Strong NBN support amongst Coalition voters


news More Coalition voters support the Labor Federal Government’s flagship National Broadband Network project than are against it, according to new research released today, as support for the initiative continues to grow to record levels.

The poll was taken by Australian social and market research company Your Source as part of the pair’s regular polling and research efforts, and analysed by research house Essential Media. Your Source usually sends out between 7,000 and 8,000 invitations to respond to each poll it conducts, from which it received 1,024 responses for this specific poll. This week’s poll questioned respondents on their voting intentions in the next Federal Election, as well as their approval ratings on the various leaders and the NBN.

According to the polling data (PDF), in total 42 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Liberal or National voters stated that they were in favour of the NBN, while 40 percent in total opposed the project and the remaining 18 percent didn’t know.

Of that 42 percent, eight percent were strongly in favour of the Labor plan, with 34 percent being in favour, and of the 40 percent against, 14 percent strongly opposed the NBN, with 26 percent opposing it. Amongst Labor and Greens voters, the numbers are much more strongly in favour of the NBN, with 80 percent of Labor voters and 68 percent of Greens voters for the plan, and with a much higher proportion of those polled being strongly in favour.

In its analysis, Essential Media said opposition to the NBN had declined a little since the question was last asked in February. At that stage, in total, 56 percent of Australians supported the NBN (57 percent now) and 25 percent were against it (22 percent now). By age group, those under 35 were more likely to support the NBN (63 percent favour it, 13 percent oppose), compared with those over 55, of which 55 percent favour it and 35 percent oppose.

However, in some senses, it does appear that opposition to the NBN in general is gradually growing. In late September 2010, just two weeks after the appointment of Malcolm Turnbull as Shadow Communications Minister, Essential Media conducted a similar poll of voters’ NBN views. At that stage, it found that only 18 percent of those polled opposed the NBN, compared with 22 percent at the moment, and that figure has been as high as 31 percent, in February 2011. The total voters in favour of the project has remained relatively stable, around 56 to 57 percent.

Essential Media also asked Australians whether the area that they lived in would be connected to the NBN over the next three years, following NBN Co’s revelation of its three-year rollout plans several weeks ago. 29 percent of respondents said yes, 19 percent no, but about half (52 percent) didn’t know, with older respondents tending to be better informed about the rollout than younger respondents.

The research house also asked respondents whether they would sign up for Internet access under the NBN, when it became available. “46 percent say they will definitely or probably sign up for Internet access when the NBN becomes available in their area,” the group wrote in its report. “22 percent will probably or definitely not and 33 percent don’t know.” Younger respondents and Labor/Greens voters were more likely to be planning to sign up, compared with older respondents or those voting for the Coalition.

What this new research tells us in general is that most Australians support the NBN, but that support is less strong amongst Coalition voters than it is amongst Labor/Greens voters. This is hardly a surprise, considering the Coalition’s constant war on the project over the past several years.

However, I don’t think we should lose track of the point that even amongst Coalition voters, most of those polled said they either supported the NBN or didn’t know whether they were for it or against it. Only 40 percent were broadly against the plan, despite the incessantly negative campaign the Coalition has run on the issue. From my point of view, what this means is that the Coalition is going to have a hard time campaigning against the NBN during the next Federal Election campaign. A very large proportion of its base supports the project, after all. This means that it will have to convince those voters, as well as the strongly entrenched NBN supporting Labor and Greens voters, of the merits of any opposition proposal.

With this in mind, if I was a Coalition strategist, I would try to avoid substantially campaigning on the NBN during the next election at all. The other sections of the Essential Media poll show strong support for the Coalition in general, with 56 percent of those polled supporting the Coalition on a two party preferred basis, and only 44 percent supporting Labor. This has changed radically from polling taking during the 2010 Federal Election campaign — where it was basically neck and neck.

