Tasmanian Liberal Leader demands FTTP NBN


news Tasmanian Liberal Leader Will Hodgman has reportedly spoken directly to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull arguing “strongly” that Tasmania needs a full rollout of Fibre to the Premises broadband technology, as opposed to the partial FTTP and partial Fibre to the Node rollout outlined by NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski this week.

Many Tasmanians believe the Coalition, specifically Malcolm Turnbull, committed the Coalition’s Broadband Network rollout (CBN) in the state to a full Fibre to the Premises deployment during last year’s Federal Election campaign. However, in fact, Turnbull never explicitly made such a promise; stating only that a Coalition Government would honour construction contracts signed by NBN Co. Some Tasmanians took this statement to mean that the Coalition would commit to a full rollout of Fibre to the Premises broadband in the state. However, Turnbull never committed to such a model; and such contracts are known to be able to be modified.

The Coalition has always stated that it preferred a Fibre to the Node and HFC-based approach to the NBN. In mid-December, NBN Co delivered its Strategic Review, recommending that Labor’s all-fibre approach to its broadband network be replaced by a mixed FTTN/HFC cable/FTTP approach under the Coalition.

Speaking on ABC Radio in Tasmania yesterday, Switkowski confirmed Fibre to the Node would be used in Tasmania. “Obviously in the previous model, the infrastructure was going to be an all fibre infrastructure,” he said. “Post the election and post the strategic review, we’ve now agreed on a multi-technology model where we’ll seek to use a existing copper network where we can.”

This morning, the ABC published an article (we recommend you click here for the full story) quoting Liberal Leader Will Hodgman as stating that he picked up the phone to Turnbull as soon as he heard about the Fibre to the Node plan for Tasmania.

According to the ABC, Hodgman said broadband was critical infrastructure and he wanted to see the best possible service delivered, but that it has to be efficient and affordable for the Federal Government. “It’s a federal project but I’ll argue strongly our preferred position is fibre to the home. I don’t resile from that, and that’s what I’ll argue for,” he reportedly said.

The revelation means all of the major political parties in Tasmania are in favour of an all-fibre broadband rollout for the state, with Labor and the Greens also supporting such a rollout.

In a statement issued yesteday, TasICT, the state-based industry body representing the local IT industry, urged Turnbull to come to Tasmania and explain the full repercussions of Switkowski’s comments. “It’s disappointing that the future of Tasmania’s most important infrastructure project in decades was announced by a government-owned corporation via a local radio interview,” said TasICT executive officer Dean Winter.

“Tasmanian businesses and consumers have been craving certainty around this project since the Federal Election. We expected to have a full understanding of what the NBN rollout would look like by December, but we’re now in February and all we’re certain about is that Tasmania won’t be receiving the full Fibre to the Premises (FttP) rollout it was promised.”

“Mr Turnbull must explain and justify his decision to downgrade Tasmania’s NBN rollout. If it is on the basis of cost, then he should release NBN co’s analysis of those costs so that we can have a clear understanding of why the decision was made. It’s important that areas with the highest need for superfast broadband technology are prioritised to receive FttP technology. One of the key problems with the original rollout plan was the prioritisation of suburbs and towns that did not require first access to the technology.”

“Mr Turnbull should release a list of the areas that will not get Fibre to the Premises (FttP) technology and what technology they will receive as soon as possible.”

Long-running Tasmanian issue
The Tasmanian population is highly aware of broadband as an issue and has consistently raised its voice on the NBN topic as a unified group far louder than other states have.

After the 2010 Federal Election, former Howard-era Minister Peter Reith produced a report on the Coalition’s election loss. The majority of the report does not mention the NBN, but one section quotes extensively from a similar report produced last year by Sydney academic Julian Leeser into the Tasmanian leg of the election, which has been reported in brief.

“The failure to properly explain the Liberal Party’s broadband policy and the Labor Party’s effective scare campaign was a major cause of the party’s failure to win seats in Tasmania,” the report states. “This was the nearly universal review of people making submissions to the review and is borne out by research undertaken by the Liberal Party. In the view of many, the party’s policy amounted to a threat to come into people’s homes and rip the Internet out of the wall.”

