Ten’s The Project whacks Turnbull with ABC article


blog If you believe the criticism of ABC Technology + Games Editor Nick Ross’ recent NBN opus, The vast differences between the NBN and the Coalition’s alternative, the piece is inherently flawed and represents an inherently biased look at the differences between Labor’s current fibre to the premise NBN plan and the Coalition’s more moderate fibre to the node vision. However, there’s no doubt that the article is already having a wider impact than some might have expected.

Malcolm Turnbull was a guest on Ten’s The Project television show last night, and it appeared to be clear that the entire panel had been briefed with Ross’s article, peppering Turnbull directly with questions about it. You can watch the entire clip here (you’ll have to wait for some ads to play and navigate through the sidebar on the right). The show directly referenced the NBN’s enduring popularity with the electorate, flashed Ross’s article on screen, and opened with this quote from Turnbull (which was included in Ross’s article):

“There is no evidence whatsoever that the massive increase in speeds delivered by fibre-the-home will deliver any extra value or benefit to Australian households.”

Carrie Bickmore’s opening question to Turnbull was as follows:

“Malcolm you’re the opposition spokesman for Communications. I know you say this plan is going to be cheaper and quicker, but we’re not going to see the benefits to health, we’re not going to see the benefits to emergency management or government services. Is this going to be …?”

Follow-up questions from comedian Dave Hughes asked Turnbull what kind of broadband he would prefer at his residence (Turnbull currently uses Telstra’s 100Mbps HFC cable), and another panellist brought up another aspect of Ross’s article — the fact that New York has started to replace its copper network with fibre following its recent floods. “Our country is inundated with floods as well. The copper’s 30 years old, its life expectancy’s not much more than 30 years, are there viability issues with it?” they asked.

“You’re a classy guy, and you’re a really great salesman, but aren’t you really stuck with a bit of a dud policy here from Tony Abbott?” added Charlie Pickering.

Turnbull gave what has come to be his series of pretty stock answers to the questions, but to be honest I don’t feel that he acquitted himself very well. The Project is famed as the home of Generation Y on Channel 10, and I feel that the panellists really weren’t that interested in Turnbull’s answers, but saw them as kind of political schtick from a middle-aged politician. If there’s anything which Generation Y is strongly interested in, after all, it’s ubiquitous fast broadband.

I think this segment really indicates that Ross’s article, while widely panned by technology journalists and Turnbull himself, has hit a chord with the wider community. It’s hard to escape the fundamental truth about the current NBN debate that fibre to the premise solutions are inherently technically better than fibre to the node solutions, and my estimate is that most Australians are confident enough of the NBN’s finances not to worry too much about the cost. They just want the job done once, and done right. And that blowback is starting to hit Turnbull hard, even in the mainstream media.

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. I thought the segment was extremely lightweight, even considering it is just The Project. I would have thought Pickering is more aware of the issue than he came across as, and he usually doesn’t shy from giving a conversative polly a light bashing on issues he cares about (again, within the context of The Project). And then the whole thing disintegrated further into the ‘Carrie has a crush on Malcolm’ farce… *AWKWARD*.

    • True, much of the segment was light, but it did start off quite hard on the Coalition’s NBN policy. Plus, when is The Project ever not light?

    • I thought that the Project did a really good job. In about six minutes they were able to discuss whether copper was reliable during floods, whether Turnbull would personally use fibre at home, and there was some mention about the the lifetime of a copper network. Debate about infrastructure is often esoteric but the Project was able to make the topic accessible to their target audience.

  2. Selective quoting here: “you’re a really great salesman, but aren’t you really suck”

    Kind of sums it up quite nicely :p

  3. ” It’s hard to escape the fundamental truth about the current NBN debate that fibre to the premise solutions are inherently technically better than fibre to the node solutions, “

    Now that’s what I call hitting the nail on the head!’

    PS, describing G Lynch and K Morgan as “Journalists” is a bit of a stretch isnt it?

    • There are 2 fundamental truths that need to be better communicated

      1. FTTH is the best technology in the world and vastly superior to FTTN -our future generations and this country should strive to have the best. Anything else would be second rate.

      2. It will not cost Australia money to build – Its a capital investment that will be fully paid for and more, therefore no money is used at the expense of roads, hospitals etc, therefore why should be build a cheaper second rate system.

  4. “I feel that the panellists really weren’t that interested in Turnbull’s answers, but saw them as kind of political schtick from a middle-aged politician.”

