best you can hope for to have it smashed. You don’t conduct policy by going by opinion polls, seriously. Also, the results of the Turnbull Broadband Survey, seriously flawed and few data points as it has, are due out before the end of the month apparently. Flawed? Because considering how fragmented the state of broadband is, where one premise may be in a completely different situation from the one two streets over, one data point a suburb isn’t enough to figure out anything, which was the stated intent here.

    That’s not to say that FTTN isn’t the cheaper solution in the short- to medium-term. Nor is it to say that BT was wrong in choosing it. Nor is to to say that it might make some level of sense for some premises here – but hardly more so than a good quality ADSL2+ deployment. It’s to say that this is about the long term and opinion polling, while important in many ways, is not the foundation of a policy.

    • > or that a cheap stunt is enough to expose FTTN as the non-solution in Australia that it is?

      Change that to “potentially enough”. It seems that the public needs reminding that FTTN with Telstra being a for-porfit near enough monopoly is a bad idea.

      • Also notice that in this survey that Malcolm twittered yesterday, without a further breakdown of stats, the headings of figure 7.3 and 7.5 imply that the majority of respondents were 55 and over and rural and the report’s conclusions are based around that majority. That’s where MT gets his ideas for broadband from as he admitted just again today.

        From surveys of mostly old UK country folk. Looking at a survey like that that also has an opinion poll that says that broadband everywhere is more important than faster broadband doesn’t automatically imply that FTTN is the way to go either. Renai’s non-availability of HFC nor FTTN in any reasonable timeframe or sortius’ phone line going crap just being two examples as to why not. But it doesn’t matter anyway, because as Liberal MPs are mailing out, we should upgrade highways instead of spending (even when it’s actually investing) in broadband altogether. I’m done.

    • I don’t think it’s a cheap stunt. A cheap stunt would be something instituted by Quigley for political purposes. I really think he is feed up with the crap and wan’t to take the argument away from politics and into the technical arena. I think Quigley is very passionate about building the best network he can. He came out of retirement to do it because think it is something he could think, I really achieved something. Having that laid waste and vandalised for purely political reasons would be heart breaking. I think Quigley knows the outcome, not due to bias or bad terms of reference, but because they have already examined what Turnbull is proposing in the past, and rejected it then. Since Malcolm isn’t forth coming with answering the problems with his plan, this will shine the spot light on them.

  3. I have developed the view over the last year or so that Turnbull’s opposition and posturing on the NBN is purely political. It doesn’t have any basis in research or technical opinion. His case has no good economic foundation and is at best speculative. To put it politely the policy that Turnbull is pushing is pure male cow manure.

    Until Turnbull can come out with a rationally constructed and workable Australian broadband policy sponsored by the Liberal Party I am going to say that there isn’t one; and that he and his compatriots wouldn’t know the difference between a bit and a byte.

  4. Of course Turnbull thinks it’s a bad idea to hold a third-party, independent inquiry into the best technology to use for the NBN.

    If you do that, there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll get the answers you want.
    As Sir Humphrey Appleby was fond of opining, you never hold a public inquiry unless you already know the answers it will hand down.

    As a consequence, you can be sure that any and all inquiries / reports / studies / whatevers that find that FTTP is the best long-term choice will be dismissed by the Coalition as biased / incomplete / partisan / whatever, because they don’t want Labor’s choice to go with FTTP to be validated. Ever.

    • Oh, so now because Quigley has called for it, everyone is jumping on board the “independent study” train…?

      Flying spaghetti monster save me from armchair activists and their constant backflips and hypocrisy…

      I have been calling for a CBA since FTTN (which I was broadly in favour of). Calling for transparency, proof. I’ve always said that my view on the NBN Mk II would be significantly altered once a credible third party (read: not a government puppet or a subjective organisation who stands to benefit greatly) could come back with a reasoned and supported CBA/study on best tech for cost.

      Guess what? Shouted down at every turn. ‘ We don’t need no steenking study, it’ll pay for itself, it’s obvious. STFU and GTFO naysayer.’

      Renai experienced a taste of the vitriol briefly when he dared to question the NBN on it’s reporting practices, as have other previously popular prominent IT related persons.

      I’ll be the first to say Turnbull is having his rant because a) he knows that FTTN will lose in a straight shooting match over technology (rather than cost) and b) because it’s easy yards to slam the call after so many years of Conjob obstinately refusing to even consider a transparent and well supported study on FTTP. He’d be a fool not to.

      But there are deeper questions lurking here that don’t seem to be addressed, albeit with fairly obvious answers. If Quigley is making noises about the Comms Alliance (hardly an unbiased mob since they get the benefits but don’t directly bear the risk) giving FTTP a technological green tick, it has to be because Labor’s loss is becoming inevitable at this point and he’s trying to shore up the NBN as we know it for as long as possible. It may make it more difficult by degrees to dump it if he could hold out a shiny new report saying “FTTP is you beaut mate!”. And of course FTTP will win in terms of technology, as will a single managed network over the dozens of operators under the current regime/proposed FTTN regime despite the advances that competition have brought us.