The report added that the NBN policy had a particularly strong effect on Tasmania for a number of reasons. For starters, the fibre network was already being rolled out in some towns, and Tasmania is also often behind the mainland in receiving new technology — so the early stage NBN rollout was seen as a boost to the state, as well as having flow-on effects in terms of jobs, for example.

In comparison, the Liberals’ policy was not as clear-cut as Labor’s. “One of the problems of the broadband policy was that nowhere in the policy document was there any carve-out for Tasmania or any explanation of what the Liberal Party would do with existing infrastructure,” wrote Leeser in the report. “Numerous senior Liberals in Tasmania had raised the issue of broadband in Tasmania with senior Federal Liberals in Canberra, but a carve-out for Tasmania was forgotten.”

“The broadband policy was written at the last minute without a set of Tasmanian eyes cast over it. The party needs to make a clear and unambiguous statement about its intentions on broadband infrastructure in Tasmania in the future.”

My opinion on this issue is detailed in an article published in Delimiter 2.0 (paywalled). As I wrote in October:

“Malcolm Turnbull never specifically promised Tasmanians that the all-fibre NBN rollout in the state would be completed as originally planned. But if there is any one state in Australia that deserves to have a universal Fibre to the Premises National Broadband Network, it’s the Apple Isle, which has been a perpetual broadband backwater for the past decade and more.

… If you compare Tasmania to the rest of the country, after all, it is inherently different. It has fewer natural economic advantages, being neither a mining nor farming powerhouse, neither a financial center nor a major seat of government. Its telecommunications infrastructure has languished behind the rest of Australia for a decade now, as has its level of retail telecommunications competition; yet it desperately needs that infrastructure in order to stimulate its economy. And its population is highly aware of that fact and politically active regarding the NBN.

For all these reasons, it would make sense for the Coalition Federal Government to continue putting Tasmania first when it comes to the NBN; and in many ways, that means guaranteeing a mostly FTTP-based NBN rollout for the state. It’s what Tasmania needs; it’s what it, more than any other state, has always been promised; and most importantly, it’s what long-suffering Tasmanians deserve.

It’s for these reasons that politicians and the general public have always viewed Tasmania as being a special case for the NBN rollout. Tasmania was always slated to get the NBN first; it was always involved at a deeper level than other states in the project, and its politicians, on both sides of the fence, have always been more enthusiastic about the initiative than politicians on the mainland — even to the extent that some Coalition politicians in Tasmania have agitated for the NBN to be rolled out faster and more widely in the state, going against the dominant narrative of their national party colleagues.

They say in Government that ideally, every policy should have both a public interest aim as well as delivering a political bonus to the Minister of the day. That opportunity certainly exists here for the Coalition, which has sometimes struggled in Tasmania, but could do much to lock its future fortunes in with the state’s residents if it supported a decent NBN rollout.

For all these reasons, it would make sense for the Coalition Federal Government to continue putting Tasmania first when it comes to the NBN; and in many ways, that means guaranteeing a mostly FTTP-based NBN rollout for the state. It’s what Tasmania needs; it’s what it, more than any other state, has always been promised; and most importantly, it’s what long-suffering Tasmanians deserve.”

Image credit: Tasmanian Liberals


  1. Would anyone believe that the LNP will put in FTTP in Tasmania? Just waiting for the most desperate side to do a SPC and promise to fund it from state coffers.

  2. “Post the election and post the strategic review, we’ve now agreed on a multi-technology model where we’ll seek to use a existing copper network where we can.” – Ziggy

    So they’ve already decided, CBA be damned? Of course, they don’t have to wait for the CBA – with the panel they have chosen, they can be assured they’ll get the outcome they want, but they could at least pretend to not do exactly the same thing they accused Labor of (remember how big an issue the CBA thing was! I thought, correctly as it turns out, that that was just opposition for oppositions sake, not that they were actually interested in the outcomes of a CBA).

    I also hate all this ‘multi-technology mix’ crap. The NBN *was* a mix of technologies – the best ones for each area (fibre is obviously the highest quality and highest bandwidth access you can get, so they used that where they could, fixed wireless is good when you have a low enough population density (given spectrum scarcity and bandwidth limits of each tower) but people are somewhat close together, and then satellite, which is the best you can do in an affordable manor for the really remote areas).

