news A video attempt by Malcolm Turnbull to reassure the public that the Coalition is proceeding apace with Labor’s National Broadband Network project has backfired, with most viewers giving the promo the ‘thumbs down’ and others filling the Communications Minister’s YouTube channel with bile accusing him of destroying Labor’s vision wholesale.
In the video, available on Turnbull’s personal YouTube channel and promoted through Turnbull’s ministerial website, the Liberal MP speaks directly to the camera from the Blacktown NBN site last week, stating that the Fibre to the Premises infrastructure promised Australians under Labor’s NBN vision is still currently being rolled out.
“We’re seeing people preparing pits and splicing and examining the network architecture,” said Turnbull, flanked in the video by staff from NBN Co, including the company’s new Coalition-appointed executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski, as well as contractors from construction firm Silcar, which is deploying the NBN in Western Sydney.
“The NBN Co is proceeding. 12,000 premises were passed last week. We have issued design instructions for more premises, twice as many premises to be passed by June 30 next year as the NBN has passed to date. The proposition that the rollout is being stopped or slowed is simply not correct.”
“We’re very committed to ensuring that all Australians have access to very fast broadband — much of it will be fibre to the premises, more will be fibre to the node or fibre to the cabinet in brownfield locations, but what we’ll be doing is to use the best, fastest, most affordable and cost-effective technologies in the appropriate place to get the end result of all Australians having access to very fast broadband.”
So far, of the 2,730 people who have watched Turnbull’s video on YouTube, some 56 gave the video the thumbs down, while only 15 gave it the thumbs up. In addition, the comments under the video have become completely filled with often abusive criticism of the Communications Minister.
“Can’t wait for your joke FRAUDBAND FTTN to put us all firmly back into the 20th century,” wrote one commenter. “I hope you are proud of your legacy. History will remember your failure with honest brutality. I think you have arrogantly forgotten that ‘you can’t fool all of the people all the time’.”
“Come on Malcolm, don’t beat around the bush. No one wants FTTN,” wrote another. “If you told me you’d be using YouTube to show videos like this 10 years ago, you’d laugh and say dial-up is more than enough for the average user. We want FTTH to the majority which was the correct plan under the Labor government. An EQUAL (Pricing the same), FAIR (Where distance or copper condition are not a factor for speed), UNITY (One) network, FUTURE PROOF (IE – the fibre cable is not the bottleneck).”
“I find it insulting that MT would proudly post a video from an area getting FTTP when he knows that he’s taking that opportunity away from the majority of Australians,” added a third.
Other viewers took umbrage at the fact that Turnbull had not invited any media to the site visit in Blacktown. It was common for Labor Senator Stephen Conroy, who is regarded as the founder of the NBN project and who held the Communications Minister post for five years from late 2007, to hold site visits to NBN construction zones. On such occasions, it was common for the Minister to invite journalists to attend such visits and launches — both from local media outlets as well as national mainstream media and the dedicated technology press.
However, it does not appear as though any media was invited to attend Turnbull’s site visit last week in Blacktown, or if the Minister took questions on the NBN rollout in the area. The result is that Turnbull’s video on the issue has an extremely positive tone and does not address criticism of the Coalition’s re-shaping of the NBN project.
“I noticed that there isn’t any other local, major mainstream and tech media during your little visit here Malcolm. Trying to dodge some more questions about your absolute joke of an NBN plan are we?” wrote one commenter.
Another added: “A propaganda video and not much else … Malcom Turnbull why didn’t you invite the media along, which Stephen Conroy has done in the past? … too much flak and heat to take?”
And still others highlighted the fact that Turnbull appeared to have pre-empted the outcome of NBN Co’s Strategic Review, by stating in the video that Fibre to the Node would be used in the NBN rollout. The Minister has previously stated that the Coalition was open to using any technology in the NBN rollout, which telecommunications analysts such as Paul Budde have interpreted as giving NBN Co a chance to take costs out of its current FTTP rollout scheme and show that FTTP is still a viable rollout model.
Wrote one commenter: “I thought you were “technology agnostic”? Yet, before the review is even finished you are still stuck with your FTTN ideology. How bout you take your bias review and shove it up your A$$. Nobody wants your node BS. How bout you take yourself, Switkowski and Telstra and all GTFO Australia. You all have ruined our telecommunications system for too long.”
And another added: “So the NBN review hasn’t been completed and yet you’re already saying its mostly Fibre to the Node? Sounds like the review will mean nothing. How about you listen to the Australian public for a change.”
“… much of it will be fibre to the premises, more will be fibre to the node or fibre to the cabinet in brownfield locations”, quoted a third. “Thank goodness you’re technology agnostic and no decisions have been made re: Connection types, pending the outcome of your review …”
The comments reflect ongoing support amongst the Australian population for Labor’s FTTP-based NBN model, and concern that the Coalition’s preferred FTTN model will not deliver the same service delivery outcomes to Australians. Despite the poor rollout performance of the NBN rollout under Labor, a series of polls over several years has constantly shown that the majority of the Australian population supported Labor’s NBN project.
Since the Coalition won the Federal Election in September, a wave of popular dissent against the Coalition’s plans to reshape the project has surfaced, with a number of initiatives under way to petition the Coalition to back Labor’s policy instead of its own.
An analysis of Senate voting patterns put together by supporters of Labor’s all-fibre NBN policy has also shown parties supporting the Fibre to the Premises model received more support in the Federal Election than the Coalition’s alternative, calling into question Turnbull’s claim to have a mandate to change the NBN rollout to fibre to the node.
In an opinionated article first published on iTNews last week, Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare advised Turnbull to continue to support Labor’s FTTP rollout model, despite the problems with the NBN project and the very slow rollout speed of the model so far.
“Ask most experts and they will tell you the future is fibre. The question is whether you do it now or later,” Clare wrote. “In other words, if we build a second rate fibre to the node system today we are going to have to come back later and finish the job.”
“There have been problems with the early construction rollout. It is not good enough and it needs to be fixed. There are lots of things that can be done to improve the construction rollout, and they should be done. But we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Fibre to the home is the right policy. We have to fix the construction of it – not throw it out.”
Image credit: Screenshot of Turnbull promotional video