news The Australian Greens have accused the Coalition of perpetrating a “farce” in the delivery of its rival National Broadband Network policy this morning, describing the alternative vision for Australia’s future telecommunications needs as “planned obsolescence” on a vast scale and as “a rehashed ALP broadband policy from 2009”.
This morning the Coalition published its long-awaited rival NBN policy. The policy promises Australians download speeds of between 25Mbps and 100Mbps by the end of 2016 and 50Mbps to 100Mbps by the end of 2019, at a projected reduced total cost of $29.5 billion. Unlike Labor’s NBN project, it will make extensive use of fibre to the node technology (where fibre is rolled out to neighbourhood ‘nodes’ and much of the existing copper network is maintained), but will also utilise fibre to the premise, satellite and fixed wireless solutions in some areas.
The Greens have been broadly supportive of Labor’s NBN vision, although other aspects of Labor telecommunications policy — such as the project by the Attorney-General’s Department to substantially increase surveillance powers of government agencies and implement a comprehensive data retention system — has come in for heavy criticism from the party.
In a statement issued this morning responding to the Coalition’s launch, Greens Leader Christine Milne and Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam heavily criticised the policy. “The Coalition’s alternative broadband policy is ‘planned obsolescence’ on a vast scale, and will deliver a rehashed ALP broadband policy from 2009,” the pair’s statement said.
Milne added: “The Coalition has finally come out with its first detailed policy, and it’s a farce. We need long-term vision, nation-building infrastructure that will meet Australia’s needs for future generations, not cheapskate measures that will cost us more later on.”
“The concept of installing tens of thousands of powered cabinets on street corners around the country will leave existing customers stranded on obsolete copper while new estates get glass fibre installed. The Coalition is continuously playing politics with policy, which is why we need Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate to keep a check on Abbott’s ridiculous plans and to stand up with a strong alternative voice.”
“This highlights why it is vital to keep Scott Ludlam in the Senate to protect the NBN – more Coalition seat-warmers in the Senate will demolish the progress on infrastructure reform, setting Australia back decades.”
Ludlam said that the Coalition’s “technically inferior proposal” was based on an out-dated and degraded copper network, which was enormously expensive to maintain and vulnerable to weather events. “This approach was explicitly rejected in 2009 prior to the Government’s announcement of the fibre-to-the home project, because it would be obsolete on the day it was built,” said Ludlam.
“With the Coalition generating headlines with imaginary cost figures for the NBN, attention should not be diverted from the very real problems in rolling out the NBN. The company should come clean on its revised targets, but the last thing we need is to revisit a concept that was rejected with good reason. The Coalition’s broadband policy is faster and cheaper for a reason: it provides a quick fix that we will regret.”