If the Coalition campaigns too hard on the NBN during the next election campaign, in other words, it may reduce its own general lead. It would be better advised to ‘nullify’ the NBN as an issue by presenting a moderately credible alternative that won’t scare the electorate away (evening the race), and then focusing on other issues which may have more of an effect upon voters. To my mind, Turnbull’s statements on Coalition NBN policy are leading in this direction — the Coalition agrees with the need for fast broadband but not with the Labor Government’s methods. However, there are still many hurdles a Coalition NBN policy needs to jump to become credible, including the future of the current proposal and dealing with Telstra.


  1. Interesting, but as you said not super surprising. The average person would of course love faster internet, but the Coalition being the Economic Rationalists they are, have to be opposed to such a plan.

    Just our of interest, any word on who commissioned the study (that is, if there was a commissioning orgnanisation). Did a quick search of the pdf and can’t find anything.

    • Don’t know that the opposition’s hatred of NBN has much to do with economic rationalism per se. It’s not very economic, and it’s certainly not rational.

      If we go back to when Tony Abbott made Malcolm Turnbull shadow comms minister with instructions to destroy the NBN, and look at all the performances since, we might reasonably conclude that the main and possibly only reason for such mindless opposition is that the Labor party thought of NBN first.

  2. This news doesn’t surprise me at all but I think the most hilarious thing is after all the whining and relentless sad sack bleating from the coalition clown supporting media the majority are still in favour of the NBN. It must be a devastating and humiliating feeling to realise all that effort was for nothing. Also good to know people are waking up and are not fooled by the articles and the paid shills commenting on them. +1 Australia.

    • “It must be a devastating and humiliating feeling to realise all that effort was for nothing”

      They take humiliation to a new level but it’s one that comes from a heart of deception and hidden agendas. The sad part is they seem not to care thinking the self destructing current government as done enough for them to get a shoe in at the next election and then some.

  3. Of course everybody thinks an NBN is a good idea. In princiiple. Who wouldn’t want everyone to be connected. Who wouldn’t want their connection to be fast enough to do whatever they could want to do on it. So if everyone “supports” it, why have so few people – 11% of those whose home is has passed – actually signed up. The answer to that is because support in principle isn’t the same as support in practice. The best example of that is that most Australians support an American military alliance, they just don’t support every single war that alliance has dragged us into.

    • Gordon, you haven’t considered that most people are tied into 24 month contracts on copper supplied ADSL.

        • @Mathew

          No, there are a few factors that mean that this isn’t the case. ISPs are charged certain fees by Telstra to connect up a user, the contract is there to ensure that the ISP/RSP makes back that money. Also, users often get a free modem included with a 24 month contract and the ISP/RSP needs the contract term to recover that cost too. Yes, the ISP/RSP could choose to allow you to do this but why would they if it means they cannot recoup their losses.

          @Richard Ure

          Because contracts often provide a low cost (or free) start up fee for a user taking up an ADSL connection. So it is cheaper for the user as long as they are willing to stick with the ISP/RSP they sign up for. For a lot of people, the internet is not important enough to incur a penalty fee for breaking their contract to move to another provider; So they wait for their contract to finish up before leaving. I am assuming that when Telstra transfers people onto the NBN that they keep their existing contracts, not really sure how that is planned to work.

      • How do you know “most people are on a contract” I’ll make stab and say most people have been using the internet for some time, are happy with their ISP and see no need for formally sign up for a specified time again.

      • Please explain why take up rates are important? Given you cant stay ON adsl as it rolls through, they’re TOTALLY irrelevant. They serve no purpose other than to be a pointless indicator of progression. If someone’s tied to a contract, they cant move unless offered by their telco. They WILL have to move, regardless of whether the country goes to FTTH or FTTN.

        It really annoys me that you consistently bring up the “take-up rate” figures, given they serve absolutely no purpose.

        Its like saying the “take-up rate” for Brisbane’s Clem 7 tunnel was low and doesnt justify the cost. We know its low and we know it was a flop. That doesnt change the fact people still use more now than they did in the first 5 years Newman was Mayor of Brisbane – purely because it does actually make a trip in brisbane massively faster.