    Yep. A politician/businessman who doesn’t know as much as he implies (vectoring a solution?) and more importantly, a politician who wants to win an election. He is relying on spin to make his case rather than on facts. And as Renai has noted previously, he is becoming increasingly divorced from those facts. The political animal is in full flight. (Or should that be ‘in full BS mode’?)

    • “(Or should that be ‘in full BS mode’?)”
      Tell me about it, and I use to respect that man… Lost all respect for him now.

      • Malcolm has lost a lot of respect amongst technical people I know. Previously he would have been a vote winner as the potential Liberal leader, now most just think he is a liar like the rest of them. And I think the same now.

  5. The commentary was a little light weight from the panel, but then again I’ve never had any respect for the “talent” of Dave Hughes.

    Favourite comment from MT was “I want fast broadband, just done in a different way” it’s a pity that the panel didn’t ask if it was irrefutably technically as good as the current NBN. MT’s deflections to answering would have been comical.

  6. MT: “I want fast broadband, just done in a different way”
    TP: “Mr Turnbull, can you please explain why you want to do it differently, what is your rationale for that?”
    MT: “Because of the massive waste, because what we have here is a government intent on wasting tens of billions of taxpayer dollars for a gold plated technology that will take far to long to be actually usable by the Australian people”.
    TP: “But Isn’t

  7. Too bad it’s the older Baby Boomer gen that are more open to Liberal policy and usually vote more than us younger Y/X Gen =P

    Projects pretty much just preaching to the converted most of the time.

    Yes I am working off stereotypes =P

    • Assume HFC is more likely to be available (but not necessarily used) in Liberal seats How is Malcolm’s policy to “de-prioritise” the NBN in HFC areas going to go down with Liberal voters?
      I plan on reminding my local member. Except I want to nag him about something else first.

    • Hmph, I resemble that remark. OK, I was born in 1964, the last of the baby boomers, but I started building computers at 12. Damn Gen Y/Xs have had it so easy, they may use computers but never had to construct them from descrete components and most wouldn’t have a clue of the underlying hardware ;P

      • @NBNAccuracy

        Hey! I resent that. I’m a Gen Y and I’ve built ALL my computers.

        In fact, I just finished one for my family and now am looking at the challenge of a completely passively cooled Media Centre. Which is actually more difficult because no one makes passive coolers anymore….

        The old idea of DIY in computers is disappearing. With Intel now looking to soldering CPUs even in desktops, soon I’ll be a dinosaur too ;)….and not even in my 30’s!

        • Yes, you put together the components, right? Did you design and build you own adder and execution unit? Make your own ROM with a diode array? Did you solder in sockets for about 50 ICs to make your own VDU? That’s what I am talking about when I mean low level hardware. Now you buy a CPU and plug it into a socket, plug in some RAM, video card, etc. You don’t need to know exactly how the guts work to make one.
          It doesn’t matter really. But when you do have to do that you can get down to the really low level and understand the hardware. Great for optimisation to understand how the caches work, how RAM bank select and data locality effects performance. I still read white pages on all the hardware. I’d hate to think of the learning curve need to get into how the guts work now days with all the back ground. Everything is so insulated now by the OS and drivers.

        • BTW, the Scythe Ninja is a pretty good passive heatsink. I am not sure if you could fit it into a media case but I’ve used one years ago to cool a side mounted P4 and those things got hot.

        • don’t worry seventech – 20 year olds don’t care if you are 30 or 40 – you are still old to them. Don’t even get me started on teenagers.

          • I understand that! My 15yo calls me old with a capital “O” yet strangely his grandfather isn’t! go figure?

      • I build my computer from components, does individual hardware count to what you are talking about like graphics card etc? Or did you do all your own soldering of the transisters? :P

    • ‘Yes I am working off stereotypes =P’

      Well get your head out of your hipster, entitled, self absobed arse and harden up punk…

      Yes, so am I…

    • Not all baby boomers or older will be voting Liars, and you’d be surprised how many would love ftth.

      However, I think what Liars voters don’t get is that while they may not want all the benefits and goodies that come with NBN, their wishes are largely irrelevant, because NBN is about our future needs.

      The main beneficiaries of NBN will be gen y and beyond and they want reliable high speed internet. And yes, they do want to download movies in a flash and all sorts of stuff whiny boomers can’t get their heads around.