      Seriously, what’s his motivation to do the study if Labor wins? He’s already got the keys to the kingdom, Conjob won’t stop backing him or FTTP if he’s returned as comms minister, the NBN is one of the few policies that is actually popular. The NBN has come in to existence sans any sort of serious “best pick” or cba study to date. Seems odd that in mid roll out Quigley would suddenly decide “Oh crap, mebbe we should work out if we should be doing this at all?!?”

      And then we have the precious supporters who go on to MT’s site and start crapping on about where’s the Libs figures… Of course, studies and benefits and evidence are important when the other mob are putting forward their policy(whatever that might be), but not so much when it’s the plan you like? Labor should have done the due diligence back in the day, and the Libs should have it done when they roll their policy out. No one get’s out of jail free on this one, and anyone favouring one or the other by giving them a pass while attacking the other for not coughing up a study is a hypocrite…

      • But there are deeper questions lurking here that don’t seem to be addressed, albeit with fairly obvious answers. If Quigley is making noises about the Comms Alliance (hardly an unbiased mob since they get the benefits but don’t directly bear the risk) giving FTTP a technological green tick, it has to be because Labor’s loss is becoming inevitable at this point and he’s trying to shore up the NBN as we know it for as long as possible.

        Quigley is playing the long game. It would be extremely short-sighted to simply ignore the Opposition.

        It should be noted, however, and I’ll pull you up on this, Quigley does not appear to be suggesting a CBA, which really would be a bit irrelevant at this point, given the government of the day has already made a decision.

        Rather, this is a suggestion to review technical options. You wouldn’t open the door to negotiate technology if you’re trying to “shore up the NBN”. What’s the point? You’d sign every contract you could find to force the outcome.

        No, Quigley is responding under the only frame of reference he can. Technology choice. He’s not an idiot; any review is going to recommend FTTH as the better solution; FTTN as a close second if short-term expenditure is the only concern.

        We already know this because previous reports helped form the current NBN as it stands.

        Again, Turnbull is attempting to (quite successfully, it seems) shift the debate from a technical and review based discussion, to a purely political, cost driven ideology — something he’s not exactly permitted to engage in.

  5. I’d DEARLY like to have a chat with Quigley about his knowledge and understanding of an FTTN rollout. Much of we as as advocates of the NBN in general, gather as info is 3rd or 4th hand. Getting from the horses mouth (as such) when he knows so much about the current state of the actual on the ground infrastructure would be VERY enlightening.

    In terms of the CCA, I hope they do conduct the study and I believe Quigley was sincere in wanting to help allow Australians to understand what the best practical solution for long-term communications in this country is. (bad grammar) And I believe Turnbull knows they’ll be fair and so he’ll likely ignore or criticise any serious points they make against FTTN, even with research behind them.

    You’ve probably seen this from ITWire Renai, it’s quite a….well, quite a opinion piece about apparently how much Turnbull knows about broadband compared to anyone else:


    It may very well be some (most?) of the media are uninformed about the Broadband debate. But to suggest that only Malcolm Turnbull truly knows about broadband is ludicrous. Malcolm Turnbull knows alot about broadband. Malcolm Turnbull also chooses to IGNORE much of what he knows about broadband to ensure his point is believed.

    We should be asking the industry what they, with THEIR actual experience in providing services and infrastructure, believe is the best way forward for the coming decades. Quigley agrees with this. Apparently, only Malcolm Turnbull or the Opposition should have that discretion.

    • “In terms of the CCA, I hope they do conduct the study and I believe Quigley was sincere in wanting to help allow Australians to understand what the best practical solution for long-term communications in this country is. (bad grammar) And I believe Turnbull knows they’ll be fair and so he’ll likely ignore or criticise any serious points they make against FTTN, even with research behind them.”

      Nailed it. +1

    • Have you seen the nasty pathetic comments by LNP people on that article and the author STAN BEERS allows that I can’t respect that it is pathetic!

      • I was flabbergasted firstly by the article which contained zero journalism, and yes the comments that were allowed were atrocious! So much so I realized it would have been a a complete waste of time responding. Sorry Stan that was a low-point of your career…

      • Of course when the NBN zealots flood MT’s blog with “Malware Turdbullshit” or something along those lines its all good :P

        • I have never seen anyone on this site or any other stoop to the pathetic level seen there here are some quotes

          “Back to fairyland John, where Gillard is loved as Rudd’s deputy, who was never backstabbed, and then NBN is the great saviour.

          Fairy land for John! Fairy land calling for John. Planet NBN to John, are you there? John? Jooooohn? Earth to Captain Fairyland John?”

