“Really good job”:
Abbott praises Turnbull’s NBN work


news Opposition Leader Tony Abbott this week said the fact that the Australian population overwhelmingly believed long-time rival Malcolm Turnbull would be the best choice for leader of the Liberal Party indicated that Turnbull was doing “a really good job” as Shadow Communications Minister, including his ongoing attacks on Labor’s National Broadband Network project.

Polling released by Galaxy Research this week showed that 60 percent of those polled believed Turnbull would be the best choice for leader of the Federal Liberal Party, with only 29 percent believing Abbott would be the best choice and 11 percent uncommitted. However, support for Turnbull was much higher amongst Labor supporters, with 75 percent believing him to be the best choice. Amongst Coalition supporters the pair were neck and neck, with 51 percent preferring Turnbull and 45 percent preferring Abbott. The survey canvassed about 1,000 voters and is intended as a representative sample of the Australian population.

Turnbull was previously the Leader of the Opposition from September 2008 through December 2009, before he narrowly lost the leadership to Abbott. Since September 2010 he has served as Shadow Communications Minister, attempting to hold Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and flagship Labor initiatives such as the NBN to account.

This week Abbott was asked to respond to the polling in a doorstop interview in Canberra (the full transcription is available online). “I think that Malcolm is doing a really good job as the Shadow Minister for Communications,” Abbott said, “and the fact that more and more people are realising that the National Broadband Network is the wrong way to go about giving Australians faster and more affordable broadband is in large measure a testimony to his effectiveness in prosecuting that case.”

Since his appointment to lead the communications portfolio for the Coalition, Turnbull has regularly attacked the NBN project on a number of issues ranging from the speed of its rollout, to the management performance and credentials of NBN Co’s executive team, to the fundamental technology underpinning the network infrastructure rollout, the competitive outcomes expected to result in the telecommunications industry from the NBN and a host of other issues.

However, polling over that time has consistently shown that the Australian population continues to support the project. The latest research was conducted by Essential Media in September. It found that 43 percent of Australians felt the Labor Federal Government had made a good decision in pursuing the NBN project, with 28 percent believing it had been a bad decision. 22 percent said the decision was neither bad not good, while seven percent didn’t know. And a number of other polls conducted by Essential over the past year have found similar results.

A similar study conducted in October by the Swinburne University of Technology asked those surveyed to respond to the following question: ‘Do you think the development of the National Broadband Network is a good idea?’ According to the report, 35 percent strongly agreed with the proposition, and 32 percent agreed. Some 13 percent sat in the middle with an answer of ‘neither’, while 13 percent disagreed, and 7 percent strongly disagreed. An independent report commissioned by the Federal Government and delivered in May found that rural and regional Australian communities were strongly committed to the NBN project, with a focus on maximising the potential of the infrastructure when it arrives in their area.

Turnbull’s vision for the future of the NBN, should the Coalition win the next Federal Election, would see the Coalition ask the Productivity Commission to investigate the best way in which next-generation broadband should be rolled out to Australians. It is then likely that the Coalition would modify the NBN rollout to focus on fibre to the node instead of fibre to the home technology, as well as stopping the closure of the HFC cable networks operated by Telstra and Optus, and using satellite and wireless technologies to serve rural areas.

However, much of the policy detail has not yet been disclosed, and it remains unclear whether Turnbull’s vision is fully supported by the Shadow Cabinet, with several senior Coalition politicians expressing views of broadband policy that may diverge from Turnbull’s vision – such as Abbott’s statement last week that Australia’s broadband situation was best addressed by the competitive market. In addition, The Australian newspaper has reported that there is “widespread” concern within Liberal Party ranks about how effectively Turnbull has made the case against the NBN, with some reportedly believing that Turnbull’s policy platform was too close to Labor’s own vision.

