NBN should be in caretaker mode, claims Turnbull


news Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for the National Broadband Network Company to stop entering into major contracts that would affect a Coalition Government, due to what Turnbull described as being a form of the traditional government ‘caretaker mode’ that keeps governments running during elections.

Historically in Australia, the so-called ‘caretaker’ mode of government occurs during a period starting when Federal Parliament is dissolved by the Governor-General before a Federal Election. It finishes after the election, when the next ministers are appointed, and sees the Government avoid making major policy decisions or undertaking projects that would see any incoming government committed to them. The period is guided by a document issued by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PDF).

However, in a radio interview yesterday on ABC Radio National (the full transcript is available online), Turnbull backed comments earlier yesterday by Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop that as Prime Minister Julia Gillard had disclosed the date of the next Federal Election as being September 14, the Federal Government should now be operating in what Bishop described as a “virtual caretaker mode”.

Turnbull said there were some areas of government activity where the issue was particularly important. “I’m just saying this is just common sense prudence, if I was the chief executive of NBN Co in these circumstances, or if I was a director of that company I would be careful and try to avoid in so far as I could entering into contracts that might be seen as in effect shackling the right of the new government,” he said.

Turnbull’s comments come as Shadow Climate Change Minister Greg Hunt has also written to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation warning the group not to make any investments prior to the election; it is slated to receive its funding on 1 July this year.

ABC Radio National Host Waleed Aly challenged Turnbull on his assertion regarding the so-called “virtual caretaker mode”, which appears to have no historical basis in Australian Government. “But you know as well as I do that all of that was true irrespective of the announcement of a date for the election there was nothing about that announcement that puts us in caretaker mode virtual or otherwise,” said Waly.

In addition, the Radio National host referred Turnbull to a major speech Turnbull made in September last year about the need for more integrity in politics. “… you gave a speech that I think was well received and widely reported and deservedly reported widely on the conduct of politics and the importance of that kind of integrity and honesty in politics … And yet here you are, it seems, defending it,” Aly said.

Turnbull’s comments are not the first time the caretaker provisions have arisen with regard to the NBN during an election campaign. In August 2010, ahead of that year’s Federal Election, NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley was strongly criticised by some, including the writer of this article, for delivering a stinging attack on the Coalition’s rival broadband policy at the time.

Just days before the Federal Election, Quigley directly attacked the Coalition’s claims at the time about the NBN project being a “white elephant”. The executive also revealed, in the days before the election, that the NBN’s fibre network would eventually be upgradable to 1Gbps speeds, in comments which were seized upon by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy as demonstrating the merits of the NBN policy over the Coalition’s policy.

Malcolm Turnbull, you should flat out be ashamed. I have lost a great deal of respect for you with your comments this week about the need for a “virtual caretaker mode” ahead of the Federal Election. Just four months ago you gave a major speech calling for more integrity in politics. I quote:

“There is almost nothing more important to good government and our nation‟s future than the quality, honesty and clarity of political discourse: how we explain policy challenges and trade-offs, and educate voters about the constraints we have to work within…how we express our position, our basis for reaching it and why it differs from that of our opponents if this is the case…how we communicate changes in policy and their implications.

Yet paradoxically, there is almost nowhere else in our national life where the incentives to be untruthful or to purposefully mislead are so great, and the adverse consequences of such behaviour so modest.

A lawyer who misrepresents the evidence will sooner or later be found out and may also be thrown out, perhaps for good. The consequences for business people who misrepresent their financial results, fail to disclose material events or make false claims about their wares can be extremely severe – plenty, some of them very well-known, have spent time in prison.”

I also note the following paragraphs:

“And while newspapers are shrinking think tanks seem to be expanding – wouldn’t it be great if some of those public intellects actually held politicians like me to account, pointing out where we had exaggerated or misled. Public fact checking would raise the quality of debate.”

Well, Mr Turnbull, consider your challenge met. Your claim that NBN Co, seven months ahead of the next Federal Election, is obligated to enter some kind of “virtual caretaker mode” are a flat out misrepresentation of the situation. Your comments represent an attempt to mislead the Australian public, and a gross exaggeration of the duty of NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley when it comes to the need to pay attention to the political process.

The facts, Mr Turnbull, are that there is in fact no law requiring that caretaker mode provisions be undertaken in our Federal Government; only custom. It is also debatable whether that custom — represented by a set of guidelines issued by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet — applies to NBN Co, and they certainly do not apply in any way, shape or form until the Governor-General dissolves Parliament, likely in about six months.

Until that stage, and likely even after it, NBN Co is under no obligation whatsoever to pay attention to the Federal Election process at all, or in fact any other political process: Until its standing orders issued by the Communications Minister of the day change that fact.

Moreover, the fact that you would attempt to use such a flimsy argument to delay and interfere with a $37 billion, decade-long national infrastructure project which is critical for Australia’s next 50 years of telecommunications usage reveals a lot about your own personal integrity. Whether or not you agree that the NBN represents good policy, it is not good practice to interfere with such an important project in this way purely to achieve your own political aims.

