Kevin Rudd misrepresents Coalition’s NBN policy


news Former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has made a factually inaccurate statement regarding the Coalition’s rival National Broadband Network policy, falsely claiming that much of his electorate will see “zero upgrade” from the policy, when in fact the Coalition’s plan covers 100 percent of Australia, as does Labor’s own.

On Tuesday this week 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. Like Labor’s own policy, a core feature of the policy is that every Australian will see some upgrade to their infrastructure.

However, on Twitter yesterday, Rudd — one of the original architects of Labor’s own policy — stated: “Re: broadband, I live 5km from Bris CBD. Even here broadband is a problem. Under Abbott, much of my community gets zero upgrade.” The tweet was signed ‘KRudd’, meaning it was posted by Rudd himself and not a member of his office.


Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull immediately responded to Rudd’s false claim, stating on Twitter: “Not correct; Our plan will improve your area’s bband speeds by taking it from ADSL to VDSL – most would have 50 megs – 25 is the minimum.” He added in a follow-up tweet that 25Mbps was the minimum speed which the Coalition was guaranteeing under its predominantly fibre to the node plan — but that VDSL had the potential to deliver much higher speeds for “most customers”.

In this case, Turnbull is factually accurate in that the Coalition’s broadband plan will indeed see much of Rudd’s electorate upgraded to fibre to the node technology over the next three years, with the move having the potential to boost the download speeds of many residents and businesses from ADSL levels (up to 24MBps, but usually significantly lower) to speeds above 24Mbps and eventually above 50Mbps.

Delimiter has contacted the office of Kevin Rudd to invite the Labor backbencher for a response to the issue.

The news comes as misrepresentations have plagued both sides of politics when it comes to the NBN debate over the past week. In another example, on Thursday Turnbull and Abbott attended a launch at the Marcus Oldham College in Geelong. At the event, Abbott used Twitter to state: “With press + @TurnbullMalcolm at Marcus Oldham College Geelong. Under Labor they get no NBN. A priority under us.”

However, as Communications Minister Stephen Conroy pointed out shortly afterwards, Marcus Oldham College is actually scheduled to receive fibre under Labor’s NBN plan — like the Coalition’s plan, a key feature of Labor’s NBN policy is that every premise in Australia will receive some form of upgraded broadband infrastructure — whether it will be fibre to the premise, wireless or satellite. Both policies feature a ‘ubiquity’ component.

The chief financial officer of Marcus Oldham College, Tony McMeel, has since issued a statement explaining the issue. “I confirm today that I made enquiries with Telstra Business on behalf of the College and was advised that we would not be receiving the NBN in the current NBN rollout,” he said.
“One of the College’s directors attended an NBN Co information session run by the City of Greater Geelong earlier this year and was given the same advice by the NBNCo representative. Telstra advised that if the College wished to secure fibre optic cable to deliver high speed broadband, a cost of  approximately $25,000 would need to be paid. Telstra made it clear that any such fibre delivery would not be part of the current NBN rollout.”

However, McMeel’s comments only pertain to the current NBN rollout plans, which currently extend over the next three years. NBN Co is progressively revealing its rollout plans and will cover the entirety of Australia by the time its network rollout is completed, around 2021.

The FUD is flying from both sides at the moment. In this case, it’s not quite possible to conclusively say whether Rudd was consciously “lying” about the Coalition’s NBN policy, as we don’t have knowledge of how much Rudd precisely understands of the policy. However, what we can say is that he did misrepresent the Coalition’s policy, and should correct his error.

Image credit: Australian Civil-Military Centre, Creative Commons


  1. So time for a retraction on the previous”lies” article?

    If NBNco representatives and their RSP advise them their is no NBN coming, and NBNco are well overdue on releasing the updated 3 year rollout map (was due in march) how could they assume otherwise?

      • Doesn’t mean you are covered by fibre though… which is kindof the point. If NBnco and the RSP advised no fibre coverage i very much doubt a school would have fixed wireless or satellite as a valid option.