          “Kevin’s Piehole is missing pie Kevin Cobley • a day ago
          Kevin Cobley: an empty barrel. They’re the ones that make the most noise!

          Kevin’s Piehole Kevin Cobley • a day ago −
          Kevin’s pie-hole is missing a pie again.”

          “Shame on John. John • a day ago −
          John’s willingness to lie sees no bounds. Shame on you.”

          ‘TachyonRider sam_varghese • a day ago −
          Wow! Look how clever Sam is! Good one Sam! Your comment value-added to the thread no end!’

          “Nightmare Based Network htcs • 8 hours ago −
          Welcome to Kevin Rudd, Gillard and Stephen Dickroy’s world.”

          “Anthony = waste of space Anthony Wasiukiewicz • a day ago −
          Anthony = waste of space, waste of brain cells”

          Also apparently Optus homezone does not exist according to these people.

  6. Hm, I can see the Conservatives Broadband solutiion if they win the next election. A v90 56kb modem for every household. ADSL+ is only for rich people and politicians. They will rip up the NBN infrastructure and sell it off to the Chinese. Acording to Abbott and friends the NBN is the work of devils and heretics. You dont need Broad band to dig up minerals and grow crops as far as they are concerned.

    • @RonC911

      You are perfectly within your rights to believe what you like about whatever party you want. However, I don’t think anyone truly believe the conservative mindset means we’ll all end up on dial-up modems….

      By all means, criticise the Coalition for their plan. But mindlessly making assumptions based on nothing but ideology isn’t helpful to debate. I mean that in the nicest possible way. We need to make this debate intellectual, not political or irrational.

    • > They will rip up the NBN infrastructure and sell it off to the Chinese.

      The confusion of ideas that made this seem like a reasonable thing to say in your mind must be astonishing. In fact, I’m intrigued, so please elaborate if you actually have something productive to say here. But I’m not sure you do.

  7. Some one get into the audience on Q&A tomorrow night and ask some good questions of him.

    I fear he won’t get one please explain… shame Quigley or Conroy aren’t on as well. That would make for a great Q&A.

    • @andyrob

      Over on the Whirlpool thread, we’ve been discussing this. Unfortunately, Q&A is already full. However, I’ve come up with a question, with input from other Whirlpoolers, that if we all vote on, we may get it asked:


      I’m going to lodge it tonight. Probably as a video question as they’re more likely to get on. When I do, I’ll post it here and I’d like to encourage people to vote for it. It’s not a perfect question, but I’m hopeful it will stimulate actual debate with the panelists rather than rhetoric from Turnbull.

      • I will be looking for this and will definitely be voting for it. Well done Seven_tech.

      • The only problem is without the questioner there you can not hold him to account which means he will waffle for a bit say super fast broadband a couple of time and then be off.

        We need Turnbull and Conroy head to head he needs to accountable for what he says

    • “I thought Malcolm liked things that were cheap?”

      Only when it’s public money, he’s more than happy to sink a few mill of his own into “gold plating” France with a “white elephant”…

    • I wouldn’t call where he lives in Point Piper cheap.
      It doesn’t even have a public beach to sleep on.

  8. The minimum cost of Turnbull’s FTTN is 22 billion. It could cost as much as 40 Billion. He tries to fool those people that are not up to scratch with technology. The savings that can be made in health alone will pay for FTTP. With FTTN/copper, you can forget about having a new (HD) tv in the future. They just won’t work.
    Of course Turnbull doesn’t tell you that. Neither does he tell you that Telstra still owns the copper. They have not maintained it. Life span 30 years. So if you don’t get fibre, you have to replace the rotten copper.
    Coalition policy is a shambles

  9. Seven_tech, go for it and anyone else that wants to try. My fear is that none will get the air play they deserve. And Car won’t try either I suspect. That is why I wish they had arranged for Conroy or Quigley to be on and allow for some real debate.

    I wait with baited breath.

    • @andyrob

      I’ve submitted it:


      It hasn’t gone through moderation yet.

      I know there are DOZENS of things we could’ve asked and maybe these weren’t the best, but we need to try and get SOMETHING asked. When it pops up, it’ll be talking about FTTN 1/4 cost and wholesale/retail costs and HFC footprint removing NBNCo’s revenue.

      Hopefully we’ll get several other chances- Turnbull will no doubt go on at LEAST once more and hopefully they might have Quigley (although he probably isn’t really allowed to say much).

      • Hi Seven_Tech

        Can you please provide your name so that we can differentiate the NBN questions and if desired vote up. There are many questions regarding the NBN just from today’s submissions so would like to know which you particularly worte



  10. Turnbull is apparently on qanda tomorrow night – anyone going to get a video question organised?

    Oh, I see it’s already organised. Be looking out for it then…

  11. I’m sure there’s a certain irony for MT to be the opposition spokesperson – he’s a relic from the dialup era of Ozemail…

    Anyway, I suspect Quigley realises that he potentially will be answering to MT in October and is trying to soften the landing.