Welcome to the harsh new world of fact-checking, Mr Turnbull. I suggest you get used to it. We’ll be here all year.


  1. Turnbull believes that the NBN should be in caretaker mode because the less of it is built before any change of government, the harder it will be for him to stop it.

    Irrespective of the fact that caretaker mode will not be entered until August 12th, when the election writs are issued.

    No amount of bluster will change that.

    • “the less of it is built before any change of government, the harder it will be for him to stop it” — correct me if I’m wrong, but dont you mean “the easier it will be for him to stop it”?

        • But I think the existing rollout contractors are flat out meeting 2013 commitments as per the updated 2012 Coroporate Plan, they cannot ‘build more’ anyway.

          • Alain says “But I think the existing rollout contractors are flat out meeting 2013 commitments as per the updated 2012 Coroporate Plan, they cannot ‘build more’ anyway.”

            But a hell of a lot more binding contracts can/will be signed between now and early August. Which we all know what Turnbull is trying to stop. I REALLY REALLY HOPE/EXPECT NBNCo to start/sign as many contracts with associated penalties attached between now and early August. So that it makes it VERY VERY HARD to stop the NBN for many years after this years election.

            So that the LUDDITES of this world can just get out of the way and go drift off somewhere to whatever they do. And Malcolm Turnbull is getting MORE DESPERATE by the day, “virtual caretaker mode” what a joke he’s really becoming. He should challenge that in the HIGH COURT and we’ll all see what a FOOL he’d be made out to be.

          • But that’s a self defeating attitude, assuming that sort of penalty pay out exists post a Coalition win, who do think ends up paying out the penalties?

          • I’ve tried to point out in a couple of other threads that if NBN is at full rollout of 6000 premises per day, and have 3 years of contracts already signed, then we have something like 7 million properties contracted for FttP. 1 million done, 6 million to be done over those 3 years.

            If Abbott follows through on his statement to honor those contracts, then that’s roughly 70% of the population. Add in that most of the remaining 30% will be in areas that are 2nd stage from pre-existing FttP builds (contracted or finished, take your pick), then it may not even be possible to roll out FttN at any point without hitting a FttP build..

            So when does FttN become its own white elephant?

  2. Turnbull proves himself to be a weak patsy to Abbott by supporting this ‘big lie’ communication strategy. He knows that caretaker mode only kicks in — and only ever has kicked in — once writs are issued and the government dissolved.

  3. Here Here. Well said Renai.

    Malcolm should be ashamed. Political interests are his sole reason.

  4. I have respected Malcolm for a long time (back to my uni days, I was quite involved in the Republican debate) but this is my final straw with him. He’s no different from any of the other FUD-peddling deceptive half-wits in the shadow cabinet if he comes out with statements like this.

    Saddened to see him stoop so low.

    • i have to disagree.

      he is different to the other FUDster’s because he actually knows better.
      which means he is not spouting FUD out of ignorance, but out of personal gain.

      • I was like you too but all we see from his is rubbish of late. There’s only so much you can say before you start to believe it and frankly, I just see Turnball as another liberal minister being partisan playing politics

    • Toxic Tony has that effect on the ministers under him, over time they have all become relentless negative pitbulls.

  5. Just had a thought – given that NBN Co is a GBE, and Australia Post is a GBE, should Australia Post suspend all hiring, issuing of contracts, and spending between now and September 16th?

    • Greatly put Michael.
      If they go into this care taker mode and the coalition does win government, they will complain how slow the roll out was.
      I can’t stand the dribble that comes out of Malcolm Turnbull mouth!

      • Exactly, AusPost shouldn’t be allowed to renew mail van delivery contracts, supplier contracts etc etc

        ….. oh wait, that’s just F’N stupid!!!

        grow up Malcolm!!!

      • That wouldn’t be too bad. After all the politicians won’t be able to send their false promises to us then.

    • Oh, have the Libs announced new alternative policy on how Aust Post should be completely be redesigned and operated?

      What a stupid attempt at a non-analogy…

      Malcolm hasn’t even been sworn in yet, and the NBN fanbois are already foaming at the mouth… LOL

      • The election hasn’t even happened and the Coalition derp patrol is already counting their chickens.

  6. Maybe we should also stop Australia Post during the ‘Election’. That way we wont have our mailboxes filled with Election propaganda rubbish.

  7. Malcolm is starting to sound and behave more and more like Abbott a petulant school boy who didnt become head prefect last election when clearly he thinks he is entitled to.have won.

  8. Well I must say that’s jolly poor form Malcolm.

    Really stretching a bow too far sorry.

    PS: FTTN is a stop gap measure only. 30, 40, 50 billion for the NBN is cheap as chips compared with other government spending over similar periods of time for something that will transform the nations communications, something that EVERYONE benefits from.