Does Tony Abbott really believe that Malcolm Turnbull is doing a “really good job” in the Communications portfolio? I’m not sure, to be honest. However, I suspect that Abbott doesn’t follow events in the portfolio closely enough to really be able to judge whether Turnbull is having an impact on the National Broadband Network debate and the public’s perception of the NBN or not. Abbott usually appears to completely ignore the portfolio, and at times his understanding of Coalition broadband policy appears to be quite out of date.

I interpret his statement this week about Turnbull’s performance as being a basic attempt to divert attention from the fact that the Australian population has long preferred Turnbull as the leader of the Liberal Party over Abbott. I can’t tell you how many people, when they find out I report on Turnbull a fair bit because of his position, immediately tell me that no matter how they usually vote, they would vote for the Coalition in the next Federal Election if Turnbull was its leader again. That fact hasn’t gone away, and both Abbott and Turnbull are painfully aware of it. The fact of the matter is that, especially against Labor led by Julia Gillard, a Turnbull-led Coalition would win the next Federal Election pretty handily. I’ve long believed it is only a matter of time before Abbott stumbles one too many times and the Liberal Party is forced to turn back to Turnbull to keep its election hopes alive.


    • I agree. To quote Sir Humphrey Appleby, “After all, it is necessary to get behind someone before you can stab them in the back.” How can Abbott say that Turnbull is doing a “really good job” when he continues to contradict Turnbull at every opportunity? Either Abbott is completely in the dark as to what Turnbull is trying to put forward as Liberal Party policy on broadband (a level of ignorance which is unacceptable in a party leader), or he’s preparing for a preemptive knifing (i.e. neutralising Mal before he becomes too much of a threat).

      • I think you will find that Abbott hasn’t a clue what MT is doing, nor what the world is doing. I think he will really need to sell his @ss he he ever does want to become PM.

        • When I see Tony making comments like:

          Abbott said, “and the fact that more and more people are realising that the National Broadband Network is the wrong way to go about giving Australians faster and more affordable broadband is in large measure a testimony to his effectiveness in prosecuting that case.”

          I suspect he’s had a lobotomy or something…the usual /facepalm or wtf?? just doesn’t cut it with him any more, the mans on another planet…

          • Tinman, you too think Abbott has a habit in his love affair with his icepick too? Maybe he should listen to his own advice and just say NO!
            One day he is going to go that one labotomy too far and he’ll become a jibbering mess.
            Ohh! My goodness! Has it happened already and why Malcolm is the front media man now and Tony has retreated?

  1. There won’t be any fttn, remember? The nbn is to be “paused”, albeit , canceled.

  2. To be honest, I’d have to agree with Abbott …. if the sentence looks like this ….

    “I think Turnbull is doing a really good job, considering the position he’s in.”

    Turnbull, for all his rhetoric, has done better in this portfolio as Shadow Minister than any of the others (you can’t really include Tony Smith, I regard him as a sock puppet for his brief oversight of the portfolio, and Minchin flailed around a lot trying to tread water).

    Turnbull’s gymnastics of maintaining a flexible position (because he needs to unless he wants to paint himself into a corner like Abbott and Hockey do regularly on the NBN) are admirable for a politician. He’s not turning lemon into lemonade at this point, but he’s still maintaining enough grey in his statements for a bit of wriggle room …. very statesman, and very political.

    Would Abbott do a simlar job in such a position?

    Nobody needs to answer that one by the way (once you stop laughing), the questioni is rhetorical, we all know the answer, and it involves a sword and gravity ….. Abbott will provide the running leap from a high place.

  3. You really have to take into consideration the low standards the coalition are notorious for. Consider that in 2012 they still favor a redundant FttN plan that they basically had 3 years ago. So of course in Abbotts view Turnbull would be doing a “really good job”. However personally I think Turnbull is doing a great job convincing people that FttH is the right way forward. His investments speak much louder than his words will ever do…

  4. All smoke and mirrors, there will not be an nbn. It will be “paused”, canceled. Why is no one taking note of that?

  5. Turnbull is doing a “good job” of taking the Coonan era OPEL option and running with it?

    No, I think he’s doing a “great job” of that. He’s managed to keep the “dream” of 20th century technology alive, and indeed bringing it forward to the 21st.