  12. The timing of the idea does lead me to believe its not very legitimate. If he was being honest about it, it should have happened long ago. Its a bit late to take a cookie first, then run a study on whether the cookie is what you wanted. you already ate it.
    i dont have anything against quigly, its just i dont trust most of what the govt does or its cookie jars. they dont care about cost at all. ‘we arent paying for it, so we dont care’ attitude needs to be reigned in.

    • @Guest

      its just i dont trust most of what the govt does or its cookie jars. they dont care about cost at all. ‘we arent paying for it, so we dont care’ attitude needs to be reigned in.

      I’m assuming that’s opinion, because I don’t see any basis in fact for that.

      Quigley has seen that the debate has turned poisonous and if this sort of report isn’t done NOW, Australians may very well end up with an utter mess of a communications sector for years if not decades. The politicians won’t do anything, so he’s suggested the industry itself suggest the best course of action and the politicians could (and should if they’re sensible) look at what its’ conclusions are and adopt some or most of it as policy.

      • its a well known fact that govt tenders for anything are worth more money than a private company tender for the same job. if you’ve ever worked for a company that has done it, you’d know.
        not suggesting this would happen because it cant. but for arguments sake if this was a private company building the nbn exactly the same way, i’d guarantee a few billion would be shaved off the cost. because they do care about money because its theirs. govt dont because hey well, taxpayers will pay it no matter what. its not like taxpayers get a say.

        • How about some evidence to support these well known facts. They wouldn’t be well known facts promoted by private enterprise without a scerick of evidence by any chance?

          Incidentally who do you think is doing the build work on the NBN? Private contractors incase you weren’t aware.

  13. Renai can you stop using Turnbulls name and credibility in the same sentence its just wrong.

  14. Estimated cost for upgrading to full fibre (FTTH) if it isn’t continued now. 200 billion? 300 billion? yeah the Libs know about money alright they know how to blow it in massive proportions. For the good of Australia ? you must be kidding, please crawl back to the dark cave you came from for the good of all.

  15. Did anyone else notice how you can take Malcolm’s quote and simply put the shoe on the other foot and it rings true on so many fronts …

    “Unless clear and credible answers are provided by [Malcolm Turnbull] and the Coalition to all of these questions, [Mr Turnbull’s] remarks today will be exposed for what they appear to be – a cheap stunt to distract attention from [The Coalition’s] appalling record in executing [telecommunications policy].”

  16. “Accusing one of Australia’s most respected telecommunications executives of playing politics with the $37 billion infrastructure he is in charge of … just comes across as a little silly.”

    It’s quite an act of idiocy to drive a wedge between himself and NBNCo, given he must work with them to get either the complete FTTH or a FTTN / FTTH combination built. Does Turnbull think he will pick up a few people from the dole queue when senior staff of NBNCo resign due to the toxic relationship between the company and govt? I’m sure that changing to an FTTN rollout requires a lot more thought than “plonk a pillar here then drive up the street a bit”. Where does he think hes getting the people to do that if he is alienating them?

    Of course, the plan may be to just spin it all off into the hands of private contractors. They surely want to do an excellent job for little money after all.

    • Turnbull has been overt about his plan to fire Quigley.

      Not only is Turnbull acting in an disturbingly unprofessional manner in his dealings with Quigley, he is also going to fire an extremely capable and competent CEO for no good reason.

  17. Of course Turnbull would say it’s a cheap stunt. Because he knows what that study would say: that FTTN is only a politically expedient stop-gap measure, and the FTTN build, followed by the inevitable FTTN-to-FTTP upgrade, will cost the country more than doing it right the first time with FTTP.

    • That’s just it. Turnbull has attacked the report before it has even been formally announced.

      We don’t know what it will say!

      But Turnbull has already attacked it (just in case), therefore if it said: FTTP is fine, so is FTTN Turnbull would claim it as his own, and if it said FTTN is a waste, then he could say: “See I told you it was a labour-supporter Pro-NBN Zealot – Stupid-loving dumb NBNCo report from the start.”

  18. Quigley still hasn’t learnt politics guys.

    This isn’t a stunt by Quigley, obviously the CCC (or whoever it was that advocated this research as part of “informing” the debate) wanted to do so because the debate was based off lies, and half-truths. (wireless is fine DIDO is coming etc.)

    But; Quigley still hasn’t learnt that everything you say; will always be spun politically. Everything.

    Quigley’s statement that “we should do this research so that the political debate can be informed” has now turned into: “NBN Co Policy on the run – they don’t even know what their policy is!!11!”

    There is nothing that you can do to appease the coalition. Turnbull today said the Productivity Commission is the only institution he would believe. but critically gave himself a huge escape clause. He talked about the terms of reference. Unless he pens the terms of reference himself (clearly spelling out whatever political agenda he wants to result from the investigation) then he would complain about the report.