  9. Another nail in the coffin that held my respect for Mr Turnbull.

    This really does begin to show what I’ve been saying for a long time now- the Coalition will do anything to ensure the NBN policy is a non-issue at the election. They are truly not interested in broadband and will do whatever they can to ensure they don’t have to care, including mislead the public.

    On a positive note, well done to the ABC presenter for confronting Turnbull over it. There have been far too fee journalists who are willing to ask the hard questions.

  10. Normally this is the part where I say Turnbull is a twit. No I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m just going to shake my head in derision at those that say they had respect for Turnbull. When it comes to the NBN I’ve never had any respect for Turnbull so this comes as no surprise to me at all. I know many of you like to think they (the coaltion clowns) will continue with the proper NBN build as planned should they win the next election but this latest comment is just an indicator of how much they want to “destroy” it. Don’t be a sucker. No matter how much you prefer Turnbull to Abbott their NBN narrative is the same.

  11. Labor is probably happy for the NBN to stop entering contracts until after the election. That way, people who want to see the NBN reach their street can only do so if a Labor government is re-elected.

    If Conroy truly wants to see his vision of FTTH delivered, the would instruct the NBN to lock in as many contract as possible, before Labor is wiped out.

    Only the return of Kevin Rudd can (maybe) save Labor and the FTTH NBN.

    • Kevin Rudd is ruled out from taking over, UNLESS Julia steps down voluntarily.

      If he took over as PM again in a caucus vote situation he will be rightly harpooned by the media and public for lying about intention not to run against the PM again.

      Unsure why everyone wants Rudd back, he didn’t do that great a job as PM. His popularity, while better than Julia, was still pretty awful towards the end.

    • Rudd is a great orator, but he’d disowned half the party and had become decision challenged; aggitating to be PM again would effectively destroy any credibility he has/ had. That chance has come and gone.

      Really, NBNco is getting on with the job; by the time the election roles around, Turnbull is going to need to do more than resort to the ad hominem to be taken seriously.

  12. Turnbull hasnt gone anywhere near meeting his own “truth in politics” wish since he made it – and arguably even well before. Its a massive case of do as I say, and not as I do.
    Turnbull and other Libs claimed politics should have nothing to do with the NBN when they were trying to make out that rollout sites were chosen based on Labor or marginal seats. Now here they are saying this development in politics should effectively halt the future of NBN Co right now – even though there is absolutely no guarantee the Libs will win the election. Thats how full of themselves they are.
    I tought bullying and intimidation were the realms of Abbott and Robb. Its more than apparent now that it spreads far deeper into the Liberal Party than that.

    • It’s just typical of the LNP at the moment and their born to rule “do as I say, not as I do” mentality!

  13. I just don’t get why people think this guy is any different to the rest of the lying bastards wanting our vote.

    He’s just as bad as his Leader.

    • I can’t speak for everyone, but I used to respect Malcolm when he was a more moderate and progressive Liberal. As leader of the opposition he was fully behind efforts to reduce global warming, was (and still is) firmly in favour of Australia becoming a republic (unlikely monarchy-worshipping Abbott) and unlike homophobic Abbott, Turnbull openly supports gay marriage.

      However his actions as shadow communications minister are an entirely different kettle of fish, and when it comes to this topic he is as backward and short-sighted as the rest of Abbott’s ultra-right Liberal cronies. It’s become very clear over the last 12 months that just like Abbott, he is prepared to lie and mislead the Australian public as much as possible, and give us a vastly inferoir broadband system, all in order to secure a coalition government. That’s why I’ve lost any ounce of respect for him I once had.

  14. +1000 Renai nearly came to tears with your expose on Turnbulls utter hypocrisy. Great to see you holding the dark side to account. If only the MSM would follow your lead the NBN would be a bi partisan let’s just do it project as it should be.

    Turnbulls claims of caretaker mode and the associated assumption that the LNP will win the election just shows that he will say anything and do anything to get into power including trashing the NBN for nothing but political reasons.

    I hope everyone now takes everything he says about the real NBN with FTTH and his own crazy FTTN scheme and applies the Malcolm bullshit, say anything do anything filter to expose his lies.

  15. Governments should be in caretaker mode as soon as they are elected, since it’s *only* a few years until the next election and they shouldn’t do anything that would be expensive for the next government to undo.

  16. Actually, as this debate wears on and the election draws nearer, I’m increasingly concerned that the NBN is a fringe issue for the core voting public. I have spoken to many people over the past 6 months who know very little about the NBN beyond the LNP soundbites printed in negative MSM articles, and worse, they don’t care. The most concerning revelation I’ve had recently is the way the LNP seem to be buying the ‘grey vote’ – apparently this was a hugely successful strategy during the Howard years and with our aging population it makes a lot of sense to throw a little cash to pensioners to get their votes as they are far more concerned about their weekly Centrelink payments than they are about the future of a country they will never live to see, particularly when Ms Gillard recently reduced their payments.

