Has Labor already given up on its NBN?



opinion/analysis The new Coalition Government appears dead set on drastically winding back, modifying, selling off or otherwise destroying Labor’s comprehensive National Broadband Network vision. But the party which started the project in the first place appears to have already given up fighting this demolition job, with the exception of dogmatic former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

If you have been following news surrounding the previous Labor Government’s flagship National Broadband Network initiative since the Federal Election in September, you would be very hard pressed to escape the conclusion that Tony Abbott’s Coalition administration was doing its very best to deliver on the Prime Minister’s 2010 pledge to “demolish” the project.

In September, shortly after taking office, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull ordered NBN Co to halt planning efforts for its existing Fibre to the Premises model in most areas. The MP then put a crack team of his own executives into the company, who promptly delivered a report stating that the best model for deploying the network in up to a third of Australia, including key metropolitan areas, was to stop deploying it and re-use existing HFC cable networks.

Most of the rest of Australia is set to receive technically inferior and short-sighted Fibre to the Node connections, despite the fact that even new NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski has acknowledged many premises with that technology will start to need upgrades after just five years.

That announcement was quickly followed by the news that Tasmania would no longer receive a full FTTP rollout — despite state politicians from both sides pleading with Turnbull on the issue. And now speculation has openly begun about NBN Co selling off the satellite and wireless components of its rollout.

It must be said, at this point, that Turnbull is doing an absolutely fantastic job of demolishing the NBN. Most of the planned rollout cancelled, with existing networks to take its place and other portions of the NBN sold off? That’s definitely not the Coalition “completing” the NBN, as Turnbull has repeatedly claimed. That’s winding Labor’s vision back wholesale, with a little cherry on top for Telstra and Optus in the form of cash payments for the HFC cable networks they stopped extending a decade ago.

From the Liberal point of view, this approach makes complete sense: As Turnbull has stated many times, a Coalition Government would have never gone down the path of re-constructing a national telecommunications monopoly from scratch. Left to its own devices, the Coalition would love to privatise Australian institutions such as Australia Post, the ABC and SBS. It’s hardly a stretch to see NBN Co on the same auction block.

However, what is surprising is Labor’s apparent willingness to play along with the Coalition’s plans.

I met with Labor MPs Jason Clare and Michelle Rowland shortly after they were respectively appointed Shadow Communications Minister and his Assistant Minister in mid-October last year. At the time, I reminded both that the Australian electorate was very much on Labor’s side in this debate; that Australians in general deeply supported Labor’s NBN policy and that there was even a popular movement in existence completely independent of Labor trying to push the Coalition to back Labor’s existing FTTP vision.

I also reminded both of Turnbull’s habit of dominating national debate on any issue through the Liberal MP’s constant and incessant use of traditional and social media. To tackle Turnbull head on on this issue, I said at the time, a Shadow Minister would need to use the same tools — blogging regularly, using platforms such as Twitter, and constantly staying on the Earl of Wentworth like a full back marking a star full forward.

Most of the Australian public wants Labor’s NBN vision, not the Coalition’s watered down alternative. But in Opposition and in Government, Turnbull has constantly been able to keep control the national NBN debate because he never stops talking. I’m not kidding when I say that often journalists get statements from Turnbull on various issues every day.

In comparison, Labor’s MPs just don’t seem able to talk about the NBN at all, despite the fact that it’s their own policy Turnbull is currently demolishing.

Clare hasn’t issued a press release on the NBN since 18 February — a whole month — and in fact has only spoken publicly about the issue a half dozen times in the entirety of 2014. Last week, as the Twittersphere went berserk in anger over impolite comments by Turnbull towards a rural Victorian small business owner on the issue of the NBN, Clare and Rowland appeared more focused on having their photo taken with the Bananas in Pyjamas and the Wiggles.

Despite her fiery parliamentary record supporting the NBN, the issue has also been largely absent from recent speeches given and media releases issued by Michelle Rowland, with the MP appearing to be taking her other role as the Shadow Minister for Citizen and Multiculturalism more seriously, as well as the needs of her local (extremely marginal) electorate in Western Sydney.

Rowland did pop up in a piece on iTWire on telehealth several weeks ago, but it was promptly squashed by Turnbull. And even that issue was then bungled further by Labor, with Senator Helen Polley issuing a garbled press release last week following up on the issue and relating it to NBN Co’s launch of a medical alarm device register, but hopelessly confusing the issues and technology in a way which definitely netted Labor no ground and was ignored by most of the media wholesale.

There are other Labor parliamentarians who are passionate about the NBN — Ed Husic, Kate Lundy and Tim Watts, to name a few — but Labor appears to have muzzled the lot. Even if it hasn’t, they certainly aren’t out there talking about Turnbull’s demolishing act on the project.

