Alan Jones slams Turnbull’s NBN performance


news Alan Jones has attacked the performance of Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in holding Labor’s National Broadband Network project to account, with the shockjock commentator attempting to use a variety of inaccurate statements about the NBN to demonstrate that Turnbull is avoiding the issue and “plotting” against Liberal leader Tony Abbott instead.

In a segment broadcast on Sydney’s 2GB radio station last week (the audio is available online here), Jones repeated an number of criticisms he has previously made about the NBN, claiming that the project is “hopelessly behind scheduled and hopelessly over budget”, that its underlying fibre technology would be “obsolete” before it was build due to the future of telecommunications being “wireless” technology, and that the NBN’s capital funding should be allocated as budget expense rather than as an investment which will eventually make a return.

It’s not the first time Jones has made such claims with respect to the NBN. In late October Jones aired a similar segment, containing similarly inaccurate statements. Analysis has shown that the shockjock’s views on the NBN are primarily inaccurate; especially with relation to his comments about the future of telecommunications being based on wireless (industry commentators agree both wireless and fixed networks will be, and are, needed), the idea that fibre will be obsolete by the time the NBN is built (it will not be), and the idea that the NBN’s funding should be accounted for in the Federal Budget as an expense (accounting standards show it should be accounted for as a capital investment, as it currently is).

However, in last week’s segment, Jones went further, linking what he said was a failure by Turnbull to comment on the issue to a potential attempt to re-take the Liberal leadership from current Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who narrowly bested Turnbull to lead the party from December 2009.

Jones highlighted the fact that Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham had probed NBN Co’s management during recent Senate Estimates sessions about company expenses such as money spent on consultants, taxi fares and public transport, and legal and office fit-out costs. “Turnbull should have asked the question … but Simon Birmingham asked,” Jones said.

The shockjock stated that Birmingham had done “a fabulous job” on broadband, “not Malcolm Turnbull, who’s the Minister.” Jones claimed that Australians “hardly heard a squeak” out of Turnbull. “Perhaps Malcolm Turnbull thinks if he takes the win out of the sails of the government on the NBN issue, it might help Tony Abbott win Government,” Jones added; appearing to imply that Turnbull would rather he won power for the Coalition as leader.

Later in the segment, Jones interviewed telecommunications consultant Kevin Morgan, a regular heavy critic of the NBN. Morgan claimed that the rollout of the NBN’s fibre network would put lives at risk, due to the fact that a number of services such as medical alarms, traffic lights and burglar alarms depended on Telstra’s current copper network. Morgan claimed that NBN Co had not done enough in the area of battery backup support for the NBN’s optic fibre, to ensure that such services would remain available in the event of power failures. “People’s lives are going to be put at risk by this policy,” he claimed.

“Why doesn’t Mr Turnbull make these points?” asked Jones. Morgan replied: “He’s plodding away,” to which Jones replied: “Plodding or plotting? Two t’s.”

Jones’ comments come just days after polling released by Galaxy Research showed that showed that 60 percent of Australians 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.

Last week Abbott was asked to respond to the polling in a doorstop interview in Canberra. “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.”

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.

Perhaps the most unorthodox part of Jones’ interview with Morgan was the telecommunications consultant’s comparison of the NBN project to the Tanganyika Groundnut Scheme promulgated by the British Labour Government in the 1940’s in East Africa. The project was intended to develop the region’s agriculture potential but failed. “If you go out into the bush in Southern Africa, now Tanzania, you’ll find all these rusting tractors, all this junk from this project,” Morgan told Jones. And then, with reference to the NBN: “You’re going to have fibre hanging off power poles, incomplete sections of this network. The Labor Government, if they’re returned, will have to revisit this, have to say this is nonsense.”

“Well if you know this, why doesn’t Turnbull say it?” replied Jones.

Image credit: Jeremy Buckingham, Creative Commons


  1. LOL point:

    “Jones highlighted the fact that Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham had probed NBN Co’s management during recent Senate Estimates sessions about company expenses such as money spent on consultants, taxi fares and public transport, and legal and office fit-out costs. “Turnbull should have asked the question … but Simon Birmingham asked,” Jones said.”

