You’ll get the NBN: Conroy promises Tassie schools


The Office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to bringing the National Broadband Network to Tasmanian schools, in the wake of news yesterday that schools in early stage rollout zones in Tasmania had not had the NBN fibre switched on a year after it was connected.

In parliament this week, Tasmanian Opposition Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson asked Education Minister Nick McKim whether any school in any of the three towns of Scottsdale, Midway Point or Smithton had been connected to the NBN. “No school in any of the three Stage 1 towns are using a production NBN service,” McKim replied. The cause appears to the fact that the state’s education department has an overarching contract for telecommunications services – which predates the NBN.

However, The Federal Government, in addition the Tasmanian State Government, have repetitively touted the ability to bring high-speed broadband to schools as a benefit of the NBN, holding demonstrations of the fibre-optic technology in schools in both Tasmania and other early stage release sites such as Armidale over the past year.

For example, in mid-May, groups of school children in Armidale and Tasmania were filmed in a joint rendition of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ sung over a videoconference link over what appeared to be a NBN link between the two states. School students using next-generation broadband services have also been regularly featured in NBN Co advertisements highlighting the benefits of the NBN to the national education system.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the Government stood by “its stated commitment that all schools will have access to services delivered over the NBN”. “The Gillard Government’s National Broadband Network will give Australian schools access to world-class high speed broadband infrastructure,” the statement said.

Conroy’s office also highlighted the Networking Tasmania contract which governs how State Government departments and agencies accessed telecommunications services. “Tasmanian State schools are predominantly provided with broadband services via a centralised State Government purchasing arrangement outside of the NBN,” it said.

In addition, Conroy’s office pointed to a Tasmanian Department of Education media release issued in late May, which noted that the State Government expected, as the roll-out continued, that all of the telcos currently supplying services to the State Government would offer NBN services which meet the needs of schools and other Government locations.

“In particular, Aurora Energy is working closely with the Government on this matter,” the department’s statement said.

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been invited to comment on the matter, but has not yet responded. However, Tasmania’s Ferguson has issued a statement slamming the State Government over its perceived inaction on the matter.

“The NBN is a tremendous opportunity for our communities and our schools, but the Green-Labor Government has completely dropped the ball,” he wrote. “The benefits of being the first part of the country with the NBN are slipping away as the mainland roll-out commences, yet the Green-Labor Government has done nothing.”

“After all the hype and hyperbole, not even our kids are benefitting from the NBN.”

Image credit: NBN Co


  1. Blah, blah, blah…contracts still exist and I guess they cant be broken so whats the problem? Oh yeah, you dont like the NBN and will write any anything to bring it down…nothing to see here…move along…

  2. ” However, Tasmania’s Ferguson has issued a statement slamming the State Government over its perceived inaction on the matter.”

    Wait.. “perceived inaction”. So there was action? In other words, Ferguson, as a politician, was not aware of a govt media release put out 3+ weeks before his statement?

  3. I appreciate that these schools may currently be under contract, but I don’t see why the current service provider couldn’t migrate the delivery onto the NBN, after all that’s just an infrastructure change and not a change of the actual service

    • Well that goes back to the question I asked in the other blog article discussing this subject, why do you think Telstra owes Conroy and the NBN Co a PR boost?

      • What does this have to do with Telstra?

        Or are you assuming that all services by every service provider have to use Telstra at some point in the other in order to provide said service?

          • I guess it should come down to the delivery then, if it’s by copper then the service should be moved to the NBN, if not then there is nothing NBN Co/Conroy can do about it

          • There is nothing Conroy of the NBN Co can do about it anyway until a new education department contract is signed and it is stipulated that the NBN must be used where available.

            But there is a hell of lot more to these state level Government contracts than the base infrastructure and using the new glossy FTTH ( please we desperately need someone to use this!) just for the hell of it because Conroy needs a PR push to gloat about in Parliament.

          • @ alain,

            In other correspondence previously with you, both here and at ZD (under your alter ego, advocate – you never did explain why you use at least 2 names did you?) we spoke of NBN uptake rates in Tassie and particularly your favourite Brunswick (yes, I know that’s not in Tassie, Mr pedantic, hands of keyboard…keep reading)…

            I suggested that existing contracts needed to be factored, because they would surely impact…! No I didn’t know for sure, it was an opinion, but one based on what’s known as… “common sense and reasoning”…!

            So, although being obvious common sense… instead of being rational and even saying “maybe”, you of course said, “show us the evidence” and continued with the same old, tired spiel. Instead of putting 2 + 2 together and getting 4, your instead wanted to argue over nothing (what a surprise)…

            You are aware that what makes a good debater is one who can acknowledge an opponents good points, whilst still shooting down their over all argument. To blindly argue at all turns, especially against common sense points, is counter-productive and simply shows one to be ridiculously biased or foolish…!