  2. 2 wrong don’t make a right but maybe he is giving the lib’s a bit of there own FUD medicine.

  3. This is not entirely accurate. Most Australian capital cities already have FTTN in the form of HFC cable internet. The coalition’s plan is really just spending money duplicating two networks that already exist. Cable is already upgradeable to provide speeds far superior to VDSL.

    HFC can already provide up to 100mbps, providers just need financial incentive to upgrade and implement more nodes in areas of congestion.

    ADSL is not the only broadband service available today, I do not understand why the coalition make out it is.
    There is no point wasting money on yet another FTTN network.

    • Great point, perhaps you need to amend your article Renai or check to see if Rudds electorate is covered by the HFC networks, because if so then he hasn’t misrepresented a thing, and your entire article is wrong.

      If not, then yes he is misrepresenting, lying, etc.

    • I agree with Grant because as far as I am aware, most of Brisbane is covered by HFC so there is going to be no or little upgrade. Might even be a downgrade since there will be more users on HFC since they’ve already stated they won’t be upgrading areas with HFC.

        • > HFC is FTTN. All implementations of FTTN are, by their very nature, shared networks.

          By the same definition Labor’s FTTP is a shared network as they have chosen a PON architecture.

          You might be thinking of Google Fibre which is direct fibre to the premises. It seems most of Australia have a misplaced understanding that Labor’s NBN is similar to Google Fibre when they are very different.

          • All networks are shared networks. Doesn’t matter what the underlying architecture is, at some point it will face contention.

            Frankly I hate this justification for FTTP over FTTN, as it’s a stupid one, but it’s ultimately harmless so I leave it be. Bigger fish to fry as it were, something I have been trying to teach YOU Mathew, to no avail.

  4. FUD is is FUD and it is unacceptable regardless of which political party is at fault.

    So anyone who criticises one but condones the other is a hypocrite and or political stooge, IMO.

    Having said that as an NBN supporter I must admit, I have had a bit of cheeky/facetious fun with those who have claimed $100B NBN, by intentionally referring to MT’s plan as a $60B or $80B plan.

    Of course the usual suspects jump on me asking where I got such a figure from and I of course tell them from the same place you got yours…

    It’s known as Karma :)

  5. Renai, my in-laws are in KRudd’s electorate, and I can tell you from where I stand, he is 100% correct. The whole area is covered by HFC and according to the Coalition policy, there will be no upgrades to the xDSL in the area in the next 3-6 years, because it is already covered by Telstra and Optus HFC

    • Actually that is one area not covered by the Coalition plan. Everyone gets 25Mb in the first term of office. If it is still the plan to leave HFC areas til last how does everyone get 25Mb? There was no mention of getting Telstra to connect MDU to HFC. I am in a group of 3 house on one double block. Not even a flat and I can’t get Telstra to connect the cable running right past the front of my place.
      It will be interesting to see 25Mb to everyone in 3 years. My bet is there will be a slowed FTTH rollout, wireless, and the FTTN rollout won’t have gone past some test sites.

    • The Coalition has confirmed it is planning to overbuild the HFC with FTTN. I quote from the policy:

      “Approximately 65 per cent of the fTTn portion of the rollout is expected to be completed in the four years to 2016-17. The remaining 35 per cent will be deployed in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and will in most cases be in areas served by HFC networks.”

      • Thanks, looks like I get nothing til the second stage then as I have a HFC cable running past my place I can’t access. I guess you are in the same boat too.

      • Wait a sec, so they’re going to start building FttN in 2012-13? They haven’t even gotten into power yet, let alone done the planning and negotiation.

      • Yes that is true, but given the fact that HFC is faster than VDSL, it could be argued as not an upgrade therefore making Uncle Kev technically correct.

        His statement stands as factual given the constraints of the situation.

      • So… For the next election term, the residents of KRudd’s electorate get nothing, as he said. Therefore, he’s not misinforming.

        There is also the laughable prospect that even if the Coalition Fraudband plan is put in to action, they will have finished negotiations with Telstra to start building within 12 months of coming to power.