    • the panel itself is indeed a bad joke

      for my part i can see Ergas’ grubby fingerprints all over this. they arent even being subtle anymore….. the behaviour about the CBA is pretty much the same thing – this is all window dressing to set us up for what the Libs want to lump us with.

      theres no real thought behind it… i agree its very much grown out of the opposition for oppositions sake thinking, very reactionary and with 0 vision for the future. i find it instructive the Tas Liberal leader (Hodgman) picked up the blower immediately, and his commentary seems to suggest he understands and accepts that vision of a better connected tassie using FTTP.

      too bad about the blokes in Federal Liberal, eh?

    • Good point about the CBA.

      One of Malcolms bugbears about the NBN was that Labor went ahead without doing a CBA….which is exactly what he is now doing…the fact that he will get a CBA (that ignores the actual social benefits, and probably the productivity and innovation benefits as well), means diddly squat seing as they have already mandated FttN…

      • I would have thought the fact it’ll need upgrading in 5 years suggests that a CBA is unnecessary?

  3. A lie by deception and omission is still a lie, if Mr Fraudband failed to correct media pundits and others that assumed the FTTH network would be completed in Tasmania (these ideas were heavily present in statements made by liberal candidates and in the media), he’s still a liar.
    Mr Fraudband shouldn’t have been allowed to use the terminology of “NBN” for his version of product that was substantially different from the definition of NBN in “about us” on the NBN website.
    People unfortunately believed he would complete the “NBN” because that is exactly what he was promising.
    Mr Fraudband’s definition of the NBN network had no resemblance whatsoever to the either public’s or NBN Co’s accepted definition of the NBN.
    Mr Fraudband is just a F**king liar.

  4. There must be an election soon in Tassie – compare Will’s words before and then after.

    • Yeah, I’m not sure anyone could trust him unfortunately. Every Liberal gov so far has gone back on it’s word, from Qld saying they wouldn’t sack public servants (which was actually the first thing they did), to NSW saying they wouldn’t privatise assets, to the Feds long, long list.

      The only thing they _would_ really take notice of is Labor actually keeping Tas.

  5. “Tasmanian Liberal Leader demands FTTP NBN”

    How many will be so gullible to fall for more Liberal Party rhetoric?

    With a state election coming up what the hell else is he going to say?

    Anything it takes just like the drivel that some believed coming from Abbott’s & Turnbulls prior election, though it didn’t stop there, the drivel continues to spew out in ever faster self righteous fashion.

  6. If the major cost of FTTP is the labour component, how are they saving money rolling out FTTN? The contracts are signed already, they pay the same money either way.

    • because they don’t have to run fibre to each house. They can just do it a “central” point.

  7. The Liberal member for Tasmania needs to suck it up like the rest of us and accept the raw deal or raise his voice for all Australians and not just the tiny percentage living on the apple isle.

    Everyone or no one.

  8. Before the election:
    ‘I picked up the phone immediately … I strongly argue for FTTP’

    After the election:
    ‘Sorry guys, Labor mess etc.’

  9. Renai, I loved this little bit in the last paragraph of your piece from October last year – “it’s what it, more than any other state, has always been promised”. Now you know why we are so pissed off about what Ziggy said yesterday.

    • I know why Tasmanians are pissed off, but I think they should be handling it in a more intelligent way, rather than claiming they were lied to … there should be an acknowledgement that Turnbull never promised what people are saying he did. These protests should have been held last year, not at the last minute now. Turnbull’s view on this, and the Coalition’s approach, has not changed in more than six months.

      • I think Turnbull has been deliberately vague and has used misleading language, and that is tantamount to deception.

        Have Tasmanians been lied to?
        Not really. At most, there is a case for it having been a lie by omission.

        Have Tasmanians been deceived?
        Yes. Absolutely.

        It’s true that people should have been protesting it last year – but how would they have known that they should be protesting? How did they know that they had been deceived until after the fact?

      • OK Renai, he didn’t explicitly promise FTTH to Tasmania.
        But do you think that Mr Turnbull didn’t know that Tasmanians believed they were getting it based on what he said? If it was unintential that what he said made them mistakenly think they were getting FTTH, why didn’t he clear that up?