    I’d like to believe the Member for Wentworth is actually a closet NBN fan (it’s okay, Malcolm, your secret is safe with us — you are among friends) however the reality is that he has a party line to maintain.

    Being the Leader of the Opposition might allow some degree of stance change, but the L/NP seem content to go into the next election on the basis that they are obviously chosen by a higher power to lead, and thus it’s a forgone conclusion.

    They have invested so much into destroying the NBN, I cannot see how the could possible change policies, without the far-right banshees calling for blood right, and a leadership spill.

    Long gone are the days where politicians lived and died by policy. Now? Soundbites and douchbaggery.

    • Heh heh, pretty much.

      Or you could say … a really good job is not committing to anything concrete before the policy is announced, or even better, not commit to anything until after the election.

      Anything concrete beforehand simply gives something for people to pin their hopes on (or against) and starts polarising voters ahead of time. We can’t have that in Opposition can we? Every voter has to be negotiable right up until polling day.

      Sorry to sound like devil’s advocate here Mike, I’m not meaning to be, just trying to think like a politician (and probably doing a poor job at that). I actually think that not releasing a costed alternative is doing more harm than good for the Coalition because we can see the Labor alternaitve, and the Coalition has nothing. That, effectively, in army terms …. makes them a “gunner” …..

      “I’m gunner do this …. I’m gunner do that …..” until they get into power and figure out exactly how, and what, they’re “gunner” do.

    • An uncosted bullshit policy is the trademark of Liberal success. I’m so proud of of the job Malcolm is doing misleading the Australian public.

      *joins slow clap*

      • And Labor never released un-costed policies whilst they were in Opposition …yeah …

        Let’s leave the BS to the politicians please.

        • @Corsair

          Of course- but when they go INTO DETAIL on an opposing policy (as supposedly Turnbull has) they follow it with a costing.

          This Coalition has lots of opposing policies- namely opposing everything. But NONE of them are costed. None. At all. I’ve never seen another opposition do that.

  6. The “really good job”, is diverting attention away from the reality of the Nbn being “paused”.

  7. Now waiting for Turnbull to reciprocate by saying “I think that Tony is doing a really good job as the Leader of the Opposition and alternative Prime Minister of Australia”… at which point levitating pork chops will be reported all around the country. :)

  8. Challange him Turnbull and then say the NBN will be kept as it is if Liberal wil the next election… Dreaming I know but hey if you want to win the election, just say those words! :)

  9. To paraphrase:

    “Turnbull is a great guy. Eh fights the NBN and doesn’t afraid of anything.” — Tony Abbott

    “Carbon tax will cause bare-feet women in the kitchen everywhere to complain about the cost of ironing!” — Tony Abbott

    “.. the carbon tax will wipe Whyalla off the map!” — Tony Abbott

    I’m not yet convinced Tony is a particularly reliable source of information.

      • The more I hear from Tony, the more I’d like to see him have to take a psych evaluation before ever being let into a position of power such as being prime minister.

  10. Hmmm…

    Is this the first real sign that Tony is expecting the inevitable leadership challenge and when defeated, thus fishing for a shadow/Ministerial position in a Turnbull led opposition/government?

    What about Tony Abbott Deputy PM…?

    • “What about Tony Abbott Deputy PM…?” — oh, Dear Lord. Leave him in charge when MT’s off sunbaking with Pres Obama?

      We’ll have run out of beer, be at war with New Zealand, and Bass Strait will be on fire by the time he gets back.

    • Deputy PM is the numpty job given to the Nationals leader when the Coalition is in Government, so that they feel included.

  11. If Abbot thinksMT is doing such a good job explaining their NBN alternative, maybe he should get him to explain why his Direct Action plan is better than Labor’s ETS too – oh wait, MT keeps saying the opposite.