    Alan does realise that Malcolm is in the lower house, right? As such, he’s not going to be in a Senate estimates hearing…right?

      • Senate estimates are for the senate. There is a joint committee – (reps and senate) – for the National Broadband Network. Birmingham is on that committee, and sits on the relevant senate committee. Turnbull – (obviously) – is only on the joint committee.

        Either Jones doesn’t know which committee meeting he was commenting on, or Jones is helping out his buddy Tony Abbott, since Tony can’t be seen publicly slamming Turnbull.

        Either is equally likely.

        • ‘… there are two houses in parliament? But there’s only one Parliament House! Typical Canberra out of touch liberals, shamelessly featherbedding Parliament with a proportional representation “upper house”. They should all be put in a chaff bag… [etc]’

          With everything else his listeners forgive him, having no clue about the organisation of Parliament is fairly small beans.

  2. Clearly his trip to journalism school has paid dividends. No really, money well spent right there.

  3. Awww Alan loves Tony.

    Poor Alan, it must be tough because Abbott can’t return the affection that Jones has for him.

  4. yeah Turnbull is doing a terrible job with the NBN (so are all the coalition clowns) but why is Jones highlighting it? One wonders…

    • All the Abbott zombies hate Turnbull. It’s a thing.

      I’m sure their tune would change if Turnbull were to beat Gillard in 2013, but they’ve not worked that out yet.

      • No doubt Turnbull would make a better leader than Abbott the problem is the coalition expect voters to adapt to them. You’ll take Abbott and like it.

        • And Australia will suddenly drop off the Obesity List due to most people not being able to hold food in their stomach at that situation. Have to say, we would suddenly appear on another list for Anorexia Nervosa with a spiraling mortality rate.

    • My personal opinion (and have no evidence to back it up, just a feeling) is that Alan Jones feels that Abbott is the only person to lead the Liberals/the Nation and that Malcolm is becoming a big enough threat to that to warrant an attack on him. The fact he can attack the NBN at the same time is just a bonus for Alan.

  5. slander   /ˈslændər/ Show Spelled[slan-der]
    1. defamation; calumny: rumors full of slander.
    2. a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report: a slander against his good name.
    3. Law . defamation by oral utterance rather than by writing, pictures, etc.

    isnt it against the law to publically spread false statements about someone or a project.?

    people are listening and actually believing this loud mouthed fool. shouldnt he be stopped for the good of the people. ?

        • I’d rather the head. He is an incorrigible waste of oxygen. Wonder what happened to the complaint I filed with 2GB a few weeks ago regarding Alan Jones and his BS.

          • They are going to ignore it.

            And hope you forget about it by the time the mandated reply time is up.

    • Sadly, if he is as stupid as he represents himself to be, he has a defence:

      Honest opinion: The defence of honest opinion requires; the defamatory materials to be a subject matter of public interest, a comment rather than a statement of fact which is based on true or privileged statements of facts and, fairness in the sense of being made honestly by a person who did not believe the statements to be untrue and was not otherwise actuated by malice. however, this defence cannot be defeated only on the basis of malice, ill will or spite, provided those opinions are honestly made. The defence does not require that the comment be reasonable. If the opinion is honestly held, it may be exaggerated or prejudices or accompanied by malice.

  6. Anyone curious as to whether a leadership challenge is on now has all the evidence required :)

    • Hope so, I’d love to see Turnbull get into the big seat and see what his real thoughts are on the NBN.

  7. I have to say it, what complete bullshit, I can’t believe that people even listen to Alan.

    • Jones has at least 10,000 dedicated listeners, as well as their unfortunate passengers, most of whom don’t realise that it is the passenger who gets to chose the station in the taxi.

      • Like recording companies who make songs for teenage girls, Jones aims at an audience. Many who mirror him in all facets – age, creed, politics etc… as such love him, because he simply concretes their bigotry.