    Even better; he’d get to complain about the COST of the productivity commission report, he’d get to stand up and say “50 billion dollars yesterday, now another 20 million dollars on a waste of paper! tomorrow another 50 billion dollars for the white elephant!!1”

    And every step of the way he would complain.

    Quigley is not allowed to talk about things. He just isn’t. The CCC should have announced the review, and at that time; indicated that NBN Co supports it and will assist by providing evidence for the report. Quigley can’t touch these things with a 50 foot pole. Indeed; the terms of reference should be as bipartisan as possible – possibly even written by Turnbull himself (if he would even bother – which he wouldn’t as he understands politics, and can’t give a single inch).

    Le sigh (I suspect over the next 5 months I am going to write that a lot.)

    • PS. Turnbull doesn’t respect Quigley. To expect him to say something respectable about the man would be to expect pigs to fly.

      He never has, and honestly his demeanor when it comes to anything Quigley-related should have been enough for you to realise how much of a dirt raking con-artist Turnbull is.

      I used to like the man, may have even voted for him if he was the leader of the opposition. I honestly used to say things like: “The coalition would be better with him at the helm”. But after his hypocritical “we should be better than we are” speech, he is actually descending into the depths of my disdain.

      At-least Abbott never pretended to be likable.

  19. Whatever happened wbout the promised meeting between Turnbull and Quigley? Quigley was up for it. Turnbull reneged. It shows that Turnbull has had it in for Quigley for a long time (especially highlighted by Turnbulls baseless bribe defamation of Quigley). Turnbulls latest attack on Quigley in sadly not surprising in that light.Quigley will be out of a job if Turnbull gets in.
    Shame Quigley cant be Comms minister – he gets it and is a nice guy on top.

    • You only have to see how Turnbull behaved in the joint NBN parliamentary committee about mid-2012 in regards to Quigley and the orbital slot(s) required for the two NBN satellites.

      Complete disrespect. Complete lack of understanding of what he was arguing, and just plain disingenuous to boot.

  20. There’s a very good reason why Oppositions should not dump on public servants, and it has only a little to do with the fact that they will have to work with them when in power.

    Politicians should not use their position to personally attack people that they well know are forbidden by public service regulations from responding in kind. Anyone who abuses that situation may appear to have little knowledge, or concern, for ethical behaviour, particularly if they are also known for sanctimoniously preaching about the need for high standards in public life.

    • Almost all the current crop of politicians are a joke compared to those that founded their respective parties…

  21. Quigley is doing something fairly important here; he’s showing a degree of flexibility in approach, and a preparedness to consider alternative options, should they be required.

    It’s also not, in my opinion, directed at Turnbull. Although it’s pretty evident Quigley is attempting to steer clear of politics; in what has become a highly politicised portfolio outcome.

    I beleive it’s directed at Abbott. It’s a clear message — “talk to us, we can work on options; go get an independent report if that makes you more comfortable, we’re ready to talk”.

    If you compare this with Telstra’s typical negotiation technique, it makes NBNco look like a choir-boy by comparison. NBNco are attempting to stay as bipartisan as is possible.

    Of course, FTTN, HFC are viable alternative technologies; they both in use. We know they work. If you chose to deploy FTTN first, then FTTH second, you can split costs over a longer period, so from that standpoint there is potential (the kicker is that the final cost is always going to be greater).

    The problem, really, isn’t the platform or technology; all work, all are tried and tested.

    It’s expenditure and ideology. The Coalition has turned fast broadband into a political debate over cost. Abbott’s ridiculous mandate to “destroy the NBN” has caused as much havoc in MSM, as it has in political circles.

    It’s no longer a healthy debate over technology and the best course of action. It’s a putative argument over costs. Right down to frankly ridiculous demands the NBNco waste time, money and cease activities, all because the Opposition want to re-write the context of care-taker provisions.

    No, Mr Turnbull I respectfully ask you to provide a policy to define your alternative roadmap, and a commitment to see it through. When you can stop (frankly) b*itching from the sidelines and can bring a cohesive policy to the table, I’m prepared to consider listening.

    Until then, it’s all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  22. Seriously Malcolm, lift your game, your tactics are actually starting to disgust me, especially when you try to gag the telecommunications industry body from having a say. Their input is highly relevant, and labelling a possible study from them as “a stunt” is ridiculous.

    Let the market make the call, not politicians…

  23. I take the personal position that Malcolm is taking words Quigley says and twisting them to his own agenda. I actually take it to the point that Malcolm is lying. Quigley is not the one writing policy – that was done in parliament and laws written to facilitate that policy. Nbnco’s task is enactment of that policy. But given all the political ruckus about the nbn Quigley spoke to the CCA – who also don’t write federal policy though they do lobby for policy affecting their members – suggesting research to clear the air. I reject Malcolms accusations of policy on the run as being false.