      • @Renai

        Well, yes, KRudd’s Electorate will get FTTN….but that WON’T improve speeds. HFC, providing you can get it, will give you up to 100Mbps. Same as HFC.

        So, in fact, KRudd is completely correct.

  6. His electrate has close to 100% cable, so we (I am in his electrate) will see nothing during the next term, and is FTTN an demonstrated improvement on claimed cable performance?

    • “is FTTN an demonstrated improvement on claimed cable performance”

      It’s hard to compare directly due to HFC being a shared medium and FTTN not, but personally, I would prefer to be on FTTN.

      • A big chunk of Rudd’s electorate of Griffith is covered by the Telstra South Brisbane optic fibre ghetto. I don’t see anything in the Coalition plan to improve life for them.

      • “It’s hard to compare directly due to HFC being a shared medium and FTTN not”

        FTTN is, by its very nature, shared at the node. HFC is FTTN. Being FTTN, you can’t say FTTN is better than itself…
        FTTN in the form of HFC has much faster possible speeds and lower latency than FTTN in the form of VDSL. Just look at US HFC networks, they already offer speeds of 300Mbps

  7. How is this a false claim? Most of his electorate is on HFC with speeds in a lot of cases in excess of 100mbps (users on Telstra Ultimate plans often report speeds around 120 mbps). Even if the Coalition plan on overbuilding the HFC networks you or they have not yet proven that there would be any benefit to the majority of Rudd’s electorate, hence his statement stands.

      • I dint think it matters what they are on, only what their choice could be. The could choose to be on Cable, or south brisbane fibre. Are they better then some future plan whose real speeds and costs are yet to be established?

        I don’t believe his comments reached the level of misrepresentation.

  8. Yes, I meant that most of his electorate falls within the HFC network, and if users so desired they could take advantage of it and speeds that exceed the Coalition’s minimum guarantee of 25mbps. What Rudd said was that “Under Abbott, much of my community gets zero upgrade.” Unless you can prove existing HFC networks provide less than 25mbps or that the majority of Rudd’s electorate does not have access to HFC then his statement stands and you should edit your article.

    • If you’re saying that Rudd was saying that his electorate is already well-served by HFC and that the Coalition’s plan won’t improve that, then I can assure you that you’re wrong: Rudd was not saying that. Rudd was directly contrasting the Coalition’s NBN policy with Labor’s own.

      • I seem to have botched the reply function, hopefully this one is OK :)

        I can only go off the quotes you have provided, Renai. Rudd has claimed that much of his electorate will see no improvement from the Coalition’s plan. Existing HFC networks already provide 100mbps down to the majority of his electorate, and as I understand it the Coalition is offering 25-100mbps by 2016 and then 50-100mbps by 2019. As far as I can see that provides no benefit to existing HFC subscribers who already receive 100mbps services. Labor’s plan if I recall correctly will be eventually offering 1000/400mbps services? So for existing HFC subscribers, no upgrade under Coalition but a 10fold downstream upgrade and a 200~ upstream upgrade under Labor’s plan?

      • If he is in fact comparing the two policies, then his electrate (like most of Australia) will get downgrade.

        • The west end of his electorate is on Fibre, the rest HFC, right? Sounds like a downgrade to me.

      • “I live 5km from Bris CBD.”
        “Even here broadband is a problem.”
        “Under Abbott, much of my community gets zero upgrade.”

        specifically which part of that tweet is factually incorrect? or merits this response from yourself ” when in fact the Coalition’s plan covers 100 percent of Australia, as does Labor’s own.”

        there was no wide comparison of policy made in the tweet, just that much of his community will get zero upgrade which is quite true of any community, suburb or electorate that already has HFC or fibre. if mr turnbull lived in a community, 5km from the brisbane cbd, that was already covered by telstra velocity, for example, then a tweet from him with the same content would be factually correct (albeit silly).

        just because you have construed it to be a comparison of the overall alp vs lib nbn plan does not make it that, you cannot state that he said something he didnt actually say, thats being factually incorrect. your article is in response to your interpretation of the tweet, and not the actual content of the tweet.

        im all for calling politicians up on their bullshit statements – but you have to be very careful that you do it on their actual text, not yours, or anyone elses, interpretation of the text.

