news One of Malcolm Turnbull’s senior staffers has sent a popular Australian technology blogger a caustic email telling him to “get fucked” and informing him that “nobody takes your psychotic rantings seriously”, as the relationship between Turnbull and sections of Australia’s technology community continues to sour.
The blogger concerned, Steve Jenkin, runs a popular local blog entitled ‘Stevej on NBN’. Jenkin, who is a long-time IT professional, is well-known for his regular articles severely criticising the Coalition’s National Broadband Network policy and praising Labor’s policy. Recent headlines on his site have labelled the Coalition’s fibre to the node-based policy a “financial disaster” which will lose the Federal Government “billions”, for example, and Jenkin has also attempted to fact-check a number of key Coalition assertions.
Although Jenkin has taken a broadly partisan approach in his work, his blog is read by some elements of Australia’s technology community. Jenkin has also engaged directly with technology journalists in an effort to get his ideas publicised more widely, and has succeeded in having his articles published on some media outlets, such as Technology Spectator. In addition, Jenkin has also engaged with Turnbull’s office directly, in an attempt to obtain more information about the Coalition’s NBN policy.
Jenkin published one of those interactions on his blog yesterday, consisting of an email exchange between the blogger and Stephen Ellis, a policy advisor who works directly for Turnbull and is believed to have directly responsible for helping to develop the Coalition’s NBN policy, as well as the background briefing document which was released alongside the policy in March. Ellis has an extensive background in both journalism and technology; details of which can be found online.
In his blog post, Jenkin noted that he was seeking detailed information from Ellis with regard to the figures which went in to the Coalition’s NBN policy, especially associated with the Coalition’s projected wholesale costs associated with its future NBN vision. “I wrote to a senior Turnbull staffer, asking a reasonable commercial question that [retail ISPs] should know before the election, so they might review their business plans and start contingency planning,” wrote Jenkin.
In response, Ellis severely rejected Jenkin’ email and attacked him personally, according to the email published on Jenkin’ site. “I mark your emails ‘junk’ (like your copy) so didn’t see your note until [Communications Day publisher Grahame Lynch] replied,” wrote Ellis.
“Nobody challenges your numbers because nobody takes your psychotic rantings seriously. Nobody. Nevertheless they are all wrong. All of them – you don’t have a clue about the existing deal, much less how it might be modified. Given what you write is a delusional fantasy that exists only in your own mind, you can get fucked.”
“Since the NBN stands to be greatly modified under whoever wins, your serial lies and distortions will be exposed in due course. In the meantime do not contact me again. Have a nice life.”
Ellis — who declined to comment on the issue when contacted by Delimiter — was not the only critic of Jenkin in the email train. Grahame Lynch, the publisher of telecommunications industry newsletter Communications Day, also attacked Jenkin over his questions to the Turnbull staffer.
“Why do you never ask these questions of the current government and why do you hold one side of politics to a considerably higher standard of burden of proof than the other that is AHEM actually in government? Will you ever speak an ill word against the present situation or will you hide behind your defence that there is “no data” about the NBN as it stands?” wrote Lynch to Jenkin.
The news comes as Turnbull’s relationship with some aspects of Australia’s technology sector continues to be tense (paywalled article), owing both to what some see as the MP’s confrontational approach to discussing the merits of the various NBN policies, as well as Turnbull’s continued support for the FTTN broadband deployment style, which, it is generally acknowledged by telecommunications industry experts, can be rolled out faster and cheaper than Labor’s all-fibre FTTP-based approach, but which is technically inferior in terms of the capabilities it can deliver.
Other bloggers supportive of the NBN, such as IT professional Kieran Cummings, have also continued to severely criticise Turnbull on issues related to the project and the Coalition’s NBN policy.
Turnbull’s relationship with elements of Australia’s technology media has also been difficult at times over the past several years. In March, for instance, Turnbull faced a number of questions from the media as to whether his actions at the time towards ABC journalist Nick Ross and others constituted ‘bullying’ journalists with respect to the contentious NBN issue in his portfolio. And in August last year, Turnbull accused “specialist technology journalists” of fanning a “pro-NBN zealotry” amongst tech-savvy citizens and ignoring “feasible alternatives” to the Government’s current NBN rollout style.