    Any actual review by an industry group, says absolutely nothing policy wise until the govt of the day takes action on it. The comms alliance is made up of people who – caveat, should- understand the technical and engineering underpinnings of any replacement to the POT network. They may not be able to enumerate economic benefits to the economy as a whole but I feel that is secondary – certainly by Malcolm’s lights they are, he has been almost laser like in focus on the cost of the network, (but not so focused that he can use the correct figure!) I certainly have not seen Malcolm making nearly as much of the national economy knock ons, tho he has touched on them.

    So a review purely on the cost of the network itself and what it will take to get it or a fttn alternative off the ground is fine by me. If there really is no substantial cost difference between the two – as I expect will be the finding – then pursuing knock on benefits of a ‘cheaper, faster’ network that isn’t, by use of a CBA, won’t be worth the bothering with. And I agree with commentary that this is really the root of Malcoms objection – that he wants to have his alternative presented in the best of light and the suggested forum likely won’t do that.

    The two quoted comments from his own site are rather pertinent. He needs to offer terms of reference, and he needs to offer a sanity check on his policy. Otherwise – if he refuses – his behaviour is no different than what he is accusing the govt of doing.

    • As you’ve pointed out – policy was set by the government of the day – NBNco’s mandate is to action that policy. NBNco have indicated they would work with the Coalition, should it come to that.

      Turnbull is effectively punching someone who can’t punch back.

      I do believe though, that as the election nears and (if as predicted) a far larger number of connections occur, the profile of the NBN will actually rise, as more people become aware of it. I’m sure that is in the back of the Member for Wentworth’s mind.

      He can get more traction now, than he will near the election. So he’s on the attack.

      The irony is, Turnbull tilting at Quigley’s suggestion of review, exposes that the Coalition has no intention of doing so themselves, or abiding by any recommendations set forth. That’s an admission that may come back to haunt them.

  24. Thankyou Mr Turnbull for giving the very industry you are trying to foster a relationship with and encourage further competition, the middle finger.
    It speaks volumes about your character and your intentions for this country and its future.

    Frankly, before this day, if you had taken over as leader of the LNP, I had considered the possibility of voting for you.
    Now… I won’t, and I shall encourange anyone else with an open mind to not vote for either you, or your party.

  25. Quigley knows what the study will reveal. Turnbull also knows the outcome of the study and knows it will not back his or the organ grinder’s position. Is it any wonder he tries to bag Quigley’s suggestion: the findings won’t suit him.

    You are being too charitable to suggest otherwise.

  26. “… And Labor’s NBN plodded onward, consuming vast amounts of taxpayers’ cash…”
    I could go through MT’s statement dismantling just about every sentence (the 50b$ one really irks me), but this is the one that stood out to me as being the most flagrantly dishonest lie. Facts not your strong suit Mr Turnbull?

    You know what I do when liers open their mouths? Ignore them, because if you can’t trust a word that comes out of someone’s mouth nothing they say has any value. That has become the definition of Malcom Turnbull – of absolutely no value or benefit whatsoever.

  27. “You know what I do when liers open their mouths? Ignore them,”

    Nahhhhh you should do what i do and keep a record so that at the next election you can decide who you are going to put last and second last.and then broadcast as widely as possible what you are doing and why. At the moment the Coalition are marginally in front of claiming last place but there isn’t much in it.

    Stuffed if I know who I will vote for come 14 September.

  28. My interpretation is that Mal’s running scared. For all his ineptitude, I suspect he knows that the policy he’s spruiking is a complete turd. The last thing he wants is for an independent study to confirm that the Coalition’s policy is a complete turd. While he does have a point that this study should have been carried out already, Turnbull is terrified of having his ideas being torn to pieces (as they rightfully should) in the lead up to an election.

    I really hope this study goes ahead, and that it puts the NBN nay-sayers in their bloody place. Then we can consider this debate finished and get down to the business of building a proper 21st century telecommunications infrastructure.

    • Indeed.

      Not that I expect the LNP to change their minds about it no matter what it says, there’s too much political capital been spent by them on their negativity campaign to do an about (Abbott?!) face on FTTP now.

      I’m not even sure they’ll bother with actually doing anything about a FTTN NBN to be honest, more than half the things they ARE promising wont come to pass, Johns “that wasn’t a core election promise” lives on with Tony “blood oath” Abbott…

  29. Mr Turnbull is currently in a position where he very definitely does not want anyone to seriously look at the costs and benefits of networking Australia. He knows it, and anyone who knows better than to read Murdoch and Fairfax rags knows it.

    The cost of FTTN will not be enormously less than the cost of FTTH. Once that becomes known, then the wisdom of promoting a half-arsed solution will be questioned – especially when you’ve said up-front that you know it needs upgrading in the future. And Malcolm is bright enough not to want to look like a bloody idiot.