  9. ” it’s not quite possible to conclusively say whether Rudd was consciously “lying” ”

    WTF? Of course he knew what he was saying. Kevin always knows what he is saying. typical labor FUD, just like once again we’ll here abbott wants to bring back work choices, we’ll here that trashy tiring rhetoric every election for the next 50 years, or until even staunch labor voters wake up that its all scare mongering, it is after all what the ALP does best – cant let the truth get in the way of a good scare campaign.

  10. I disagree, under this NBN they had an upgrade to look forward too, now just more of the same and they won’t see any increase in speed for many many years under the coalition Claytons NBN patchwork.

  11. Most of Rudd’s electorate is covered by HFC and coalition policy is to not upgrade HFC until all the other areas are complete and even then it is dependant on negotiations with Telstra.

    On that basis, certainly for most of the coming decade, most of his electorate will NOT get any benefit from a coalition NBN.

  12. “In this case, Turnbull is factually accurate in that the Coalition’s broadband plan will indeed see much of Rudd’s electorate upgraded to fibre to the node technology over the next three years”

    Has the policy to not roll out FTTN in existing HFC coverage been abandonded then?

    He did not say that coalition NBN would not come to his electorate or NOBODY in his electorate would see an improvement or even that most in his electorate would not receive a benefit.

    He said MUCH of his electorate will receive no benefit which is self evidently true.
    The important difference here is that even when FTTN is rolled out, after everyone else gets it because his electorate is mostly covered by HFC, the download speeds will RANGE from 50Mb/s to 100Mb/s.
    EVERYONE on the HFC WILL has access to 100Mb/s if they wish.

    Given the gymnastics you have engaged in in the past to extend Turnbull the benefit of the doubt, this seems somewhat disingenuous.

  13. So, we’ve established that Rudd’s electorate is largely covered by HFC, and even when FTTN is deployed at a much later date HFC is probably faster than FTTN would be, so by not going the FTTP route, there is likely no upgrade. So what part is actually misrepresentative?

    It’s cherry-picking on Rudd’s part, perhaps, but not at the level of misrepresentation, especially when you consider that the same or similar situation will be apparent in other parts of Australia – Turnbull hasn’t singled Rudd out, but I guess that’s the point: Rudd simply uses his electorate as an example of what can happen under the Coalition’s plan. That he doesn’t explain why is a sad consequence of the short form of text known as the tweet.

    If there is any misrepresentation, it is that this article misrepresents Rudd’s tweet.

  14. A large part of Kevin Rudd’s electorate was under flood water recently.
    The coalition’s FTTN cabinets are not waterproof. Repairs would have taken many weeks, or even months after the Brisbane floods. Labor’s FTTP fibre distribution boxes are waterproof. (and can be mounted underground)

  15. I think quite a few people here are putting words in Rudd’s mouth … the meaning of what he said was very clear, and I’m not going to retract the article or correct it.

    The majority of Rudd’s electorate (and pretty much every other electorate in Australia) uses ADSL. The Coalition will overbuild all of the HFC eventually, and that ADSL will be upgraded to FTTN. Thus, every premise in Rudd’s electorate will receive upgraded broadband infrastructure. There’s a reason that people usually prefer ADSL to HFC — ADSL is not a shared medium. While FTTN will make it more of a shared medium than ADSL, it still does not compare to HFC. Fibre is an order of magnitude different to HFC.

    The argument that the South Brisbane exchange area wouldn’t receive an upgrade under the Coalition is irrelevant — it wouldn’t have received an upgrade under Labor either.

  16. Hey everyone, it’s gotten a little feral on here over the weekend, so I’m closing the NBN threads for now. I’ll re-open new NBN threads on Monday after everyone’s had a bit of a chance to calm down. If you want to continue to debate this stuff right now, there’s always the forums.


    Editor + Publisher, Delimiter

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