    I also know someone who worked on the election call centre for several years, where they got huge numbers of calls from young people wanting to know how much the fine is for failing to vote. When they discovered how little it was they almost universally told call centre operators it was easier to pay the fine than take the effort to vote. Does anyone know what the no-vote percentage has been for previous elections (particularly broken down by age)?

    • > Actually, as this debate wears on and the election draws nearer, I’m increasingly concerned that the NBN is a fringe issue for the core voting public.

      Unfortunately, it is. Voters can get stuck thinking that one side is “good” and the other is “bad”, and they end up voting for the “good” side without understanding the policies of either. The media doesn’t try very hard to avoid this.

      • Unfortunately most voters find out all to well the consequences of what happens to these blind votes once policies start kicking and people realise both sides are just as likely to take away as well as give…

    • “Shock, Horror”

      The NBN will not fix all that is wrong with Australia?

      Oh damn..

  17. The amusing thing is that the Coalition MPs haven’t figured out that with the likes of Twitter, every lie, BS, FUD and 1/2 truth they sprout is recorded and referred to again and again.

    Turnbull’s been caught out with his bullshit more times than I care to remember. His “fully costed and ready to go policy” statement came back to bite him and he got shitty when it was brought up again and again.

    The same goes for his posturing about Politicians being more accountable and truthful in what they do and say, well this is again proving to bite him on his rather large and well padded arse.

    The arrogance shown by Coalition MPs has Abbott worried. If not, then why has he been on record reminding his colleagues to not be arrogant?

    • The problem with this however is the people who don’t know the facts are the people who don’t use Twitter. Also, whether the smallish tech community in Australia likes it or not, the Libs are going to win by a landslide.

      It is a catch 22 situation, hopefully the FTTP NBN will roll out to a few nearby suburbs which I can move to once the libs spoil it for everyone else.

  18. I think you miss the subtle intent of making such a statement, Turnbull knows caretaker mode doesn’t start until the writs are issued, it is to give the electorate the impression the Coalition are the Government in waiting and the Gillard Government is just treading water waiting to be replaced.

  19. Haha
    This simply a good political move by Mr Turnbull.

    The Gillard government broke convention and made an early election statement, giving them the moral highground. Turnbull is just trying to twist the governments arm a little for it.

    Renai, your reaction is out of proportion to Mr Turnbulls statement. Mr Turnbull knows that there will be no “Caretaker Mode” for a number of months yet, a government doesnt just stop working half a year out from an election nor do government departments. Mr Turnbull knows this but he is the Shadow Communications Minister so he targeted the NBN.

    If anything, the vehemence in this article corroborates Mr Turnbulls allegations that the NBN has been raised to a religious level here and in other places

    • I expect the term caretaker Government will be used quite a bit from here on in, it is partly Gillards fault for calling the election so early in effect setting up a long election mode phase.

      • It’s Gillard’s fault LNP front benchers have been claiming caretaker government for the last 6 years? lol.

    • “This simply a good political move by Mr Turnbull.”

      OK, he lied for political reasons. I am glad you agree with everyone here.

      Now, do you agree with what Turnbull has said many times, that such lying should stop?

    • “If anything, the vehemence in this article corroborates Mr Turnbulls allegations that the NBN has been raised to a religious level here and in other places”

      Or more to the point. His lies and hypocracy in what should be a technical debate on what is best for Australia’s future is pissing the tech community off. Nothing religious about it.

      • Actually, reading the transcript closer, he just explained Julie Bishop’s statement and implied that he agreed with it.
        All we can really pin on him here is that he said that the NBN should consider what agreements it makes before the election

        • So, he perpetuated an untruth. Or do you claim he was ignorant and thought the government really was in caretaker mode. Keep spinning, you may come up with something that shows he was being honest. The only options I can see are he lied, perpetuated a lie (which is really lying in itself) or he was ignorant.

        • And NBN should “reconsider” new contracts because?

          Last time I checked NBN was getting flak for not progressing fast enough and here we have the same party calling for the NBN to “slow down”?

          So which one shall it be then?

        • Matthew says “All we can really pin on him here is that he said that the NBN should consider what agreements it makes before the election”

          What so it can be made EASIER for the Libs to TRASH the NBN and replace it with their SH*T Riiiiight!!!

    • You’re right, Gillard did break convention and bring this on herself. However, Turnbull’s flat out … yes, I will call it basically lying about the caretaker conventions. And history has shown (hello, Lance Armstrong) that that’s never a good move.

      • Yes but Bishop had made up a new term which is ‘virtual caretaker mode’, which I assume means the caretaker mode you are in before you are in caretaker mode, yes I know it is meaningless but this is politics and about creating perceptions.

        What Turnbull is probably referring to is watching out for NBN contracts or changes to existing that are rushed into being because the election date is known and which are more about locking the Coalition into FTTH if they win.