    But he’s stuck.

  30. One of the posters above says the proposed enquiry is an attempt by Quigley to take the debate on what is the best technology out of the political arena and have it settled once and for all by the technologists.

    And that’s the whole trouble with it. You lot can’t see that there can and should be other criteria against which a national broadband network should be judged other than what the technologically best solution is. That’s what technologists are convinced of, that Australia should get the technologically best national broadband network. And it is exactly that that shows that they are too narrowly focussed on what’s important to them to be be able to make good decisions in the overall best public interests.

    Its the trouble with all experts. They all think that whatever it is they’ve spent their life on is the most important thing in the world. Whatever’s closest to you looks bigger than it really is. But all it shows is their distorted perspective. Doctors think huge amounts should be spent on hospitals. Lawyers think new laws will solve every problem. Police think more police are absolutely vital. Teachers more education. Computer geeks think every problem can be solved with a computer. The rest of the world just doesn’t see it, whatever it is, to be that important.

    I have worked on some really b-i-g projects. And the biggest cause of them crashing and burning I saw was experts who took the attitude that their job was to provide the “best” (as they measured it) solution, and the money was someone else’s problem. Its a problem that’s pervasive in the IT “enterprise” area. And that’s where Quigley and the whole lot of them running NBNCo come from. They simply have the wrong perspective to be in charge of building what is essentially a consumer product.

    • You lot can’t see that there can and should be other criteria against which a national broadband network should be judged other than what the technologically best solution is.

      Your comment is invalid.

      Let me elaborate:

      1) The NBN is not the technological best solution, it is actually a compromise. It provides artificial limitations to CVC in order to maximise profit. It uses an inferior form of technology in order to save costs (GPON vs PtP) as well as last generation, with the exception of LTE, technology (GPON vs XGPON). It even only rolls out FTTP to 93% of the population.

      2) The NBN is being built on a fundamental premise that it can make a ROI but a common agreement in providing NBN circles is that although it might, it shouldn’t because it puts to many limits on the commercial applications (in other words a partial subsidy is suggested or the flaws, like speed tiers, are highlighted).

      3) There are no viable alternatives on the table. The NBN might be a waste in a few minor areas but the alternative proposed by Turnbull has no real support from the industry, and the primary objection is not technical, it’s economic. We don’t believe his alternative can be implemented cheaper in terms of costs to taxpayers and end user subscription costs.

      • Point three: particularly this.

        I would also say my point wasn’t just about technologists but people with experience in building and managing networks, who know how much it costs for these things. The copper maintenance, which will still be needed albeit for the last hundreds of metres rather than all the way to exchange, is to my mind a big one. The number of cabinets required to service the public on anything approaching an equivalent basis, how long it will take to pay off each cabinet – its a modification of the current arrangements for dslams after all.

        the power requirements and practicalities of hooking into both the comms net and power distribution nets at one site – there’s a fair likelihood that many sites suitable for the comms box involve lots of work – read labour, read money – to hook it into the power network as well. There’s contractual stuff and so on and so forth.

        Given there are at least three nations who started with fttn and found it impractical and have moved to a ftth rollout I would hope if we wind up with fttn its practicalities for our situation are looked at very carefully first rather than just bulling into ‘we’re doing this, because its not the other policy’. So far it has been all just that.

    • So your argument that the best solution isn’t always the best technological solution?

      Gordon; I agree. But I would like your opinion on FTTN, (the only other option on the table).
      What is your understanding of the cost to upgrade this? (What monetary figure do you base your support on this policy on – and how did you come up with it)*

      What is your understanding of the capacity of FTTN, and what precisely do you think will be the minimum / Average / maximum outcome of an FTTN install. (all 3 would be nice)

      Finally, how long do you think it will take to roll out. (obviously; I am asking what time-frame your belief in the policy is predicated on.).

      All of the questions above; I would like to know. I support the NBNCo fibre plan because of the following: [this includes actual numbers, and metrics that aren’t what I expect it to cost, how I expect it to perform necesarily, but the minimum baselines I expect it to provide, sort of like worst-case].

      1) I believe it will cost in the order of 40 billion dollars. It is a lot, but I have looked at the corporate plan and the take up rates, and believe them to be achievable. As a result of the projected takeup rates effectively resulting in the network paying for itself, I do not believe it will be an undue burden on our government financially.

      2) I believe the NBN Co plan will provide 100 megabits to 93% of the population. And have a clear understanding that it can be easily increased to 1000 megabits to that same 93%. For the other %’ages I have experience with LTE and in the situation it is being deployed am confident that a minimum download rate of 25 megabits is achievable.