        • He didn’t clear it up because it was politically expedient for him not to directly address the issue. What is criminal here is that Tasmania’s political and media elite didn’t do enough back then to clarify the issue. They misread what he said. I examined it very closely at the time.

          • I do remember him getting questioned on it and getting quite nasty about it, saying he had said he would honour contracts and that Tassy not getting the NBN (they were talking FTTH, but I guess he ignored that) was a beat up. It was this occasion wasn’t it? Too much BS flowing under the bridge to rember the exact time each bit flowed.

      • All the tech literate readers knew exactly what Turnbull was saying. We called them out on it in social media, in comments on the Mercury and Examiner websites… Andrew Connor (Digital Tasmania spokesperson) did a couple of interviews in the week before the election and pointed out that…. but people read newspapers and the big newspapers were still heavily biased towards the Abbott government (The Examiner in particular was very cosy with Andrew Nikolic).

  10. A check back through the Whirpool thread about the fibre rollout in Tasmania will show that there were quite a few of us challenging Turnbull and his faux-promise long before the election. Unfortunately, nobody was listening. Also unfortunately we were drowned out by some in the tech and mainstream media who were taking him at his word. As an example, I am still waiting to see a copy of his fully-costed NBN policy document.

  11. People have been fooled

    it seems that Renai continues to beleive turnbull ,that is his choice if he wants to take a risk in credibility so be it

    Turnbull it seems will continue to be a protected

    • Of course Turnbull wanted to deceive people with his comments during the election on the FTTP situation in Tasmania. All I am saying is that I wasn’t fooled by those comments. They were a transparent political gambit. So why did so many influential people in Tasmania take them seriously?

      • So if Turnbull pledged to honour the construction contracts (which are FTTP), and people are told that all construction contracts are in place by NBN Co, why are they wrong to expect those contracts to be fulfilled and FTTP to be rolled out to the whole state as promised.

        This release is direct from NBN Co
        “NBN Co has locked in the construction contract that will see Tasmania become the first state in Australia where the National Broadband Network will be rolled out in its entirety.” 26th March 2012 http://www.nbnco.com.au/content/dam/nbnco/media-releases/2012/nbnco-seals-construction-contract-to-complete-tasmanian-rollout-260312.pdf

        What your expectation be, having read that release from NBN Co Renai? Would you conclude the whole state is contractually locked in to get FTTP? I certainly would.

        How are “influential people” wrong for believing what they are told, when this information came direct from the source i.e. NBN Co? I don’t get it.
        Why are they wrong for calling out Turnbull for reneging on that very clear promise from NBN Co?
        What information source are they supposed to be relying on if not NBN Co?

        • “What your expectation be, having read that release from NBN Co Renai?”

          The Coalition issued their NBN policy in April 2013, a year after that NBN Co release came out. It featured FTTN. It was all about FTTN. I fail to see how people could get that policy wrong.

          Should Tasmania get full FTTP? Of course it should. Did Turnbull ever promise full FTTP? No. He did not. He avoided the subject and repeated the same statement he had made about the mainland about honouring contracts, knowing it would let him out of making such a promise. Many Tasmanians, including the media and politicians, drew their own (wrong) inferences from Turnbull’s statements on this issue.

          Was Turnbull wrong to do this? Of course. He should have clarified the case. The fact that he did not constitutes deception. However, the fact remains that he was aided in that deception by the stupidity of the media, which did not do enough to analyse his statements. As I wrote here:


          • Renai I actually back what you are saying here.

            However, I Think what Mr Creosote is trying to point out is that based on the statement on NBN co’s website:
            NBN Co has locked in the construction contract that will see Tasmania become the first state in Australia where the National Broadband Network will be rolled out in its entirety.”

            And based on Malcolm saying “Contracts would be honored” or whatever, it sounded like the Contracts were for Pure FTTP and THAT would Be honored which Meant, the NBN would be Rolled out in its entirety in Tasmania AS IS (FTTP).

            Now While I read it again in light of all that has been pointed out. It didnt say “locked in the FTTP Construction Contract” merely “The Construction Contract”, which as far as I would know, could mean Satellite or FTTN could be used to Complete Construction Obligations right?