As for Labor leader Bill Shorten, I encourage you to comb through the many, almost daily speeches and press releases Shorten has issued over the past six months. I guarantee you’ll find the words “National Broadband Network” are only mentioned a couple of times. In this area, Shorten is proving himself even less aware of technology issues than Tony Abbott, if that was possible. At least Abbott is able to mouth the same slogans with respect to the NBN that the Coalition came up with before the Federal Election. Shorten appears to have forgotten the issue exists at all.

The only Labor politician who is active on the NBN is, as you would expect, its creator Senator Stephen Conroy, who despite his new posting as Shadow Defence Minister can’t help butting his nose in continuously on the issue, especially in the fraught Senate Select Committee which has been set up to investigate the Coalition’s demolition job on the project. The irony is that, even as Shadow Defence Minister, Conroy’s still doing a better job of getting press coverage in the portfolio than Clare or Rowland.

Now, let me make something clear: From a personal point of view, I like both Jason Clare and Michelle Rowland. Both are very solid MPs: Educated, erudite, ethical, and grounded in their local electorates while also taking on higher-level national policy issues. They were both good appointees to the Shadow Minister in the Communications area, and they still have time before the next Shadow Cabinet reshuffle to make their mark. They have competent staff assisting them.

But let’s make no bones about it: Both, and indeed Labor as a whole, are fumbling the catch here.

They have been handed a gift horse — a national issue which the population cares deeply about, and is overwhelmingly on Labor’s side. As the continued vitriol towards Turnbull personally shows, the Australian public deplores what is happening to Labor’s NBN project. It’s widely acknowledged that Labor bungled its execution when in Government, but that doesn’t give the Coalition licence to tear it down.

Yet Labor is largely ignoring this issue; leaving it up to a small number of technology and business commentators who still follow the project to represent the public’s views on the issue. As a journalist this is extremely frustrating. It’s quite difficult to hold the Government of the day to account if the Opposition is acting like a wet noodle. Even a top-grade assault rifle can’t fire at the enemy if it doesn’t have ammunition.

It’s difficult to divine the source of Labor’s lack of interest in the NBN. The passion which MPs such as Rowland, Husic and Watts personally hold for the communications portfolio is extremely evident. I can’t imagine a scenario where this trio in particular isn’t champing at the bit to get out there and take on a high-profile Liberal Minister such as Malcolm Turnbull on a daily basis, especially given the MP’s continued gaffes in this area, and the antagonistic approach he’s taking to his critics and the media alike. Then, too, Labor MPs can hardly be unaware of the public’s continued disapproval of the Coalition’s approach in this area.

Perhaps it is the case, as Paula Matthewson writes in The Drum today, that Labor can’t lay a punch on the Coalition because it is implicated in the same problems the new Government is trying to solve. From the refugee situation to the NBN, there is no doubt that Labor shares much of the blame for the ongoing failures of our national administration.

Then too, perhaps there isn’t a lot of impetus from Labor’s top ranks on this issue. Shorten has shown he has little interest in the Communications portfolio, despite his importance. It is possible, given Labor’s failures in the area in the past, that Labor’s elite has muzzled its MPs from getting too involved in the topic publicly. Conroy is probably senior enough to ignore such an edict, but other MPs may not be.

But this shouldn’t excuse Labor from pushing this topic. The NBN is a national infrastructure project of critical importance. Against the express desires of the population, and in a manner which makes little practical sense in the long term, Tony Abbott’s administration is drastically watering it down and may even sell parts of it off. If Labor allows the current trend to proceed unchecked, that will be as great a crime, in my eyes, as the Coalition’s own demolition job. No parent should abandon their child, no matter how troubled they are, and the NBN project hasn’t even reached puberty yet.

Image credit: Labor


  1. Excellent article Renai. Do you have any advice as to what us mere mortals can do (other than realising that we’re not ‘mere mortals’ & should be able to make a difference)?

    • I’m hoping my non-Liberal vote in the WA election coming up will make a small difference.. :\

      • Labor should be hammering this topic in WA, but as far as I can tell from the east there is not a word.

        • So very true. I’ve heard zero about this topic over here in WA. The commercials and news paper spam has started, but just the usual slow motion black and white dodgy looking politicians on them with what the other party has done wrong and not what the party will actually do for us…

        • This is how it’s going down here in the West:
          – Libs are hammering Carbon/Mining tax
          – Palmer etc are shouting “hey, we no Libs” and then Carbon/Mining tax
          – Greens are pushing the Shark Cull and are saying “Scott Ludlam Bitches!”
          – ALP are trying to link Abbott to WA State gov health/education cuts

    • My suggestion would be to link this article to all the above mentioned Labor MPs (via Twitter, email, blogs etc.) and get them to respond with something. Either they’ll ignore it (which vindicates everything Renai has said), respond saying that yes they have given up on the NBN, or respond saying no they haven’t given up on it.