            As such I believe I could make a decent debater, but my downfall is that I tend to enjoy facetiously prodding the “fringe element NBN nay-sayers and 3 or 4 TLS shareholders who believe Australia’s comms should revolve around their portfolios”. This tends to gets me in a bit of strife! Oh well…we all have our vices!

            Anyway… look here in relation to why these schools aren’t on the NBN, from State Education Minister McKim –

            “The cause appears to the fact that the state’s education department has an overarching contract for telecommunications services – which predates the NBN”.

            Now of course that would be good enough for rational people in a rational debate! But I can see 2 areas here where you will say, but, but.

            Firstly, it’s a Labor Education Minister, so you’ll roll out the old “self serving” line (and to be fair, there may be some credence to that) and secondly the magic word “appears”…!

            So once again rather than just accepting common sense, I’m sure you will look past the basis and hone in on the semantics and pedantics…of “one solitary word – appears”…sigh!

            Of course in relation to this comment you can again go for the old trusty dodge, weave and try to deflect, rather than facing the facts, as you like to. Saying things such as this, from 2 days ago –

            “Not that you addressed one single item of any of that discussion, but decided the best form of reponse is to try and concentrate on emphasising the personal attacks as per usual. But a off topic desperate diverting agenda driven rant is about all you can add to any discussion anymore” {END}. And then considering that suffice to have avoided all scrutiny of your baseless comments…!

            Or you could, just pretend not to see this…(probably easiest)!

            Regardless of all of this, imo, this is the evidence, which the lack thereof previously, allowed you to ignore and even had you argue against common sense, but which now “vindicates my previous assumptions”. The smoking gun…LOL!

            Of course governmental bureaucracy at both federal and state level comes into it. But if Telstra have the contract, the fact that Telstra and NBNCo haven’t come to agreement, is probably the major cause? If this is the case, I am willing to blame Telstra and NBNCo (it takes two to Tango). Whilst you of course will suggest it’s 100% NBNCo’s fault… I’m sure…!

            So please don’t let me down now and surprise us all will you, by actually agreeing with common sense and saying that this could even remotely be possible. Because I look forward to seeing (for ***ts & giggles) just what sort of spin or avoidance you can conjure…and just how close to the mark I am at reading you!

      • Firstly:

        a) what does this have to with Telstra, directly? and
        b) Telstra will be using the NBN, same as others, so it *is* in their best interests to start spruking it.

        Telstra’s days as the incumbent shot-caller are numbered. There is still an ‘old guard’ that is desperate to halt change. A bit like some of it’s supporters. Whom can’t see past their share portfolio, at the somewhat bigger picture. ;)

        • “Telstra’s days as the incumbent shot-caller are numbered.”

          That’s why Conroy is negotiating billions with them to get their customer base and shut down their infrastructure.

          The NBN without Telstra onboard is like the proverbial Christmas turkey – stuffed.

          • “That’s why Conroy is negotiating billions with them to get their customer base and shut down their infrastructure.”

            You can’t both sell and keep your customers. Wholesale, perhaps – but Retail? No.

            Telstra’s Retail customers will switch networks, but they remain Telstra customers, none the less.

          • “Telstra’s Retail customers will switch networks’

            Not they get to choose, but that’s ‘open choice’ Conroy style, how else will the NBN even come close to being viable?

          • alain says “The NBN without Telstra onboard is like the proverbial Christmas turkey – stuffed”.

            So the flip-side to your claim, with Telstra onboard the NBN is a winner…!

          • So the flip-side to your claim, with Telstra onboard the NBN is a winner…!

            This is the finest example of a strawman argument I’ve seen in ages :-)

          • Of course not… alain and winner in the same sentence, paragraph, universe…as if ;-)

            Ah that was the flip-side, you do understand what that means?

  4. Yes I’m sure given the “choice” of 100M fibre…


    Dial up, RIM, ADSL (up to 8M – but probably no more than 3 or 4), ADSL2 (up to 20M – but like me less than 6) at similar prices or even less, they will be heart broken [sic]… !

    Just like those who weren’t given a choice to stick to their (you guessed it) dirt roads…sigh!

  5. Even if one of the schools connected to the DoE WAN via the NBN the internet speeds at the school would hardly change as DoE schools filtering is all managed centrally with a limited connection to the outside world that is shared between all schools. I know of schools that had fibre provided by Telstra, but were “upgraded” to ADSL2+ to cut costs.

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