        In reality I don’t expect this to happen anyway because payments and contracts are already allocated for this year and into next, any changes to contracts making them longer term for example would require extra payments to be approved by Parliament over and beyond what is already budgeted and approved.

        • FFS, can’t you accept the guy isn’t a saint, he is not Jesus Chirst. He is calling the tech community out for “religous zealotry”.

          He’s not the Messiah, he just a very naughty politician.

          • ‘FFS, can’t you accept the guy isn’t a saint,’

            ‘he is not Jesus Chirst.’.

            ‘He’s not the Messiah,’


            ‘He is calling the tech community out for “religous zealotry”’

            Jeez I wonder why. :)

          • “Jeez I wonder why. :)”

            ignoring the point as usual. Saying the tech community is supporting fibre in a religious fashion. The tech community it looking the the technical side of the proposed plans and weighing them up. You can see that in posts where you don’t drag them in to political arguments.

            The point I was trying to make is you are defending Turnbull like you think the sun shines out his arse, everything he says is true, ignore where he contradicts himself, ignore where he does exactly what he tells others not to. You follow him with a blind religious faith and propose ludicrous explainations for his actions when he strays from perfection.

          • If you want any of your “arguments” to be taken serious, give an inch here and there.
            Turnbull is lying and being deceptive. It’s obvious to everyone. Protecting everything he, Bolte and anyone anti NBN says, no matter how obvious it is untrue makes you the zealot.

          • Alain, you are clearly the kind of person who upon being told you have a cancer that if left untreated by chemo will kill you in 6 months, goes off to your quack natropath for some “alternative medicine” (if it worked it wouldnt be “alternative”, it would be called medicine!) and promptly dies in six months!

            Us IT folk are experts in our field just like medical doctors are in theirs, if you want to ignore the professionals then all I can say is I hope natural selection weeds you out of the gene pool before you breed!

          • You are the ‘IT Professional’ who said the Labor policy prior to the 2007 election was NOT Fibre to the Node, when I posted a link to the Labor Policy document prior to the 2007 election which clearly showed it was FTTN you disappeared fast without any apology only to reappear here with some totally inappropriate comments related to cancer.


            ‘Us IT folk are experts in our field ‘

            Yeah sure you are.

          • Everyone assumed it was FTTN includng Kevin’s crew but the outcome rested squarely on the expert panel review – end of story!

        • alain says “In reality I don’t expect this to happen anyway because payments and contracts are already allocated for this year and into next,”

          WOW!! that means I’m safe then (commencement date March 2014) for my area, DOES THAT MEAN I can vote Liberal now alain?????

          • Fibre | Construction to commence within one year – we will commence construction in your area from Jun 2013 in phases with last construction scheduled to commence in Sep 2014*.

            This is when the NBN starts around my area so hopefully they get everything signed b4 the “REAL” caretaker phase kicks in…

          • I doubt any gamer should vote Liberal, gaming effects productivity in the mines and stuff, so they’ll probably ask Telstra to slow gamers connections to make them quit…

        • Alain,

          Bishop has suggested the Federal Government act “similar to” a caretaker government. It’s not really complicated; LNP want the Government to cease being one.

          And the Government is free to continue doing what it was elected to do, until such time as it’s desolved.

          And as for extra contracts; the NBNco can sign whatever contracts it likes, that meet it’s obligations to continue the rollout, regardless of whatever the LNP feel is “appropriate”.

      • The word “convention” is an interesting one. In many places and at many times, it simply means “the habitual ways of doing things”, without any special binding authority. For example, it has been the convention of my workplace to use paper files for certain activities. At this moment, we are shifting to a new electronic document management system, abolishing many of those paper files. We have changed convention – but without any change in purpose, outcome, authority or intent.

        There is a special meaning attached to “conventions” when referring to “caretaker conventions” or other rules of government that are not merely habitual, but rooted in a deep attachment to rules governing behaviour; the “unwritten rules” of governments. The office of Prime Minister itself is one such convention – it is not referred to once in the Australian Constitution, yet the conventions surrounding the Prime Minister’s office are considerable – and that’s even taking into account all the statutory powers of the office that are enumerated in legislation.

        When the Prime Minister announces the date of the election, she is only breaking the first kind of convention – the “how things are usually done” kind of convention. Not the second kind, tied up with deeper ideas about the way government is run in our democracy.

        When talking about the two, it’s good to keep them separate. Because they are not equivalent. Not by a long shot.

    • “Mr Turnbull knows that there will be no “Caretaker Mode” for a number of months yet, a government doesnt just stop working half a year out from an election nor do government departments. Mr Turnbull knows this but he is the Shadow Communications Minister so he targeted the NBN.”

      so what youre saying is that he has deliberately lied in an attempt to mislead the public about a massive infrastructure project that his party has no intention of keeping.

      and people wonder why we dont trust politicians, especially ones that spout about “truth in politics” – they all end up showing themselves as the hypocrites they are.

