Coalition concerned Turnbull too close to NBN


blog Since he was appointed as Shadow Communications Minister in late 2010, Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull has appeared to increasingly adopt the policy aims and even some of the implementation details of Labor’s flagship NBN policy. From his vow to ‘complete the NBN objective’ to his commitment to the separation of Telstra and even maintaining NBN Co as a government-owned concern, many have commented that the Coalition’s NBN policy is increasingly looking like … well, Labor’s. The idea has been aided by persistent industry suspicions that Turnbull is secretly in favour of the NBN.

However, The Australian newspaper reported last month (we recommend you click here for the full article), this might end up working against Turnbull in the long run:

“A range of sources expressed concern about how effectively Mr Turnbull was making the case against the NBN, which was a significant drawcard for Labor at the 2010 election. “There is a widespread concern that Malcolm is far too close to the Labor policy,” said one MP.”

Personally, I suspect Turnbull has provisional Shadow Cabinet approval for some aspects of what he has presented as the Coalition’s rival NBN policy, but not all; I suspect that the Earl of Wentworth has very much gone out on a limb with respect to some of his statements regarding it, and that some of the more conservative elements of the Liberal Party would not be in favour of some of Turnbull’s pseudo-policy pronouncements. In contrast, I suspect that many National Party politicians are actually quite heavily in favour of the NBN, given how strongly it supports rural and regional residents. It will be fascinating to see, come the next Federal Election, how much of Turnbull’s NBN pronouncements actually survive to make formal Coalition policy.

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. As I said before, I don’t believe that Turnbull himself is in favour of FTTN and that what he’s doing is a smokescreen – either with a hidden agenda or the motivation of falling across the line and then working out what to actually do.

    I think what’s really upset his colleagues is in appearing to support the model of a GBE. Ultimately if the Liberals win, the fate of the NBN rests in the conflict between political expediency (just letting the NBN roll on) and internal ideological conflicts in the Liberal Party.

    As I said before, the worst possible outcome politically for the Liberals is to actually attempt to implement FTTN under a GBE.. that would be owning the shambles that would follow.

    Personally I think that so long as they can engineer a solution where NBNco is privatised, their ideology will win over.

    • “As I said before, I don’t believe that Turnbull himself is in favour of FTTN and that what he’s doing is a smokescreen – either with a hidden agenda or the motivation of falling across the line and then working out what to actually do.”

      So how does a gratuitous attack on Mike Quigley promote that position? He could have said nothing.

  2. ive wondered about the nats for a while – there are regional and remote communities queueing up for the thing – to the point of building their own fibre runs now. they see it as THAT important; that any mere suggestion a community is going to be in the 7% is the cause for lobbying to NBNco or MPs to immediately ensure they be added to the 93!

    to be quite blunt ive wondered if it may be that Malcolm doesnt want to release his policy because of what Conroy will do with it or the punditry or the public in general. its what his nats are going to do to him once they see the shit end of the stick he has for them in his policy. compared to NBN. and compared to what will be on offer to Metro Australia, well.. VDSL seems really illsuited to regional networks, i grew up somewhat east of Renai but still pretty west; while ok for towns i suspect a 600m-1Kradius reduces its utility at the fringes of them, which can be pretty spotty. what coalition policy will mean for such areas is something i would like to know.

    if there are problems with the haves and have less in the NBNco 93/4/3% breakdown, i reckon there will be far more of a divide under copper policies, given its problems and caveats. say its something like a 60/40 divide – at that point its a hell of a lot more people getting the wrong end than 7%. that could rebound in all sorts of ways. id be looking for a better policy too…

    and coming to that im completely unsurprised at the idea of the reactionary wing of the Lberals looking askance – at Malcolm of all people! – concerned his policy doesnt pass the purity test.(!) its not going to be easy for him getting to the next election if he doesnt just have to deal with Conroy but the Party as well….. in any case i’m watching with great interest.

    • You are spot on about VDSL being totally unsuited for rural areas. When the Government was tendering for NBN mark 1 (FTTN with minimum speeds to 96% of the population). There was some analysis done by PIPE Networks which showed to reach that level of penetration you would end up with FTTN nodes with only one customer hanging off it.

      • Malcolm hasn’t exactly being making that clear. Is allowance for this number of nodes been included in his fully costed figure?

        • But he hasn’t got a fully costed figure. Despite having one five weeks ago.

          The Optus bid on NBN Mark 1 was for 75,224 nodes, for about 75% coverage. You’d probably need at least 85,000 to bring it up to 93%.

          And he still can’t guarantee speeds.

  3. The Coalition approached this issue in entirely the wrong way. Their starting position was ‘The NBN is a bad idea’. The right approach would have been ‘Labor are the wrong people to build the NBN’.

    This has not only demonstrated the negativity which Abbott’s leadership is renowned for, but a lack of subtle and strategic thinking. The NBN should always have been a bipartisan policy. Instead it is a huge credit for Labor, and a huge liability for the Coalition.

    • The NBN conflicts with the liberal party ideology however, so there’s no way they could have supported it anyway.

      • Indeed. I am witnessing just how damaging it is to put an ideology before reality.

  4. If anything, this raises more doubts that if the Libs are elected, we may not even get a FTTN NBN.

    • Well, that depends entirely on how much of a bribe the Coalition are willing to pay private enterprise to build it.

      We know Telstra wanted to build it, but only if they were given a “regulatory holiday”, and able to lock out their competitors. Would anyone else want to build it?

      • “We know Telstra wanted to build it” You better qualify that. They want to be paid to build it. I doubt they would use their own money on such a deadend technology. As was said back in 2007. They will build it if paid then use the money they are paid to roll out FTTH in cherry picked areas. Hell they have been paid enough to just do that now. $11bn would easily roll out fibre for the capitals.

  5. I agree, perhaps Turnbull should lead the Nationals ? and separate from the Liberals ?

    This is the only way that Turnbull could lead a party ever again.

    • Yes typical Coalition attitude. We will get the existing telcos to do the role out and because they are not Government related they will do it quicker and cheaper.

      Bull crap! NZ are forking out about $1 billion of taxpayers money which they aren’t going to get back. If you extrapolate that to Australia it is equivalent to about $10 billion. The NBN is going to cost the Australian taxpayer $0 and the money lent will be paid back with interest.

      Ahhhhh!!!! What can you expect from this negative Coalition?

    • …………………./´¯/)
      ……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
      ……….”…\………. _.·´

  6. The Nats sold out their country members/votes years ago, they just do a little song and dance about a “country” issue every now and then to get “We care about the bush” headlines…

  7. Politics is just bizarre to me.

    if the quote is to be believed, Turnbull is seen as doing an effective job, and the party is worried about it? The Coalition wants to differentiate themselves that badly from the Labor party that they’ll throw close alternatives on the fire because they can’t put their stamp on it, and the rest of Australia can go hang?

    Sadly, this reinforces the cliche that politicians are there for their party first, themselves second (or is it the other way round?), and the Australian public, dead last.

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