    • How about the simple fact that the NBN is being built for FUTURE needs, not CURRENT needs? A low takeup rate can be a GOOD thing, because it means the service will be around for a good time to come, and useage can grow into whats there. For the penny pinchers against the NBN and whinging about the cost, isnt that a good thing?

      ADSL was the same. People were slow to connect, but over time it became the norm. ADSL2, ditto. All it means is that capacity TODAY is below what NBN delivers.

      I liken it to dialup. When ADSL came out, most people connected to the net simply surfed, or used it for email. Then other needs kicked in, and dialup wasnt enough. So those basic users upgraded. The ADSL had been there a while, but because people didnt need it, there was plenty of capacity. Fast forward to today, you have 10-15 devices in a standard house that connect to the net, and even ADSL isnt enough.

      Its about building capacity for future needs, and a low uptake means the planning makes that allowance.

  4. Will this change the will of the Radically Right wing Abbott Government that sees a massive budget surplus as an automatic election winner? Yeah, nah. I don’t think so.

  5. I can’t believe there is still a debate about this going on!
    It’s like asking someone if they want there grandchildren to breathe fresh air as they get older or smog. Of course, the old hard liners are saying “I had to breathe coal soot and it didn’t harm me so my grand children can do the same” then you have the new age greenies saying “a smarter society needs cleaner air and if we don’t provide it society is doomed to fail”
    The reality is it’s a no-brainer. Let’s just give them one last chance to prove themselves before the election. If they screw up again, then we’ll boot them out!

  6. Another opinion poll – how exciting!

    They sent out 7K to 8K enquiries and got 1,024 replies.

    Which proves that 12.5% of the population think that opinion polls are important and the vast majority (87.5%) think they are a waste of valuable time.

    I wonder what the 87.5% think. Guess I will have to wait patiently for the next Federal election.

    • good point about opinion polls. that’s probably true about other polls which Tony Abbott is relying on to win the next election. that’s why there is no credible broadband plan, as he thinks he will win any way.

      wonder what the 87.5% of the people will say about coalition’s policies? the Australian newspaper has already made Abbott the next prime minister based on these polls. but when it comes to NBN, these polls only reflect views of a small majority.

      Coalition would be better of accepting NBN as it is and move the debate to other areas. if they want a cost benefit analysis, they can do them while the network is being built. if they need to adjust rollout methods etc, they can do so, without delaying it any further. they have wasted their 10 years already and Malcolm Turnbull will take another 10 years before negotiating a new agreement with Telstra.

      hope common sense prevails within coalition.

  7. So what? The grass is always greener is not new to humanity. But the NBN take up rates are very, very low. That is fact, not some contrived survey.

    • Of course it’s low. It’s early days. It’s higher take up than other countries fast broadband rollouts achieved in even longer time frames. You have to remember Telstra only just released their plans too. I am not sure how quickly they are shifting there customers over. They are still the largest ISP.

    • *facepalm* Those are TRIAL SITES. You realize it’s impossible for the NBN to not have near 100% takeup when it’s built since people will still need it at least for VOIP, right? The copper will be gone. I’m trying to understand what your point is when you mention takeup rates.

  8. The Survey asked 3 questions on the NBN, not just what you selectively quote. I cannot see how these results support your opinions. I suppose you can make stats support anything you like.

    The people I speak to overwhelming support a cost benefit analysis for the NBN. With so much spent and so little progress to date, that is hardly surprising. People want value for money and not finance some plaything of politicians and geeks.

    • That old chestnut, the cost benefit analysis. Let’s do one for hospitals too. I mean everyone has a GP nearby. These sick people just cost money. I demand a CBA before we build any more hospitals.

      Sheash. How about schools too? It would be cheaper not to educate our population and just import foreign workers wouldn’t it?

      • If the government had done a cost-benefit analysis of the GP super clinics then they wouldn’t be the unmitigated disaster that is currently unfolding around the country.

        • What is it with Liberal supporters like you? It’s the same as conservatives in the US. You just fanatically repeat the same statements over and overrr and oveerrrr again, without a care to actual facts or reality.

          Why is truth and fairness so meaningless to you people? Where does your motivation derive from?