            Anyway, Even knowing all this, the thing can still be really confusing so I understand why people feel so outraged and some may be directing it to you because They might think you are saying “Turnbull already said he wanted FTTN its been in their Broadband policy for ages” and other people are Saying “Yes We know, but He said he would honor the Contracts already in place regardless and the contracts were for FTTP”….
            I dont think anyone is trying to argue that the Policy has Changed, just that he actually isnt honoring the contracts anymore

            Eh… I apologise if I went around in Circles and got lost!

          • I understand what people are saying here; it’s just that it was obvious at the time that he used that specific “honour the contract” wording to have his cake and eat it too — implying Tassie would get FTTP while also never actually committing to it.

            I think perhaps that it wasn’t obvious to everyone, which I’m happy to admit.

          • I think if NBNCo said construction contracts for FTTP were locked in, and Turnbull stated he would honor exiting contracts, common sense dictates that means FTTP. Turnbull not honoring the contracts that were locked in after he said he would is the very definition of lying.

          • NBN Co has said the Tasmanian rollout was fibre. Turnbull agreed the rollout contract was for fibre in his blog. What else can completing this contract mean other than rolling out fibre?

            It seems to me that a lot of the objection is derived from a lot of “reading between the lines”. This is why there is so much confusion.

            I suggest we stick to what was put down in black and white by both NBN Co and Turnbull – actual evidence – which states the contract is for fibre and hold them to accont for nothing less than what they have promised.

          • “Did Turnbull ever promise full FTTP? No. He did not. ”
            I disagree Renai. As late as November 2013, well after the release of his policy , he said

            “Prior to the election I said that the Coalition would ensure the NBN Co honoured all of its existing contractual obligations including those with respect to the Tasmanian rollout.

            I also said that we did not have access to the terms of those contracts.

            The NBN Co has advised me that it has a contract with Visionstream to run fibre past about 190,000 premises in Tasmania, of which around 18,000 have been already passed by Visionstream making a total of 32,000 passed in Tasmania.” http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/it-takes-two-to-tango-nbn-rollout-in-tasmania

            He plainly admits the contract stipulates running fibre past 190,000 premises. This is consistent with the NBN Co press release I quoted previously that referred to about 200,000 premises being guaranteed.

            Turnbull and NBN Co committed to fibre past 190,00-200,000 premises. They are delivering fibre to 120,000, and copper to the rest.

            People in Tasmania are right to say they have been lied to. They clearly have. Its all there in black and white.

          • Wow that’s pretty much definitive proof of a lie. It’d be interesting to see Tasmanian politicians bring up that particular quote in front of Turnbull.

          • Turnbull intends to run fibre past those houses… the problem is he’s going to plug it into a node. Following the letter not the intent.
            Akin to someone sending him free entry to a telecommunications conference… then denying him exit :)

  12. “After the 2010 Federal Election, former Howard-era Minister Peter Reith produced a report on the Coalition’s election loss. The majority of the report does not mention the NBN, but one section quotes extensively from a similar report produced last year”

    I’ve read that bit several times, and each time it says to me that a 2010 report quoted things from a 2013 report. I think maybe you meant “similar report produced the year before”. Or perhaps the Liberals have a time machine that’s not always stuck in 1950?

    • Sort of – when the Federal Government was requesting submissions for the FTTN network, the Tasmanian Government put in a tender for a Tasmania only FTTH network . It was to use the existing Aurora (government owned) electricity distribution network. The Federal Government used this plan as a base for the NBN.

  13. So, I have read all the comments and also believe that Malcolm has cleverly misrepresented his vision to Tasmania for his political advantage.I know what our expectations are of politicians in general, but this man is an outrage. If anybody votes for Will Hodgeman because he has apparently stood up for the FTTH I say ‘more fool you’

  14. You know things are not well when local LNP members don’t agree with the FTTN vision. THey know they are being short changed.

    • Oh, he agrees with LNP HQ, but political expediency dictates that, much like Malcolm’s “We’ll honour contracts” statement, he requires to appear otherwise in an attempt to reap the maximum swing vote.

      I highly recommend watching “Yes, Minister” and “House of Cards” so you can get a real feel for the whole system…

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