Turnbull’s first 100 days have been a disaster



blog With the release of NBN Co’s Strategic Review yesterday, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull didn’t precisely cover himself in glory. The document outed the fact — a mere three months after the Election — that the Coalition won’t be able to meet its 2016 NBN delivery promises. But worse; it also recommended a delivery model which will see little to no upgrade to up to a third of the population stuck in HFC cable network areas. The recommendations of the review aren’t yet formal Government policy; but Turnbull has given the public no reason to expect they won’t be. In a new, 4,000 word article for Delimiter 2.0 (subscription required), I comprehensively track Turnbull’s first, critical 100 days in office in detail to see what he has achieved. A sample paragraph:

“It’s hard to imagine how things could have gone worse for Malcolm Turnbull in his first three months as Communications Minister. With the public rapidly turning on the Earl of Wentworth over his horribly unpopular new NBN policy, a growing perception that he’s stacking NBN Co with partisan staff and a lack of transparency verging on the hypocritical, it’s hard to find positives for the Earl of Wentworth from his initial period in office. Turnbull is truly fumbling the catch on both political and functional levels.”

This article predominantly looks back at Turnbull’s first 100 days, with a view to an earlier Delimiter 2.0 article listing the steps he would need to take in office. As I wrote back in August:

“It’s a common aphorism in political circles that the first 100 days of any government’s time in power are the most important. In that period, much foundational work is done that will underpin the next several years of delivery. Key planks of new policy are officially set in place and ministerial orders issued to departments, agencies and government-owned businesses. Important appointments are made, both to the offices of new Ministers, as well as public sector organisations. Previous government policy initiatives may be wound down or cut off before they begin, and staff members seen as being partial to the previous administration may be reassigned to less important roles or, occasionally, simply walked. New names are chiseled on the doors of offices. It’s a busy time.

And it’s important for new reigning parties — particularly those politicians taking on Ministerial responsibility — to get this time right.”

I think it’s safe to say at this point that Turnbull has not gotten his first 100 days in power right; in fact, he’s gotten them disastrously wrong, making little or even backwards progress on a range of fronts. It will be interesting to see if he can rectify his political and functioning mistakes in the next 100 days. Personally, as I wrote yesterday, I have no faith that he will.

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. “Destroy the NBN”, Renai.

    That’s all we need to remember.

    So far, the LNP’s plans are going exactly as we expected.

    I do hate to sound like a broken record, but this is what is happening.

    Some time soon they will announce some sort of review, delay things for a while, uncover some sort of “budget black hole” and modify the “NBN” into something a former shadow of itself that will not have the ability to be scaled up to FTTP in the future, entrenching the interest groups and their vice-like grip on the populace.

    What the LNP is doing flies in the face of data-comms around the world. We had a chance to do something truly world-class, now the only thing we will achieve is to become a laughing stock for better equipped countries

    These are dark days for comms in this country.

  2. Malcolm could always challenge for the leadership, but, why would the rest of the party accept him? Tony hasn’t done anything wrong yet (well, to be fair he hasn’t actually done anything at all yet).

  3. Who gives a toss? The governments job is not to build stuff. It’s job is to create the conditions under which private enterprise will invest in the building of stuff. The whole NBN fiasco was doomed from the moment Conroy took the thought bubble to Rudd. Kill it now before it consumes another cent.

    • Should we sell of all the roads too while we are at it.? I am sure the market will provide.

      • It’s funny because a few years ago after the 2010 election they were telling us to cancel the NBN to build more roads, schools and hospitals.

    • No roads, hospitals, rail, electricity or the copper network for that matter?

      Has the market provided telco infrastructure in the last decade?

      That is the point!

      This infrastructure needs to be built by the government – a private industry won’t build it.

    • The government’s job is not to build stuff… Well then, whose is it? It’s not the market’s job either, clearly, since that’s why they haven’t built stuff.

      P.S. “government’s” and “its”. You somehow managed to get them the wrong way around. No need to thank me.

  4. Apparently ” this is the bloke who invented the internet” says another bloke who is sitting on the top chair.

  5. It should be obvious to everyone by now that Turnbull and the Coalition have no intention of building a National Broadband Network. All they are interested in is tearing down Labor’s vision as effectively as possible. This new plan they’ve announced is categorically NOT an NBN. It is no different to what we have now – a mismatch of technologies that delivers a great service to some, but terrible performance to most.

    If anyone out there honestly believes Turnbull is suddenly going to turn around at some point soon and say, “You know what? This plan of ours really isn’t in the nation’s best interests. Let’s take another look at FTTH.” then all I can say is I’d love to know what substance you’re taking. Must be fun living in dream land.

    The NBN is dead. End of story.

  6. I agree. Halt the nbn.. Don’t waste time and good money after bad.. Leave it be till another day..

  7. Indeed. The only thing he’s “communicated” seems to have come from the marketing dept. All talk and promises.

  8. Unless they completely screw with legislation (for example allowing others to compete in economical areas), this is not irreversible.