          • Several of the GP Super Clinics have required additional government funding beyond their multi-million dollar setup fees. The Modbury SA one had trouble attracting doctors and now cannot attract sufficient patients to make it viable.

            Contrast this with the alternative of supporting existing GPs to extend services and a much better result almost certainly have been delivered much more cheaply.

  9. “It would be better advised to ‘nullify’ the NBN as an issue by presenting a moderately credible alternative that won’t scare the electorate away …”

    The Coalition has talked about a lot of things in relation to broadband. We’ve had everything from mostly wireless to mostly FTTP (as in NZ). We’ve had a network being built by a Network Co, the NBNCo and Telstra. We’ve had structural separation of Telstra to form a Network Co and the transfer of the copper to the NBNCo. We’ve had scrapping the NBN roll out to honouring contracts that could see construction continue for four years after the election.

    That’s a lot of talk but without actually saying anything. There is certainly not a “moderately credible”, or even moderately coherent, policy in there. It’s just a lot of talk that is intended to fool enough of the people enough of the time to win an election.

  10. lol… another poor attempt at pro-NBN campaigning

    once the ALP is destroyed at the next election, this money laundering scam called NBN will be investigated

    • Webster’s definition of Money Laundering:
      Money laundering refers to the process of concealing the source of legally and illegally and grey area obtained monies.

      How is it illegally obtained if A: we made MORE money through the process and B: ITS OURS TO START WITH?

  11. If you do some research into the owners and directors of EMC, and who their clients are, you would not be surprised that most of their polls come out with a distinct lean to the left.

    If this is the best that the ALP and their supporters can come up with, then heaven help them.


    • Douglas and NBN is money laundering, *rolls eyes*, seriously…

      This is a tech site designated to, funnily enough… tech issues.

      Please leave your political campaigning and tin foil hats at the door before entering… either that or just turn around and return to the AJ lasers forum…


  12. Wah, still talking. For all those who don’t want it, why waste effort posting anything. Must be the trolls of copper telcos or ISPs.

    The solution for NBN Co is simple. Just don’t roll-out to those who say they don’t want it, since Australia give and they say they don’t want it. Add a web-page in the NBN Co web-site to allow those who want it to register and and make it legal for those who say they don’t want it now to pay for the cost if they want it five years later.

    Two of my properties missed out in the current roll-out plan in the South-Eastern Melbourne surburbs. NBN Co, please revised the plan, roll-out to my two properties since I want the FTTH services, any time. I will even pay three thousands dollars each.

    • :D

      We use this analogy quite a bit in telco.

      Its a bit like an iPhone. Everyone wants it, few people understands it and noone understands why they want it so badly – but they know its good.

      Sell it like Apple sells a product, you’d have massive demand.

    • Good Idea, in fact go the logical progression. Miss the Conservative seats altogether, after all they voted against it. And miss all areas with access to HFC. Being Conservatives they will be happy with the Conservative alternative even though it will cost the taxpayers Billions more over the 20 Year time frame for a mickey Mouse solution. Also only run to those that opt in. The Coalition Have stated they will sell it all , which in the partial build state will be a firesale price more than likely to a predatory foreign Company. However considering What has been built and the sale price, the ACC should be able to enforce very low pricing

      • “And miss all areas with access to HFC”

        Please no. I have HFC running past my place that now and then I try to get them to connect. Haven’t convinced them yet and I’ve been trying 10 years. It’s because I share a common driveway and it would pass over it. They um and ahh and in the end say they can only do ADSL2+ and a dish for foxtel (I don’t want foxtel but it’s part of the story to make them keener to connect the HFC)

        • Noddy are you calling Turnbull (most appropriate name) and Abbott liars, after all if it runs past your place you should now be enjoying an internet service superior to and cheaper than that expensive superceded fibre rubbish. With access to any provider and your choice of VOIP provider and Video streaming (IPTV or similar ). After all Turn-bull and Abbott and News Ltd and the shock Jocks tell us it is so so you must be lying or horror they are

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