Abbott, Turnbull: No NBN talks with Murdoch



blog If you believe much of the hype around News Corp’s ongoing attacks on the National Broadband Network, much of the rationale behind them comes from the fear that the NBN could prove to be the catalyst which will unlock real competition to Foxtel, the subscription TV joint venture between News Corp and Telstra. However, according to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, the topic has never come up in talks with Murdoch. The Australian newspaper reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Tony Abbott says he has never discussed the National Broadband Network with News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch or any of his senior executives.”

We also have similar comments from Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, on radio 2UE:

“In terms of talking to Murdoch about it, I don’t recall discussing the NBN with Murdoch but I have to say that the view that he’s put in the public domain is pretty much the same as everybody else in the business community has taken which is: How on earth can the Government justify embarking on such a gigantic project with so little consideration, no cost-benefit analysis, no limit on the costs, no realistic understanding on how long it’s going to take.

The whole thing looks thoroughly unbusiness-like and reckless. So Murdoch I’m sure has some original opinions on some things but on the NBN he’s just expressing the standard view you’d find from pretty much every business person I talk to around the country.”

Opinions currently vary wildly as to whether the NBN, in either iteration, poses a thread to Foxtel. Personally, as I wrote yesterday, I don’t think it does. But there’s also a wider issue here, in terms of the claims being made. There just isn’t a lot of evidence at the moment that News Limited’s anti-NBN coverage has been aimed at shoring up Foxtel’s future, and not just targeted at an obvious problem project of the Labor Government. It’ll be interesting to see if we get more evidence on this issue as the election campaign progresses.


  1. Why are people even listening to Murdoch? He gave up his right to meddle in Australian politics when he renounced his Australian citizenship to become a US citizen.

    Time to take your pills old man.

    The nasty interwebz won’t bother you anymore…

    • Was it written down?

      I’m sure the bright sparks at LNP headquarters will tell us that if their fingers are crossed behind their back its not technically a lie either.

  2. I could be cynical and ask if his lips where moving. True Murdoch may not want to kill the NBN but i’m sure he’d like to be in control

  3. Why would they need to have ‘talks’?

    The Coaltion wants to destroy it because it is a good project that has initiated by Labor.
    Rupert hates it because the NBN is a threat to him, as well as being a good project that has initiated by Labor.
    It isn’t like they need to all sit in some castle on top of a mountain, stroking persian cats while hatching diabolical schemes together.

    There are plenty of little bunches of idiots or self-interested jerks around who are against the NBN. They don’t have to form a committee for them all to have the same nefarious goals.

  4. Malcolm says “I don’t recall discussing the NBN with Murdoch”
    – bad memory? not the first time a politician has forgotten something inconvenient.

    • Yeah, the “As far as I can remember…” is a get out of jail free card for Turnbull (and politicians in general).

      Of course Abbott’s said on record not to trust anything he says unless it’s scripted (even then I don’t trust him).

      • “Of course Abbott’s said on record not to trust anything he says unless it’s scripted (even then I don’t trust him”

        His agreement to support electoral reform was a writen, signed agreement. It took a week for him to publicly break that written promise.

  5. Well maybe murdoch and abbot/turnbull havn’t discussed it with each other in a direction fashion, hence the ‘i don’t recall’ use.

    Whats to say that the LNP people under turnbul and abbot havn’t been talking with murdochs people either? A little note under the table and whispering in ears?

    But of course we know none of that goes on in politics and business. I mean abbot, turnbul and murdochs record are shining examples of integrity, moral fortitude and…..

  6. I doubt he wants to kill it, but I also doubt he’d miss it if it did get killed off…

  7. so .. who would the libs sell the nbn to ? as led zepplin sang “it makes me wonder”

    • Well if they build their FTTN version, it will end up as a costly liability, so the only way they’d be able to sell it would be to write off a huge chunk of the build and operating costs (ie cost to the taxpayer). You know, just like they did when they ‘privatised’ Telstra.

  8. Flat out lies.

    Abbott had a big meeting with Murdoch in 2010 and the very next day swore to destroy the NBN. An “unnamed media executive” stated that they were annoyed that he made it so obvious by acting on the meeting publically so quickly. An unverified rumour I know, but frankly I find anonymous sources more believable than Abbott, who has made an artform out of misleading the media and public.

    • I remember reading that and was looking for it (link) to post. Glad someone else is on the ball.

  9. I don’t know what is scarier the possibility of News corp running an active campaign to destroy one of the largest infrastructure projects in Australia’s history or the possibility that the opposition leader hasn’t spoken a word about it to a man who has a huge stake in the projects outcome. Knowing that he has spent a large amount of time with Murdoch.

    I think Abbott made a huge mistake by saying that he hasn’t spoken to Murdoch about the NBN. Simply saying he had a general conversation sharing view points on the matter would have been enough.

    • Abbott could have gained some credibility if he had said that he has spoken to lots of people, including some connected with Rupert Murdoch related entities, about a whole range of Labor related policies and projects that he strongly believes that his team can offer better alternatives on, or manage better.

    • How the hell can you support a politicial party that cosies up to any organisation that supports the following.
      How about Rudd declare war on the IPA as well as Murdoch.
      Surely, one could seriously damage the credibility of many a Federal LNP Coalition member for associating with an organisation that peddles the following media and telecom related policies.

      14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
      15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
      16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
      17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations
      27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions
      50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
      51 Privatise SBS
      69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built

      • I find it kind of amusing that that this organisation uses the ironic name Institute of “Public” Affairs.

        This one isn’t directly media and telecom related, but wow:
        9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

        I’ve spoken to a guy who actually thinks that a lot of these are good ideas. Needless to say, he’s a liberal voter.

        • And we wonder why we have such pronounced disparity between rich and poor in this country with powerful lobby groups like this with more funding and influence than all the left wing, socialist and human rights lobbies and associations put together :-\

Comments are closed.