        Thankfully they are very much a minority and in the bigger picture, totally inconsequential :)

  8. I hope someone with a degree of technical ability and/or qualification is going to make a written complaint to 2GB, wait 60 days for a response, and if the response is inadequate or no response received at all (common practice for 2GB), they will then carry forward the complaints process to the Australian Communications & Media Association. Now, that would be a good thing in my book.

    This is what needs to happen each & every time Mr Alan Jones distorts the truth or tells outright porkies. Mr Jones is obliged, due to recent findings/recommendations by the ACMA to comment with factual accuracy. Factual accuracy is now a condition of licensing & it should be at the forefront of both Mr Jones’ & 2GB’s mind, otherwise he/they might find themselves in even deeper trouble than they already are.

    Keep up the great work regarding letting the public know about Mr Jones’ indiscretions & virulent misinformation campaign, both on the NBN & many other topics he chooses to bias/lie about in order to mislead his listeners.

    • We already know that the owners of Main Stream Media have credibility issues and they have yet to realize it, due to the irrational belief that they could never be wrong as God has made them to rule. So if you think anything pointing to their error will gain any traction, then you will need to move to the Universe of the Atomic Banana where it seems strange things like that might occur.

  9. can anyone say Tony abbot is trying to oust Malcolm Turnbull, and is loading him up via third parties?

  10. Malcolm will be pleased. If Jones is bagging him, he must not be mentally and intellectually destabilized as Jones is. The fact Jones supports Abbott says it all.

  11. obviously AJ still hasn’t completed his course in fact checking as ordered by the Broadcasting Authority.
    Because if he has, clearly he has failed.

    • Obviously the ABA (I though it was the ACMA) doesn’t care anymore since the original hullabaloo died down. That is obvious, as he is still doing his “thing” regardless of the ruling that was handed down.
      *sigh* When your rich, you can buy your own Justice obviously.

  12. This isnt good. The only (What seemed like) Common Sense on the opposite side of the fence, Malcom Turnbull – may be being targetted by the ultra / conservative right.

    Its likely that if they do target him, since Turnbull isnt conservative; that he’ll be ousted before the next election OR the leadership will be up for grabs.

    We need turnbull to keep Conroy in line, currently hes doing an excellent job of that.

    Here’s hoping that the conservative right arent trying to off turnbull before theres a spill.

    • It seems like the far right in Australian politics haven’t learned anything from Romney’s defeat in the US. I’m sure they spend their time reading / listening to political commentators that have lots of positive things to say about Abbott, and probably have the same issues with polling that the US Republicans had (i.e. they refuse to believe anything that tells them a story they don’t like).

      To be elected opposition leader, Turnbull either has to neutralise the nutters, or persuade them that he’s just as much of a nutter as they are. Romney went for the latter, and it cost him the wider election. I wonder what the LNP will do here?

    • I presume you were referring to the allusion of monkeys. Although, to mixture the metaphors, aphorisms it would apply to something about “dogs”, lying down” and “fleas”

    • Who is that peanut? Perfect guest for Alan Jones, he shares a tenuous grasp of facts, particularly around Wireless and Satellite versions of NBN, voice and battery back-ups.

  13. jones attacking turnbull …. the QLD LNP trying to get rid of Clive Palmer..

    good times… good times

    • Now AJ wouldn’t be vindictively attacking Turnbull in retaliation for Malcolm’s condemnation of AJ’s gaff about the PMs dead father by any chance?

    • I think ACMA might have a view on that – oh, right, AJ is already under censure for “checking his own facts”.

  14. Why does Alan Jones get so much air time? He consistantly exaggerates / falsifies / does not fact check and yet people report on what he says. This only gives him added validity and the illusion of more prominence that what he already has.

    I am getting sick of so much focus on what Alan Jones is saying. He is not in parliament to have influence to adjust policy nor does he have specialist expertise on the NBN. Why bother?