  20. So Turnbull wants 1700 staff at NBN co to sit on their hands for the next 7 months 8 days. Taxpayer’s dollars well spent on salaries there.

  21. The Government should contract the complete build of the NBN, and make specific provisions for huge compensation payments in the event of cancellation of the contracts.
    Make NBN uncancellable now.
    Screw the coalition!

    • Well they probably could Kevin if they had a majority in their own right , but they have to negotiate with the Independents and Greens for every piece of legislation that is passed through Parliament.

      I am not sure if the Independents or the Greens want to look like de facto Labor MP’s in election year, especially if ongoing polls indicate that’s not a wise alignment, so passing any new legislation in 2013 maybe not so easy, it was ok when it didn’t matter so much in the past.

      • alain, you might have missed the bit over the last few years when the Greens and Independents ALREADY PASSED EVERY BIT OF NBN-RELATED LEGISLATION (and all other legislation supported by the Government as well, for that matter).

        NBN Co is already fully empowered to undertake any and all contracts and agreements necessary to fulfil its mission. It only needs the authorisation of its shareholders, the Government of the day. Not new legislation.

        They could not, therefore, suddenly enter into the property speculation business, or start work on a submarine manufacturing contract. But they certainly can roll out a fibre network to 93% of the population, with fixed wireless and satellite for the remaining 7% of Australians. That they can do.

        • I wasn’t referring to existing legislation already passed, I was referring to extra NBN legislation that maybe needed to be passed in this election year the purpose of which was to make it harder for the Coalition to get out of NBN FTTH contracts.

          • alain, the labor government doesn’t have to do anything. This is why Turnbull has, apparently in exasperation asked the government to “please stop continuing because it makes my alternative look bad”.

            NBNco are building and adhering to documented policy. The job is simply being done (and don’t start down the realtive speed of deployment crap, we’ve all heard it before).

            Perhaps if Mr Turnbull spend more time on his own policy, rather than fretting the details of the incumbants, maybe that’d be more constructive?

            Just sayin’.

          • Malcolm developing his policy to the point where he can release it to the plebs…er…sorry, public is taking longer than the NBN it’s self…

      • dont the liberals need the national party to form government? to pass laws when they are in power?

        I don’t see the difference…

        COALITION – they aren’t the 1 party .

        It’s funny how coalition supporters get shitty that other political parties team up

    • I’ve wondered along similar lines. But aside from giving the Opposition something to howl about (and howl they will), it actually undercuts the ALP’s number one argument about the NBN, which is that you have to vote ALP to keep it rolling out!

      There is plenty of reason for NBN Co to continue to sign contracts and conduct itself in a prudent manner without the intrusion of politics. No matter how much the Opposition tries to heavy them, the management of NBN Co should completely disregard any threats or warnings from the conservatives, and strictly follow the instructions of their shareholders – the Government of the day. That is the proper and ethical thing to do.

      In other words, they should proceed as though no election were looming, and as if the rollout was going to proceed without interruption all the way to 2021.

      There’s one great irony about all this – and one that Malcolm Turnbull will I’m sure realise, should he become Communications Minister.

      If the Coalition is elected, the only thing they need to do to increase rollout rates and get all the glory for a well-run project is… NOTHING. Just sit back and do nothing.

      And that’s because the ramp-up to high speed will neatly coincide with the date of the election, giving record numbers of premises passed in the six months to December 2013 (under the wise and glorious administration of the conservatives, ahem). Won’t they look good!

      • ——If the Coalition is elected, the only thing they need to do to increase rollout rates and get all the glory for a well-run project is… NOTHING. Just sit back and do nothing.—–

        Did you miss the announcement from Malcolm that the Libs will commission an audit of NBN Co’s opaque financial state as well as an independent assessment of the actual cost of continuing down the Labor policy path as well as the cost of the Lib alternative.. and then make a decision based on that assessment?

        “doing NOTHING” is not responsible government.

        • No, I didn’t miss that. Turnbull has made similar-ish announcements for a while now.

          But what does it mean? Does it mean that everyone will down tools while the bean counters and quantaty surveyors run their rulers over everything? Does it mean that some, or all contracts will be honoured? What is the timeframe for the review to report? Will it occur alongside or separately from the much-vaunted cost-benefit analysis? How will it account for the new delays to be introduced with the terminating of some elements of the NBN plan, while renegotiating others with Telstra, the ACCC and others?

          We’ve had a fair amount of hand-waving away of the details, but in this, the details are crucial.
          And I believe you missed my entire point – which is that if the Coalition wants magic improvements in the rollout rate, they don’t actually have to do anything. These will come down the pipeline, right on cue, without further “intervention” or taking the NBN Co board to task.

  22. So basically, Turnbull want’s the government to do nothing for 19.4% of it’s term? It’s true, Liberals really don’t want anything to get done.

