Will Victoria’s Coalition Govt back NBN opt-out?


Victoria’s Coalition Government-Elect has given tantalising signs that its support for the National Broadband Network rollout in the state will not be as complete as that of its Labor predecessor.

The Coalition’s State Deputy and Nationals Leader, Peter Ryan, reportedly said this week that he wanted to ensure the state’s regions did not miss out on the advantages of the NBN rollout. In addition, Business Spectator has reported that Premier-Elect Ted Baillieu said yesterday that he would not support the NBN until basic services such as mobile telephony had been fixed in regional and outer metropolitan areas.

When Victoria’s state election campaign was in full flight last week, the state’s then-Labor Government made a pledge that, so far, no other state in Australia apart from Tasmania has made thus far: To back an opt-out, rather than an opt-in, model for the National Broadband Network rollout in the state.

In short, should John Brumby have retained power as Victorian Premier, every Victoria property owner would be required — as residents and businesses are in Tasmania — to opt out of receiving the NBN’s fibre, wireless and satellite services to their premises, rather than opting in.

However, at the time, and since, Victoria’s Coalition and now Government-Elect has refrained from committing to an opt-out policy regarding the National Broadband Network in the state. Today, former state Shadow ICT Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips did not return calls enquiring as to the state’s policy on the matter.

Ryan’s comments this week reflect the state Coalition’s overall approach to the NBN over the past several years.

In October, Rich-Phillips said a Victorian Liberal Government would work with the NBN and push to get the best deal from the initiative, and in April after the current NBN proposal was first launched, Baillieu expressed support for the initiative. “High-speed broadband, infrastructure and jobs are critical to Victoria’s future and we support the fast-tracking of infrastructure initiatives,” Baillieu said at the time.

The lack of clarity around the opt-out idea being legislated in Tasmania currently extends to other states. The NSW Labor Government — which is expected to lose the next state election in March — has ruled out following the opt-out path, although the state Opposition is not yet known to have released a policy on the matter.

The Queensland Government is also not known to have made a decision on the issue.

The Victorian Coalition Government-Elect has, however, outlined concrete policies on a range of other technology matters. For starters, Baillieu today promised to review the state’s contract with the Kamco consortium to deliver the contract for the troubled myki public smartcard rollout. And the Coalition has also promised to conduct an audit of local municipalities to determine their ICT health and sustainability.

The previous Brumby Government has been extremely active in the technology portfolio compared with other states — regularly announcing local investments in the technology sector such as IBM’s new research and development facility at the University of Melbourne.

Image credit: Liberal Party of Victoria


  1. Looks like the NBN is going to die soon anyways. They need to fix the pipes to america and that before they can really focus on something like the NBN here.

    Look at the school in Tasmania who said they were only getting 30mb/s on fibre. You know why? Because of the bottle neck that happens with the crap overseas

    • @Stuart:

      The Southern Cross Cable across to the US was recently upgraded to 1.2Tbps, with a further planned upgrade to 4.8Tbps (by using 40Gbps tech). In addition, Telstra got their 1.3Tbps Endeavour cable to Hawaii operating at the end of 2008 and Pipe got their PPC1 cable operating last September with another 2.5Tbps. There are numerous other cables to Asia as well.

      All of the above cables are currently using 10Gbps tech, which can be upgraded to 100Gbps tech when required, multiplying the available bandwidth by 10 without laying any additional cables.

      There is no bottleneck to the US.

      The Tassie school has had their speed fixed, after their ISP took the blame and bought more backhaul capacity from Aurora. They are back to 100Mbps now.

    • “Looks like the NBN is going to die soon anyways”

      What have you been smoking? Or more to the point, do you read ‘The Australian’ by any chance?

  2. Although I support every Australian’s constitutional right to opt-out of the NBN, I don’t really understand what happens next. If you opt-out of the system that replaces your copper phone line, does the line just drop dead one day and you have to connect the NBN anyway(at a cost)? Because connecting to the NBN at the time of rollout is free and it replaces the traditional phone lines, I don’t really understand the point or wisdom of opting out. And if you opt-out, then move houses does the new owner cop the bill for your decision not to connect?

  3. “Baillieu said yesterday that he would not support the NBN until basic services such as mobile telephony had been fixed in regional and outer metropolitan areas.”

    Why the hell can you not walk and chew gum at the same time, Ted? and in any case what the hell does NBNco have to do with mobile telephony? i wonder if Ted may be confused between ‘wireless’ internet such as on a smartphone with fixed wireless data (not telephony) services. one is in NBNcos remit, the other afaik is not.

    in any case whoevers remit it is, do both at the same time – fix basic services at the same time as you upgrade wireline services. there is no real logical reason for holding up wireline work til mobile work is done- that work can be done concurrently. i dont see what Teds problem is?

    WeFearChange – afaik thats it, pretty much. youd want to have a mobile phone sorted *before* the line drops dead though. Yes if you opt out and move, the next tenant will have to install it on their dime (i can see this becoming an important point for those thinking of selling up over the next decade).

    i reckon opting out as a choice for the end user is silly. i dont see the point of opt in as a policy either – do it all in slabs at a go with the opt out households omitted, and leave the least work possible to do for those to patch them in later. taking that tack will certainly result in a lot less aggravated consumers over the lifetime of the build. (and wont hurt cost of the build, the alternative of shuttling teams between towns as people opt in and patching as you go is not going to be cheap).

    its not all bad … yet. if he wants to play spoiler, he can tho, and thats a prospect i definitely dont want to see.

  4. So, what is “tantalising” about a state government wanting to make things difficult for NBN? This would only make rollout more inefficient and therefore be a greater cost to taxpapers.

      • Poor choice of words. Tantalising has connotations of being positive or desirable.

        Websters definition:
        1. Torment or tease (someone) with the sight or promise of something unobtainable.
        2. Excite the senses or desires of (someone).

        What’s exciting or desirable about petty state politicians obstructing a national Infrastructure improvement project? It’s the opposite if you ask me.

        So to me, you’re just betraying your bias – but hey, it’s a blog….you can write whatever crap you want.

  5. So Ted Baillieu is displaying the same gross technological ignorance as his federal counterparts. How he can confuse mobile telephony with fixed line connections is astounding. Forcing people to opt in to the NBN is just to spite the Federal Labour party. It is childish in the extreme.

    When copper eventually dies (and it WILL die, of this there is no doubt), someone has to pay to be connected to the NBN when the connection could have been had for free if foresight was used. What irks me is that when I go to rent or purchase a property I will need to ask “Is this property NBN enabled?”. If not, I am likely to be stuck with a future bill foisted on me by a neo-luddite who simply wants to make an ill considered (and utlimately futile) point. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    • The Labor party consistently set low standards and fail to achieve them. The NBN will result in massive debt. Let’s face it, failure is the MO of the ALP

  6. It won’t take long for the luddites to realise opt-out or not opt-in will end up costing them more. A new property now costs quite a bit just to get copper on. If i was a renter or buyer, i’d be using the lack of fibre to get cheaper rent, or reduce the house cost by the cost of the NBN connection.

    The main thing the NBN should do is give everyone an equivalent service. If we were in the USA it would probably be a communist policy. There are plenty of affluent suburbs though without decent connections and plenty of country towns with decent speeds.

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