    • I guess because he appeals to the lowest common denominators in society. Bigots, racists, elderly conservatives, hard right nutcases, people that hate politicians in general, and a whole heap of uninformed, angry, bogans. Going by his callers; people with no brain, no respect, and no understanding of how the world works.

      Its scary that there’s a large enough audience of these idiots for Alan to still have a job. I was hoping the scandal with his comments about the PM’s father would be the end of him. It seems to have lost his employer a few advertisers, but in the process gotten Alan more exposure.

      Alan, just please hurry up and peacefully pass.. away wind.

  15. Renai alerted us to the prospect of Turnbull having a tilt at the top job some months ago. Alan (“I’m Alan Jones”) Jones wakes up to it all these months later. Way to go, Jones!

    To paraphrase a famous line: “Poor Alan. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver bullet in his brain.”

  16. When’s Alan going to publish his journalistic research that went into this story? And who on Earth is this Morgan fellow who thinks he’s an “expert”?

    • Kevin Morgan is a sad-sounding former ACTU representative on comms issues. His bitter assaults on anything to do with NBN are fairly regular features in News Ltd stuff.

      His attacks on NBN are so extreme that I recall somebody suggesting he might have failed to get a gig with NBN Co and he seems to be constantly seeking revenge for that, or something, ever since.

    • The only notoriety I can recall from Mr. Morgan is him writing NBN bashing columns for the Australian as a “comms analyst” and way back in the Sol days, “always” supporting absolutely everything Telstra ever did and said.

      Iirc… when Telstra’s competitors suggested they’d like a chance to build a national comms network too and Phil B and Sol T scoffed saying Telstra were the only company capable, Kevin Morgan cheerfully agreed wholeheartedly with the amigos.

      Since then KM has bagged the NBN and Mike Quigley at every opportunity… Seems he doesn’t want NBNCo to prove him wrong or he wants Quigley’s job :0

      Perhaps a Morgan/Ergas (or Ergas/Morgan – no fighting over who’s names first lads) led team for the Coalition’s new company – TSNSBSNS…

      “Telstra Subsidy National Subsidy Broadband Subsidy Network Subsidy Co”.

      No sorry, this isn’t evidence based Renai, just my possibly/possibly not, facetious opinion.

      Ooh, dId I mention the “subsidies”?

  17. Hey Delimiter,

    I would appreciate it if you could include avenues for people to make complaints to both 2UE and the AMCA in these articles about Alan Jones.

    Or if its rhetoric from Tony Abbott or Joe Hockey talking dribble give the audience their contact details too. We really need to get people involved directly in complaining rather than just bitching in the comments section here.

    Perhaps ask people to write their letters so other people can see what is being written?


    • You may also add the option to complain about Delimiter’s inaccuracies and bias. For there are many.

      If you have a problem with Alan Jones can I suggest you became radio announcers and do a better job. It is always easier to throw stones from the sideline. Man up and do something about it you keyboard cowards, sorry I meant keyboard “warriors”.

      • Good to see you around gunmen, you always bring a smile to my face thanks to your total bias. Much needed some mornings.

        Here, I particularly like how you tell people to “Man up and do something about it”, particularly when you’re responding to someone who is asking for direction to actually do something about it, through official channels.

        Harden up princess, you’re in the minority on this subject and its about time you got used to the fact.

        • “You’re in the minorty”

          Not just a minority, but a brave lone gunman, fighting the war against facts.

    • “Perhaps ask people to write their letters *in the comments section* so other people can see what is being written?”

      I woke up WAAAY too early today. :-/

      As for Mr Gunman’s dribble, would you like to back up your statement of inaccuracies and bias with some evidence or are you just dribbling on for the sake of being a troll? If you were that concerned about inaccuracies and bias then I am sure you would be up in arms with almost everything that the Liberals/Alan Jones say about the NBN.

  18. Kevin Morgan’s comments on traffic lights is incorrect.
    In Australia the majority are already connected via an IP network and as such could be connected to the NBN.