      Whether anything comes of that later on, who knows.

    • I don’t know what we can do. I wrote (snail mail) to Jason Clare several months ago pointing out some dubious points in the Coalition’s NBN strategic review and suggesting a possible line of attack. I didn’t even get an acknowledgment let alone a response.

  2. What is there that can be done.? Not being in Govt.and having no support from the Murdoch media or Telstra, they are all powerless.
    I guess they think the best thing is to let them fall on their sword.

    • Fair summary. When they were in opposition, if Abbott sneezed the MSM would run a story about the health system needing improvement. If he questioned why Meatloaf sang at the AFL Grand Final, the next day MSM would be debating immigration. Too much salt in his dinner? Papers would talk about the salt mines of Peru. Or something. The kowtowing to the Lib’s was overwhelming.

      Labor questions Manus Island, it gets 2 inches on page 34.

      Liberals have the better politicians,while Labor has the better policies. Its just a shame that the MSM gives the Lib’s a huge step up with the constant lack of neutrality they show.

      And they get away with it, because the people who should be monitoring them dont. Like with their “VOTE THIS MOB OUT” banner headline when the election was announced.

      • @GongGav: “Liberals have the better politicians,while Labor has the better policies.”

        I disagree strongly that the LNP has “the better politicians”. I think what you’re saying is something like, “the LNP have people who are better at playing tactical political games without regard to the best long-term outcomes for the Australian public.” That in no way to me represents them being “better politicians”.

        We need to hold our political ‘leaders’ to a much higher standard. If we decide that the standards currently in play by most politicians from both major parties/coalitions are anywhere near acceptable, then we’ve already lost any hope of changing them for the better.

          • I think the “Better Politicians” is more along the lines of the fact the the libs are better at playing the politics game (stay in power, no matter the costs), whereas Labour seemed to do things that would actually benefit Australians.
            Of course this wouldn’t apply to every single politician/policy, but it definitely seems the case from an NBN point of view.

  3. It is frustrating in the extreme. Labor appears to be MIA as the opposition and Shorten is about as effective an opposition leader as the invisible man.

    The dismembering of the NBN should be a gift that keeps giving for Labor and it’s quite inexplicable how they’re not championing probably their single best policy when they were in government.

    For bonus points, they could hit Abbott over the head as the so-called ‘infrastructure prime minister’ by pointing out his reckless destruction of Australia’s biggest piece of infrastructure in decades!

    What else do they have? Even the scalp of Arthur Sinodinos is a limited victory as Labor has too much skin in the game with union corruption and the Obeids, etc. They can’t have a go at them about boat people as they lurched to the far right on that themselves. The carbon tax remains unpopular in the electorate and to a lesser extent, the mining (non)tax.

    Labor only really has a few minor sticks to hit the gov, including extreme secrecy/non-transparency, repeal of consumer protections under the guise of ‘red’ tape (similarly ‘green tape’ for environmental protections) drip-fed, workchoices reintroduction, freedom of speech repeals, etc.

    But the biggest stick of all, which will run the entire course of the term, is being totally ignored (probably because there are no ‘tech-heads’ in senior Labor ranks and therefore they cannot grasp how much of a game changer a FTTP NBN really was).

    I don’t see Shorten lasting very long, and I’m not sure about Albo…

  4. I would argue that Labor haven’t just given up on the NBN – they’ve given up completely. So far their strategy for opposition appears to consist mostly of sitting quietly and doing SFA while Abbott et al make a right bloody mess of things.

      • I’m not convinced that this is actually true. From my understanding of QT and reporting, our ‘lovely’ government are doing everything in their power to kill informed public debate and discourse.

        We are currently witnessing the destruction of the Westminster System that Australia via a concerted campaign by the Coalition and a completely partisan Speaker who make new standing orders designed to thwart the entire point of question time.

        In opposition, they adhered to the argument culture, by shouting as loud as they could about ‘ineffective’ government and now that they are in government they take a similar approach, shutting down any chance of real debate with standing orders eliminating the need for response from MPs.

        It’s basically a case of being dragged in to the mud and being beaten with experience for the Labor Party.