      And I say, so what? Why is that such a bad thing? It doesn’t mean it won’t be used for “worthy” things like education etc, but the “worthy” argument is specious and barren.

      It’s like saying you mustn’t use your phone in a social context.

      Turnbull’s arguments against NBN are shallow, self serving, unconvincing and plain old spin. He’s prepared to gyp the country, not because he believes what dribbles from his mouth, but to spite the government.

      Sorry, Mr Turnbull, the country’s interests cone before your and Liealot’s political ambitions.

  8. Why the hell won’t somebody freaking ask him on national television, how much freaking “faster” and how much freaking “cheaper” he can do it for. He keeps telling everyone he can do it faster and cheaper but no one ever asks by how much. The mainstream media in this country is a freaking joke but the bigger problem is the millions of muppets in this country that just blindy believe whatever crap is reported by these clowns. It makes me angry that people make their mind up about this stuff based purely on the crap they read in the papers.

    • The other thing some of us want to know is how much of the installed copper is VDSL capable?

    • I agree with you Nick. Turnbull got off lightly with those questions because there was no follow up to his lame answers.

      No one ever seems to ask him how much quicker his plan will be to complete. All I have ever seen is an email reply by Simon Birmingham that was quoted by a poster on Whirlpool claiming that the Coalition will complete its rollout of the NBN by the end of the next parliamentary term i.e. the end of 2016. I find that timeframe to be unbelievable and would like to see it challenged, yet I’ve never seen Turnbull give any commitment on a timeframe for it (apart from saying it will take a quarter of the time to build compared with FTTH, and that is presumably starting from some unspecified date in the future that is yet to be chosen by Abbott/Turnbull). Why doesn’t he get asked this basic question everytime he spruiks the “faster” promise??

      I also can’t stand it when Turnbull keeps mentioning Telstra’s HFC network as a viable solution when he knows it:

      a) is not currently available for wholesale to other ISPs and that Telstra charges a premium for it, even when compared with their own NBN fibre plans;

      b) will not handle the volume of users who currently choose to be connected through ADSL because of the HFC premium price tag;

      c) has limited upload speeds that will affect what it can be used for;

      d) cannot be connected to multiple dwelling units.

      I would also like to see him deliver “more affordable to the consumer” plans over HFC than what is currently being offered with NBN fibre. He can start by convincing Telstra to lower their prices so that we can all see what their reaction to that will be.

      • It is impossible for Turnbull to publish a time frame as he doesn’t know if Telstra wants to extend the life of the shortened copper link in a partial FTTN rollout scenario yet.

        • No, he could do as NBNCo did and have a plan A and plan B, which changed depending upon the differing Telstra scenarios…

          All you have done is highlighted yet another gaping chasm in Mal’s Fttn plan and another avenue for further hold-ups, which belies Mal’s faster claim.

      • I have letters from Simon Birmingham and Andrew Southcott saying that Australians will have “fast affordable broadband as soon as possible. That means in the next term of Parliament, not a decade from now.”

        • Just goes to show how ignorant the LNP are, the Telstra negotiations for the lease/purchase of the copper PSTN will take at least 1-2 years alone, including sign off by the accc, and they’ll need to pay Telstra at least another 10billion, for a total of 20billion, before a single Node is installed.

          Frankly the entire policy is a pathetic work of fiction!!!

  9. “When the public says they want the NBN, what they really want is fast broadband”

    What we really want is RELIABLE broadband that actually WORKS when we want it to…

    My internet drops out several times a day due to water ingress and also RFI, both things that the noalitions policy wont fix and Labours will. I don’t give a crap WHO builds the NBN as long as it’s done properly without cutting corners and uses primarily fibre…

    But with the way Malcolm can’t open his mouth lately without spouting a constant stream of complete lies that have been repeatedly refuted by actual hard FACTS, he’s not doing his party any favours. In fact with the way that the Lib’s reputation has been dragged through the dirt by anyone remotely involved with technology because of him, Abott is probably best just giving him the sack real quick before he does any more damage…

    • We want to be able to run a small business from home without purchasing ISP `business packages` for an arm and a leg worth, or put up with slow ADSL speeds that I can barely run my remote software on. :(

  10. Video shows Tony Abbott spruiking is own book during a meeting with constituents?
    Isn’t there some law against politicians making money from their position?