    • Their MO is “give money to private sector buddies, then sit back and claim job done”!

        • That’s a different matter all together, which is being handled by the courts (and ICAC).

          • Indeed Daniel

            It’s amazing how people simply lump ALP as ALL ALP parties across the country. They aren’t all one giant party. They have similar goals, but anyone who ever reads a newspaper knows State government are ENTIRELY different from Federal governments.

            Trying to compare LNP or ALP governments in the Federal sphere to those in State spheres blindly is pointless- I HATE NSW Labor and don’t mind (sort of) NSW LNP. But I can’t stand our Federal LNP currently.

            I vote on policy- not party. Those who don’t, frankly, deserve the destruction they’ll get from ideological voting.

  23. Complains about speed of NBN rollout

    Doesn’t want them to enter any more contracts

    Nice move Turnbull. I hope they enter all the remaining contracts they need and put ridiculous cancellation clauses on every one of them. that way the Coalition cant screw up the nations best ever infrastructure project without committing political suicide.

    • And how does entering into contracts which are executed under the future Lib government speed up the pace of rollout under the current Labor administration which is the relevant focus of Lib complaint?

      • It doesn’t, but it does slow down the rollout during the future Labor government.

  24. If only Abbott could have tricked Gillard into announcing the date of the 2013 election back when she got in in 2010, they would have been able to force the ALP into a 3 year caretaker mode and we would have avoided progress on the NBN, Carbon Tax, Mining Tax, NDIS, Murray Darling Plan etc.

    At least that would appeat to be the current logic of the LNP.

  25. Once again one of Malware Turnbull’s utterances has me completely bemused, and once again when the facts are presented it’s a lose/lose situation for him. Either he was lying to/deliberately misleading the public, which hurts his credibility, or he’s pulled an utterly ridiculous interpretation of parliamentary convention and electoral procedure out of his misinformed luddite arse, which means the Liberal party has an ignoramus sitting on its front bench (insert joke about Coalition front bench here).

    Actual caretaker provisions (which aren’t even in the constitution if I recall correctly) only kick in when parliament has expired (3 years after its first sitting) or when parliament is dissolved by the Governor-General. If you follow the timetable on the AEC website, an election has to be held within 33 – 68 days of either of these happening. Most important of all, an election announcement can be made at any time prior to expiry/dissolution of parliament. Gillard’s early announcement, while unconventional (and a little baffling in my opinion), doesn’t mean a thing.

    • ‘Gillard’s early announcement, while unconventional (and a little baffling in my opinion), doesn’t mean a thing.’

      Well it does as long as she stays Labor leader and Labor don’t lose any more seats in the meantime.

      • What I meant was that Gillard’s announcement of an election date has no bearing whatsoever on when caretaker provisions apply, as caretaker government only comes into effect upon the expiry or dissolution of parliament. Dissolution of parliament by the Governor General won’t happen until August at the latest (it’ll probably happen in mid-July) – until then, it’s business as usual. And strictly speaking the Gillard government could continue a “business as usual” stance right up until election day, as the provisions of caretaker government are parliamentary convention.

  26. Thats an incredible right hook you have Renai, hes on the canvas going for the count!.

    In any case, he’s really harpooned himself here – I’d say once the more independant media outlets from the UK setup shop here, they’re going to be hammering News Limited pretty hard.

  27. Fixed dates are impossible under our current constitution, as the provision for double dissolution would allow any government to avoid a fixed date by posting controversial legislation and even having it’s own members in a majority senate voting against a government bill.
    The early announcement was a good strategy, despite the weird commentaries saying otherwise, it ends leadership speculation, it ends media speculation about early/late election dates and does provide some discipline for the combatants to move on from character assassinations and empty rhetoric to post policies.
    The media now has to concentrate on policy as their other options have been shortcut.

  28. I wonder, for governements with fixed terms, does this imply that they can never take any action ever?

  29. An excellent and well argued article, Renai. Once again, it merely shows the unbelievable hypocrisy of Turnbull. Here we have a classic ‘do as I say, don’t do as I do’ conflict of interest. Overseas fibre rollouts, anyone?

    It is my understanding that an increasing number of Parliaments of the Westminster variety are moving towards fixed terms. Taking Turnbull’s (and Bishop’s) arguments to their logical conclusion, in all of those, they should be in “virtual caretaker mode” (WTF??) from day one……..

  30. When you’re not sure how to take political advantage, invent a new term. “Virtual caretaker mode”? Isn’t that pretty much what the opposition has been claiming this current government has been in since it was formed?

    Politicians won’t be respected unless they earn it – and Mr Turnbull is doing a lot to burn any respect he may have earned in the past.

  31. Don’t be fooled the Libs still want to utterly destroy the NBN. Why because it came from a Labor government and not a Lib government, because it may be one of the greatest things Labor has even done, Jealousy who knows ?