      3) The timescale of deployment for the NBN Co is not a huge concern for me. If it cost the same amount, but took 20 years to deploy I would be dissappointed, certainly, but confident that current ADSL2+ would be capable of supporting the demand in the interim period. It is my belief that full deployment of the NBN Co fibre will take 10 years from now, or sooner. (10 years is obviously a time-overrun, it is a time-frame that I base my support of the policy on however, not necesarily what I believe to be the case).

      The 3 same points that show why I do not support the coalition solution.

      1) The cost is ill defined. If we ran a full FTTN network the costings provided by a Telstra deployment of 5 billiion dollars (8 years ago) are attractive, however that price was predicated on a removal of the network wholesale requirement. [As I understood it]. A GBE based FTTN solution would require direct compensation to Telstra for the purchase not just of customers, but of the copper itself.. As such, the estimates of a network costing 16 billion dollars do not seem out of order. [in fact actually seem to be underquoting].
      The coalition also appears to be against GBE’s in general, which leaves only subsidies as the method for obtaining this upgrade. Subsidies do not [in my opinion] provide value for money in the telecommunications sector. Upgrading the HFC network is not a cost effective solution.

      2) My understanding of the technology behind FTTN (which I rate as very good) indicates that the projected speeds provided by the system will vary from 12 megabits, to 80 megabits. All depending on network topology and total build cost will be directly related. If the cost to build the network is 5 billion dollars, I would expect the average to be closer to 20 megabits. If on the othe rhand the network cost is closer to 25 billion dollars, I would not be surprised to see a network average of 50 to 60 megabits.
      I do not expect a copper technology to achieve communication rates above 150 megabits. (at any reasonable line length).

      3) Finally, despite all assurances from Malcolm Turnbull, I do not expect the FTTN network to begin construction for a minimum of 24 months after the Coalition is elected. Given that estimates for build duration for an FTTN network are between 2 and 5 years, that puts the total construction time [that I base my support of the NBN upon] at between 4 and 7 years.

      So Gordon, can you boil down your numbers for me? What cost FTTP would you support? Why do you [implicitly or otherwise] support the coalition position? (I say this because you don’t offer any constructive criticism for the NBN Co network) What precisely about the coalition plan makes it a better fit for our future?

      Le sigh. Who am I kidding to expect answers to any of this, but it would genuinely be nice to see your response. It will put into perspective your position on the NBN.

      • As an addendum to this I would like to add:

        If the Coalition were to support a policy of no change (ie no FTTN, no FTTP, no wasting money on interim solutions) I would be less opposed to a coalition government.

        Right now, I see us spending a lot of money for a net gain. (cost minus benefit for FTTP is overall positive).
        The Coalition alternative is us spending a lot of money for a net loss. (cost minus benefit is negative in an FTTN network from my perspective).

        I would actually believe the coalition that their option would be cheaper. Right now; I see the coalition alternative as entirely negative. ADSL2+ will provide us the speeds we *require* for the duration that the FTTN network would be in operation (indeed it only provides ADSL2+ speeds for what I predict will be most of its users – ESPECIALLY in a coalition “cheaper is better” network design).

        I just don’t see FTTN as worth any money. (let alone some).

        PS. Sorry about the length of the previous comment Renai.

    • Gordon
      With respect that is the entire point.
      “They simply have the wrong perspective to be in charge of building what is essentially a consumer product.”

      Is our road network a consumer product, even if much of it’s use and value may well be to the consumer.

      The NBN is UBIQUITOUS ESSENTIAL National INFRASTRUCTURE/UTILITY and as such certainly there will be a substantial consumer usage, in fact that element will help pay for it.

      It is not a commodity which is what traverses the NBN and you can choose your commodity

      I agree very few can gain value AT THIS TIME for a 100Mb service within the consumer ranks even though consumer cost wise a improvement on the highly variable ADSL and Cable. That is why tiers, buy what suits your needs. However by the time it is completed that will be a different scenario.

      To build on demand or partially would be impractical and at huge cost overall and to wait untill that level of demand is present , then take 10 years to build past the point of being needed is rather foolish don’t you think?

    • I don’t think anyone meant “political arena” in a good way. Not a way of devising the best policy.

      The political arena I think refered to the one upmanship and BS spewed by both sides, trying to undermine everything the other is doing. That sort of thing has no place in deciding good policy.

  31. I may well be wrong but I would believe that Both Quigley and Turnbull would have been aware of the impending French announcement. After all France is already partly FTTP and was rolling out FTTN, now completely discarding FTTN and Copper, and what is MT’s option for Australia, advanced Nations discards

    That is why the nvitriolic hissy fit from Turnbull

    • I would call anything Turnbull does ATM as an expensive stunt as there is a very real risk it will end up costing the country 100s of millions and maybe billions in unrecoverable cost, which is what happens when you cancel a project after all the design and testing has been done and the potential 10s, 100s or 1000s of billions of dollars of lost growth.

      • I’d even go as far as saying Malcolm is actually being irresponsible considering the position he might hold if the Liberals become the next government.

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