    • Well duh Malcolm!

      Of course that is how the pirate sector would do it to maximise profit etc, but this is a national project to benefit the country, not to line shareholder pockets with cash!


  12. One of the more interesting parts of the poll is the vast difference in opinions between LNP and ALP voters on Turnbull.

    Given that the conservatives elect their leader it is not so surprising that Abott is still leader but would be interesting to see how many would defect if Turnbull was leader or is it just a thought bubble. How much of a difference would it make to swing voters.

    • One of the problems with how those polls are usually reported, is that they don’t usually tell us who is popular with the ‘undecided’ voters, which is a shame. I expect they would fall somewhere between the major parties so around 50% for MT?

  13. I take comfort in the fact that only 51% of the Coalition believe Turnbull would be a better leader. Labor would find it very hard to win the election if MT took over the reins. Let’s hope Abbott stays where he is so we can beat him! As for his comment about MT doing a good job in his portfolio, what would he know? He doesn’t understand the portfolio, has no interest in it and wouldn’t know ‘peak speed’ if it bit him in the bum (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4nuELIPh3E).

  14. Tony, now floundering with his just say no spiel, realises, too late, that a contradictory person with a brain is preferred to a clapping monkey toy… no relevance whatsoever to the tins with a string that Tony uses with his chief tech advisor, the parrot…

  15. Coalition policy is to “finish the job”

    By definition, if they stop rolling it out, it is finished.

  16. Turnbull’s vision for the future of the NBN, should the Coalition win the next Federal Election, would see the Coalition ask the Productivity Commission to investigate the best way in which next-generation broadband should be rolled out to Australians.

    ^ so to vote liberal means you’ll get the NBN halted for 3 years while they discuss a inferior FTTN model which is not future proof. In other words vote liberal and as far as NBN goes you’ll get NOTHING !

  17. A really good job for Shadow Communications Minister would have been adopting the all-fibre NBN and not spending eight destructive months at taxpayer expense causing late night and additional parliamentary sitting days to delay its enabling legislation.

    Conservative voters in regional Australia voted cross bench – some even voted Labor – when Tony Abbott trumpeted his more-of-the-same-neglect-and-no-Telstra-separation broadband policy. A widely despised Labor party eventually formed a minority government, when everyone including Julia Gillard expected her to be delivering a speech conceding defeat by about 7pm on election night.

    Now that Kiama and Willunga have proven that the regional wholesale revenues will be massively bigger than forecast, there is no doubt that technologically, economically, environmentally and aesthetically, FTTH trumps FTTN for Australian towns and cities.

    Any Shadow Communications Minister doing his job would have made the NBN his party’s policy long before this. Ignorance of technology by Tony Abbott does not justify the damaging actions of Malcolm Turnbull, which are hurting regional Australia and the coalition prospects for 2013.

    • No. A Minister has to follow the policies set out by their party.
      A really good Minister makes those policies work and make sense.
      In the face of the NBN and Conroy, Turnbull has been doing a much better job than the rest of his party combined in trying to combine the “NO” rhetoric and the FTTP model of the NBN.

  18. The questions that need to be asked: Is Malcolm Turnbull’s broadband policy really the same as the agreed Coalition broadband policy? If Malcolm Turnbull was not communications minister, would the large volume of thinking he has applied to broadband be adopted by whoever was?

      • +100

        Interesting comments when taken in conjunction with the Coalitions NBN policies, suspect their intent is FTTH in business and commercial precincts, must support the bricks and mortar Lib supporters.
        Look at the Bris South and Velocity plans, forced to buy “Business plans”
        Any start ups or small to medium business will be forced to rent in those precincts for better broadband. No Choice, effective gun to their heads.
        Look after their mates in real estate, also why inferior Rural and Regional broadband, must push up Metro real estate values by denying the opportunity to decentralise

Comments are closed.