  11. I liked this: “Malcolm you’re the opposition spokesman for Communications”. None of this “Shadow Minister” stuff that is often used. Although we all know what is meant by the term, no person in an Opposition is a Shadow Minister. It’s a term someone thought up many years ago but it implies an authority and credibility that they don’t own.

  12. “When the public says they want the NBN, what they really want is fast broadband”

    No, they want fast, cheap, reliable and LONG LASTING fast broadband. The NBN gives all of that as a byproduct of replacing our communications system, converting it from a TELEcommunications system to a DATA communications system. That’s why it should’ve been called the NCN. But people wouldn’t understand that.

    The NBN ISN’T just about broadband. It’s about data connectivity for the coming decades. The Coalition would simply like people to have “a few extra megabitzes” and be happy so they don’t have to spend any money. They don’t see or care about the digital economy. They don’t think its’ particularly important and if it is, private enterprise will do it so they don’t have to worry about it.

    • “The NBN ISN’T just about broadband. It’s about data connectivity for the coming decades.”

      Exactly. This is why I laugh every time I hear the “faster and cheaper” line from Turnbull. He implies people need faster speeds sooner. Then what? In 10 years we’ll be asking the same question and have to go through the same crap all over again. The proper NBN plan ensures we don’t needlessly waste time and money with these stop gap solutions.

      • Thats right, If your’e going to do it right then do it right the first time!

    • Malcolm don’t tell me and the other voters what they really want
      Dictatorial attitudes leave me cold

        • I think herein lies the stark difference in psyche, between those who support and those who oppose the NBN alain…

          We who support simply want the best outcome for all Aussies in relation to our comms network. Whereas those who oppose are fixated on Sept 14, with fingers and toes crossed, praying for a favourable election result… and nothing else :(

  13. I’ve sent a really long email to Turnbull – I’m not expecting a good reply or at all.

  14. TURNBULL is an idiot, pointless him spruking off about best delivery method posible, Reality is FTTN might quicker to deploy though by no means does it make it a cheaper option given the fact you would have to more nodes to cover the shortfall of xdsl tech as you would uf you were to HFC as a footprint option..

    though build cost doesn’t foot the bill for maintenance cost for how ever long you wish to pushing the FTTN bandwagon for…

    though the 20/20 hindsight plays the part stating the obvious that FTTN option is a huge white elephant and at some stage you will need to gut the copper anyway and postpone the inevitable, to the point that you have grossly underestimated the node coverage distance which is more than the mile than that IDIOT Turnball REALIZES..

    And TURNBULL THE IDIOT hasn’t got a clue that the less bandwidth you have the more the service is going to cost to the end user and you endup causing a shit storm of higher speed and using a low quota service plan..

    and looking at budget xdsl plans currently reflected by both telstra and optus are in their own little world where the competition is blowing them out the water hand over fist, ftth cost would be no better than xdsl…

  15. I’m sorry I must have missed all that Tech Journo opposition to the Nick Ross Article. I thought it went through all the relevant issues with intelligent factual arguments to back up each claim. Can someone please link me the mentioned critiques?

      • Well I don’t consider him a tech journalist. I had read that article, but he actually didn’t have any arguments, just opinions and assertions.

        • Sadly, for many people out there, those opinions and assertions are taken as factual arguments… Which is one of the main reasons this project degenerates into a slanging match so easily. The he said/she said debate often has opinion on one side of the argument, which doesnt recognise the real facts of the situation.

    • My blog covers Nick’s thoughts on telehealth at great length (although ianaj ).


  16. “Benefits for health”.


    This is the reason I think it’s important that Nick’s article actually be correct (shocking, I know) – because it gets repeated and suddenly becomes received wisdom.

  17. We should make law that if winning party lies about policy like NBN having it properly costed and tabled not just saying cheaper they should forgo the election and all winning sits are forfeited to runner up

  18. “And TURNBULL THE IDIOT hasn’t got a clue that the less bandwidth you have the more the service is going to cost to the end user and you endup causing a shit storm of higher speed and using a low quota service plan..”

    That’s because he doesn’t give a toss. He’s a millionaire; money’s no object.

  19. Tried to watch the video of the Project, but couldn’t be bothered as it was buffering to much and what I did see they were more worried about the crush that lady had on Turnbull I presume as again, it was buffering and I got bored.. Suppose I made the mistake of expecting “7:30” like questions LOL.. did I mention that the video was buffering to much….. oh for the NBN.. and not Turnbulls waste of time that would keep my “serviceable” 5000m length of copper still in place to the exchange…

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