blog We were a little bit surprised when Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbul abjectly rejected a move by NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley last week to back an independent industry investigation into the merits of various high-speed broadband technologies. We would have thought Turnbull would have welcomed such a move, given that it opens the door for a discussion of how the NBN rollout could change under the Coalition.
And, it appears we’re not the only ones to think that way. Local communications analyst Paul Budde writes on his blog today (we recommend you click here for the full post):
“For more than a year the Opposition has been hammering on alternative plumbing solutions for the NBN. FttN and HFC have been spearheading their campaign, but in the past they also had wireless technologies on their list of alternatives. However they claimed that they do not have the resources or the information to investigate this properly – so one would have expected them to embrace the proposal to investigate the current NBN and other potential technical solutions … Why would the Opposition not welcome such a review if they are so sure that they can get the NBN cheaper and faster into the market with their proposed technologies? Here is an excellent opportunity to put that to the test.
There seems to be more of an interest in launching an inquiry into how much a cup of coffee costs at NBN Co than there is in investigating something as serious as the NBN operation.”
We can’t help but agree with Budde. If they are firm in their belief that their policies are the correct ones for Australia, neither the Coalition nor the Government has anything to fear from any number of independent reviews into the future of the NBN. In fact, if it was up to us, we’d go hog wild. How about this for a suggestion: The Federal Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy should fund three or four such studies. One by the Communications Alliance, one by the Productivity Commission, one by a major consulting firm such as Ernst & Young and one by a consumer group such as the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.
After all … why not? Such studies are generally inexpensive (a few hundreds thousand to a few million dollars each) and could add a great deal to the debate, providing a solid underpinning for the NBN election debate. Perhaps a consensus between both sides of politics could even be reached at the end of such a process; a desirable thing, given the need for stability in this massive infrastructure project.
But wait … we can’t see either side agreeing to this kind of thing. Because, if we’re being honest about it, the current NBN debate is less about things which actually matter such as better outcomes for Australians and more about politics. And ain’t that just the sad truth.
Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull