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