news Shadow Minister for Communications Jason Clare yesterday presented to Federal Parliament the signatures of 272,000 Australians who want the new Coalition Government to build Labor’s all-fibre version of the National Broadband Network instead of the technically inferior version which is currently being proposed.
Since the Coalition won power in September, a vigorous popular social movement focused on getting the new Abbott administration to abandon its own broadband policy and support Labor’s more ambitious National Broadband Network vision has been gaining force. Supporters of Labor’s vision argue that it will serve Australia’s long-term interests much better, as it features an all-fibre NBN, delivering a more reliable network and faster speeds.
Telecommunications industry experts have consistently stated that they believe Labor’s NBN policy to be highly technically superior to the Coalition’s more modest vision based on using Fibre to the Node and HFC cable delivery mechanisms, as well as having the potential to deliver Australia superior long-term outcomes in terms of service delivery and boosting Australia’s economy through productivity gains.
A petition placed on popular website Change.org on the issue following the election, demanding the Coalition reconsider the FTTN technology and focus on the superior FTTP option, has garnered in excess of 272,000 signatures, with tens of thousands more Australians putting their names to the issue every day.
Yesterday, Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare tabled in Parliament a full copy of the 272,000 signatures on that petition (see photo above).
A statement issued by the Labor MP said that before the election, the Liberal Party promised to build a second rate broadband network – a pale imitation of Labor’s National Broadband Network. “Now they are not even doing that,” it added, referring to the fact that the Coalition’s broadband policy appears to have changed substantially since the election, including the re-use of the HFC cable networks operated by Telstra and Optus for up to a third of Australian premises.
“The NBN is effectively dead. The Liberal Party is not building a National Broadband Network. They are building a series of different networks with different speeds, different capacities and different technologies,” Clare said. “Malcolm Turnbull calls his model the MTM – the Multi Technology Model. I suspect MTM will end up standing for Malcolm Turnbull’s Mess.”
Under Labor, 93 percent of Australian homes and businesses would receive a super-fast fibre broadband connection to their premises. Under “Under Malcolm Turnbull’s Mess,” Clare said, 24% will get fibre to their home; 31% will get fibre to a box in the street; 11% will get fibre to a box in the basement of their apartment; 27% will get broadband from the Pay TV cable in their street; 4% will get broadband through fixed wireless; and 3% will get broadband from satellite services.
“What kind of broadband you get is pot luck. It’s a lucky dip.”
The news comes as a new comprehensive study of public attitudes towards Labor’s National Broadband Network project published this month found the initiative still enjoys very high levels of widespread public support from ordinary Australians, despite what the study described as an “overwhelmingly negative” approach to the project by print media such as newspapers.
When asked ‘Do you have a positive or negative opinion of the National Broadband Network in general?’ respondents expressed an overwhelmingly positive opinion. 26.1 percent responded with “very positive”, 38.2 percent responded with “positive”, 14.8 percent responded with “neutral”, and only 12.6 percent and 8.3 percent responded with “negative” or “very negative”, respectively.
The analysis also considered whether political affiliation would produce any difference in attitudes to the NBN, by asking ‘Which party did you vote for in the 2010 election?’ Respondents who voted for the Liberal and/or National Parties at the 2010 election had a more negative opinion of the NBN than Australian Labor Party (ALP) voters, with ALP voters twice as likely as Liberal voters to hold very positive opinions on the NBN. However, NBN support amongst Liberal voters was still very strong, with 48 percent of that voting base supporting the project.
A number of other surveys conducted over the past 2-3 years have consistently shown strong support for the NBN project amongst Australians, and even Coalition voters.
Image credit: Office of Jason Clare