    FTTP/FTTB will continue to roll out, while the first FTTN trials are to start in the second half of 2015, and HFC agreements are expected to be finalised in the second half of 2015. This is reasonably close to the next election. By that timeframe the first FTTN trials are not likely to complete before the election, or have only just completed. It will still be more expensive, with the existing FTTN investment and HFC needing to be used for at least 5 years to justify its likely investment, before a new government upgrades those areas to FTTP/FTTB.

    Scenario 6’s promise is that 43% of 12.8(?) million premises in the fixed-line footprint will have access to 25Mbps by 2016. This presumably includes around 2.5 million premises with FTTP and 2.5 million premises with HFC (with coax-lead-in). That leaves around 0.5 million premises expected to be connected with FTTN by 2016. These are estimates though; I don’t have the actual figures. A new government would still have to deal with the committed HFC investment, but not too many FTTN.

    The 2014 and 2015 Corporate Plans will be interesting reading.

  9. I have a Christmas question for anyone who voted Liberal.

    Did you get what you were told you were going to get?

    • Most people who voted Liberal have seen what we expected. The mess Labor created is bigger than expected and is going to take longer to repair.

      I’d like to think that if Labor had executed their NBNCo Corporate Plan with skill that we wouldn’t be discussing FTTN today, but the reality is even with the NBN Labor made poor, politically driven decisions (e.g. speed tiers, overbuild HFC, zero FTTN in rural areas, unrealistic ARPU growth, etc.) that meant it could never achieve the “1Gbps for all” spin.

      The reality is that the fibre take up numbers (49% on 12Mbps and 23% on 25Mbps), the difference between Labor & Liberal policy is insignificant. The Liberals understood this, Labor and their fanbois didn’t.

      • I like the part where you think Liberals and MT’s failings are all to blame on Labor. Labor ‘fanbois’ understand the importance of NBN, Liberal fanbois such as yourself have been sold a lemon and have readily licked up their ridiculous propoganda. I weep for Australias future thanks to Abbott, Turnbull and the Liberal Party.

  10. Look, to start with, the Liberal party does not care about progress. They are a party of book balancers. If the finances are good then all is right with the world.

    On the other hand, the Labor party likes to create and improve things. not always perfectly, but they try.

    Matthew said something about Labor’s mess. Please explain. Are you living in poverty. Is your house falling down, what are your real problems do you get good wages, do you have free Medicare, overtime etc.? Let us know.

    Labor gave you the 35 hour week (you aren’t forced to work on the weekends now without getting paid for it.) , medicare (free hospital care for all Australians), safety at work, overtime payments and many many other good initiatives. All Labor initiatives, nothing from the Liberals.

    On the NBN, the real reason we need the NBN ( Fibre To The Premesis – FTTP ) is that it is the most recent and most important upgrade to our communications infrastructure in decades. It aligns the digital above ground hardware with what will be a new digital cable hardware. This has needed to be done for a decade or more now and it needs to be done now. Don’t be selfish and think of your own “download and upload” speeds. The real benefits are for the entire communications infrastructure across the Australian continent.

  11. It doesn’t matter how badly he’s doing. What’s matters is how the MSM reports that he is doing. And so far, this bunch of fools is getting a pretty easy ride

  12. If Murdock had a brain he would support the FTTP as it is rolling out the cable for him to all Australians.
    All he has todo is mod his current boxes to plug into one for the 4 ports on the fiber box.
    No tech to install sat dish or hook up coax saves money

    • But that would mean that anybody else could do the same thing, which would mean competition.

      Rupert doesn’t like competition.

  13. Do you really think the first 100 days have been a disaster?
    Turnbull is not that stupid as this whole process was obviously planned ahead.

    1. Present an irresistibly appealling policy simply that the masses can identify with – ” Cheaper, faster, more affordable.”

    2. Take advantage of the ignorance of the general public.

    3. Get into government have a review.

    4, Discredit the previous NBN under Labor and blame them for their inability to meet their pre-election promises.

    In conclusion Turnbull has been able to achieve this as a consummate actor.
    Because he is that good at mistruth and skirting questions, nobody would never know when he is telling the truth or not.
    He is the quintessential politician.

  14. What you will see under Abbott and Turnbull will be FTTP in the “right” areas and FTTN crap in the ALP areas. and protection for the HFC owners

  15. Turnbull’s first 100 days have been a disaster

    Only going off the Australian Peoples KPI’s for him, his personal KPI success rate? 100%

  16. I think this article (or at least, this excerpt) confuses the reasons that the first 100 days are important. Certainly, the steps listed are very significant, but why they are more possible during the first 100 days as opposed to later in a term is the presumed goodwill that exists from having won an election, without any of the negatives inherent in implementing divisive policy. I would argue that in this instance there is no goodwill towards the NBN policy. As was visible from the widespread rejection of the Labor version of the NBN, this is simply a very divisive issue, which neither party has been able to overcome in popular opinion.

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