    The traffic lights can operate without any saftey issues if the communications fail for any reason. The communications allows the lights to be coordinated with other lights for efficency, not for saftey reasons.

  19. Alan who?

    This person is irrelevant; who cares what he thinks. By the next election Malcolm Turnbull is likely to be leading the Liberal Party again (well, for Australia’s sake, I hope so!).


  20. Wow.

    Did not know that if a traffic light loses power and runs out of battery it will not be able to communicate on the NBN.
    So different from now..

  21. Still has be beat why Jones still sprukes on about wireless and fibre being obsolete before the NBN is complete.
    There are a huge range of issues that NBN Co could be attacked on that are based on reality.
    Of course that would require a smattering of knowledge on the subject, a minimal amount of investigation and a honest attempt to discuss and inform.

    Jones is just keeps deomonstating that he is unable to do any of these. Perhaps Kyle Sanderlands should take over his show as he displays much more professionalism.

    • “Perhaps Kyle Sanderlands should take over his show as he displays much more professionalism.”

      Good idea, but I’m thinking a wombat from Taronga Zoo might be a better choice than Sanderlands. Both of equal IQ, but you can rest assured the wombat would display more professionalism.

      • No wonder several species of wombat are endangered, they are dieing from shame that they are being compared to Kyle :(

  22. Alan Jones is a cretin, but then again you’re not much of a journalist, either. Spellchecker is a good start. Using respectably neutral language is another. This is the sort of crap writing I’d expect to see on an idiot lefty uni student’s pamphlet. Don’t get up; I’ll find my own way out.

    • Bye! Thanks for dropping in and using such “respectable language”. I think I speak for everyone here when I say you’ll be deeply missed.

  23. As carer for 2 elderly people who both are reliant on medical alarms, I have been following the NBN development with serious misgivings. It’s been known from the NBN’s early days that the system being rolled out will only support existing alarms if the ISP offers a particular port, which is not mandatory for them to do, and some people may live in areas where noone does so they can’t even shop around. And even if they can get one, the ISP can stop supporting it at any time. Also the optional battery backup which I understand is proposed will only last for 4 hours, which for a medical alert is not just laughable, it’s dangerous. This is also yet another expense for people who already are under financial strain from the medical reasons they have the alarm, or because they are on a pension or similar. I am far from an expert on this topic so I can only hope I have it wrong. But having followed this topic now for two years I am really concerned that the copper network will get switched off regardless and vulnerable individuals could be left without a working medical alarm.

    • Carer, I think you will find that alarms for medical purposes or otherwise will actually be better off under a data based network (as per the NBN) than otherwise.

      Contact will be immediate, rather than waiting for the copper network to dial and make a call.

      Also as far as I am aware, the batteries will be an option for people. I am sure that they will allow bigger batteries for those who feel the need for a longer life.

      Don’t be scared of the new tech, it will offer you as a carer and the person you care for many many improved medical options among other lifestyle improvements. :-)


      • Hi Jayness, thanks for the friendly reply! but unfortunately you are not right. Most alarms rely on the NBN service provider providing connection over a particular port, and as this is not mandatory for providers to do this, many of them already don’t. So people who need these alarms will either have a significantly reduced choice of provider and plans, and in some instances may even not have a provider who will do this.

        As for batteries, the ones proposed currently under the NBN will only last a few hours (just hope a blackout doesn’t start at 11pm). If you want longer ones you almost certainly will have to pay for them, I have seen nothing anywhere to say they would be subsidied whether you are more likely to have a medical emergency or not.

        I am certainly not scared of new technology – got my first computer in the late 1970s,. been programming since the early 1980s, love new tech and gadgets and will bore people silly for hours talking about them. Oh, and I managed a corporate website and associated IT for 15 years.

        But I am also very aware that most new gadgets are brilliant for most people but take an extremely long time to become equally useable by to people with disabilities, and the NBN seems to be largely being done with the same mindset – get it out now to most people, and anyone who is disadvantaged by it we’ll think about later. (Apologies to those few companies who do do better than this.)

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