    Abbott or Turnbull it doesn’t matter they couldn’t give a rats about the NBN and seem only interested in their own personal gain and bragging rights.

    In the future these 2 muppets must be held account in an Australian court of law for misleading the Australian public and sending us back 20 years in time for their own bragging rights.

  32. So I find myself wondering…

    Does this mean that Mr Turnbull is committing himself to having the Liberal NBN-alternative entirely completed from start to finish within their first term in government (if they get in)?

    Because if not it seems like he would need to take his own advice. If he cant finish it within one term then he must put it into caretaker mode as soon as it starts, so as not to inconvenience Labor if they retake government at the following election.

    Or… alternatively, hes just making up whatever sounds politically expedient to him regardless of truth or strength of character.

  33. Mr Turnbullshit is getting really worried he and ABBOTT wont be able to stop what Australia is desperately in need of
    Telecommunication Infrastructure the works and isnt hobbled and a shabbles like the current mess is, thats controlled by Telstra.

  34. Typical…..maybe the slogan for the coalition should be “Stall and Brawl”, for the sake of the hundreds of contractors out there just get on with the job, the last thing the comms industry needs now is more delays, more uncertainty, and more jobs to be lost, just when things were starting to look as though they are about to get moving at last. NBN Co, do the right thing and keep signing those contracts, and make sure the great work continues.

  35. Does this mean we can’t be dragged off to war until after the election no matter what entreaties we receive from the US?

  36. Its pretty sad when the Opposition Party has to resort to this kind of behavior.



  37. Gillard has nominated a DATE for the election. It has no legal standing of any kind. She could announce a new date tomorrow if she wanted.

    This is a completely different situation to the official launch of an election which begins with the standing down of parliament.
    According to Turnbull, no WA government could ever do anything because they have fixed terms and would by Turnbull’s definition, enter caretaker mode the day parliament sat after the election.

  38. Bishop and Turnbull believe the government is in *virtual* caretaker mode……well they can take a *virtual* hike and kiss my *virtual* behind because their lack of integrity re. the NBN (and just about everything else they rave on about) has completely wiped out any *practical* reason for believing almost anything they say.

    Malcolm Turnbull….you are a massive disappointment and no longer any different from the anti-intellectuals that surround you.

    Shame, shame, shame.

  39. The Equity Funding Agreement with NBN Co signed 22 June 2011 commits the government to up to $27.5 billion equity in NBN Co up to 2021. The government has *ALREADY* committed to giving NBN Co the money to build the NBN.

    Whether NBN Co chooses to spend this on getting contractors to perform the build or to do it internally, and the timing of signing the contracts does not change the fact that the government committed $27.5b to NBN Co over a year ago.

  40. Mr Turnbull,

    Just admit the NBN is the better model, remind Hockey and Abbott what triggered a chunk of lost votes last election – and move on.

    Asking the other guy to stop, so you can claim you have some kind of mandate to roll back the NBN is a pretty poor effort.

    Which reminds me – is there an alterntative policy yet?

  41. Just another example of how the Liberal party are currently just a pack of foolish bullies…

  42. Having said that, LNP have been claiming Labor have “clung” to power for 6 odd years. Never mind two elections.

    There’s a point where crying wolf results in people ceasing to listen.

  43. Will a change from FttP to FttN require senate support? At this stage, not giving the coalition control of both houses is probably the way to go, although you never know how strong some of the senate independants feel about the NBN and whether they’d trade it for support on another policy.

    • As far as the HoR is concerned I notice that Katter backs the coalition but even he thought at the last go round the labor policy is the better one on offer, tho that’s old reporting now. I hope his attitude there is the same this time around and stands as policy for those working as KAP members, should they be elected. It might actually be worth the time checking what various likely independents take on the policy is, given they will be necessary to any defence of it.

      And to me I’d be putting a protective vote in the senate anyway. As untrustworthy as the current mob are I have even less trust in the lnps ‘policies’ such as they are ATM, and I suspect that check and balance will be important if lnp win this cycle.

  44. Gillard has pretty much yanked the party in line. The MSM is complaining because, effectively, this causes the party to focus on things other than character assasination; which they’ve feed on for months.

    It also forces the LNP to switch gears and they have to magically come up with competing policy. To which Turnbull responds by not actually fronting up with policy, and instead request the government stop doing the NBN dance.

    NBNco will potentially have rollout stats to release in time for an election; which if they’re even remotely close to being on track will destroy any last shred of sense for FttN as a ‘faster, better’ option.

    Turnbull knows this helped seal their fate last time; if he can’t get traction on his own policy, white-ant the incombant.

    Leopard, spots. Etc.

  45. i’m sure we are going to be seeing alot of other Virtual things in this campaign…

    say for example, a fully costed broadband plan from the Coalition …

    or.. statements after the election like ..

    “that wasn’t a Core Virtual policy …”

    • If people were honest with themselves they’d see the Coalitions FTTN is a virtual policy…

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