  5. Politicians spend their lives at meetings and dinners and other parliamentary functions, they have a host of office staff that handle all their mail, communications and research and at the end of the day the results are presented by the staffers on a sheet of paper to the politician. The politicians then proceed to spin out the staffers reports.
    Remember “I’m no tech head Kerry” being interviewed when it was quite apparent that Abbott had no idea what the internet was, for him it was just an entertainment system for geeks.
    It was apparent that he never used it probably even for email. His staff were used for all his leg work, whist he played the social butterfly.
    Politicians views about what the public wants are shaped by the letter volumes received in their offices about subjects. Abbott comes from Warringah and 75% of the letters would be about “bad roads” due to the huge insoluble traffic problems in his electorate 9 lanes in and out of the area no rat runs anywhere and no chance of any new freeways (they would have to run through extremely wealthy areas like Castlecrag) and the cost of any solution is unaffordable. His electorate is not marginal so he has no intention of solving traffic problems in Warringah but he can promote himself as fixing traffic problems by promoting solutions in cheaper areas.
    Politicians are essentially an extremely perverse form of salesmen.
    The Rhodes scholar is simply selling the views of the 75% of his letter writers, that’s why he wants to be known as the minister for roads, the internet is pretty good in Warringah it’s recently settled and it’s wiring modern and most users business orientated so there are few complaints, he regards the broadband issue as irrelevant “just a bunch of noisy, game playing, illegally downloading, nerds. Politicians also think the “electorate think’s like them”, because they are voted in.

    Politicians of all persuasions don’t understand the broadband issue, none of them use it, their lives revolve about being social butterflies and selling themselves, they are voted in, the people think just like them.

    The only way to fix the problem is to bombard them with letters organize, vote them out.

  6. Both the Greens and Labor have ineffective leaders, that have to be moved on quickly and more effective people put into leadership.
    Labor have only one person that has any chance of leadership and that’s Bowen, the Greens probably have to go for Brandt. The changes have to be made fairly soon and not at five minutes to midnight, both opposition parties have to have coherent policy and make sure that a “game show host” like Rudd isn’t popped up.

  7. The ALP are not really in a position to have an alternate national NBN policy yet. By the time 2016 rolls around things could be very different to how we seem now. That said, I think it’s far more likely the ALP will campaign on a seat by seat basis re NBN. They will be able to prosecute a convincing case that specific members of the electorate have been discriminated against.

    I think it’s telling that most of the attacks from the left have been launched by Conroy, and he’s draw a lot of return fire from Turnbull. But it’s hard to see how deamonising Conroy will help the LNP much in 2016 or 2019 when he is not the alternate Comms minister and the ALP will – in all liklihood – be presenting a new policy to the electorate.

    I think it makes (political) sense for Clare to go dark on this issue and let Conroy do the barking. ATM the only people truly outraged by the MTM NBN are the techies who know what it means. Turnbull might get away with hurling abuse at his critics for now. But I don’t think a strategy of telling potentially millions of users frustrated with their hopelessly congested HFC connections it’s because they’re ignorant and missinformed is going to go over terribly well.

  8. Isn’t this what politics used to be like? Statements made now and then, debate, policy discussion.

    Is the problem that you and others have grown too used to the Turnbull’s need to talk crap for hours on end on every topic. To rubbish everything the opposite plans? ie Pre Abbott/Turnbull potty mouth politics.

    • Come to think about it. With all the hundreds of interviews and thousands of words Turnbull has produce on the CBN, he has really imparted stuff all information. A less verbose person, one isn’t just talking to stop others talking, you could probably say everything Turnbull has in a minute or two.

  9. I like the idea of Labor taking the fight over the NBN to the LNP, but where exactly are they supposed to find the ground for the battle.

    The Murdoch press is essentially the PR arm of the Coalition, Fairfax is not far behind and the ABC is cowering in a fetal position.

    TV follows the press and most people, for good or ill, get their news from TV.

    So where does this great debate take place, on Twitter?

          • The MSM did a pretty good job of not noticing 100,000 people marched in protest of the government. The articles that did report it weren’t very good with numbers, 1000s becoming 100s, etc.

          • Most “thorough” story I saw mentioned the numbers correctly, or near enough, but watered it down by focussing on the mixed message being sent. People were protesting every little thing that had happened all at once, and that apparently meant that one issue didnt stand out from the rest, so there mustnt be anything significantly wrong.

            It was like they didnt want to recognise that it was a protest at EVERYTHING this Government has done to date, rather than just 1 specific thing. Couldnt possibly be that people were upset across the board, could it?

          • It’s amazing that the same people claiming 100,000 is insignificant where they ones playing up the 300 Alan Jones managed to get together to protest Gillard.

          • Indeed it is, MSM have dropped so many ‘real’ reporters (no offence meant to those that are left, your just too few to put in the required time) and they leave the investigative stuff to 4 Corners and the Indies. There’s more to it of course, but that’s the ‘nutshell’ version anyway…

  10. I always thought Turnbull’s job was to demolish support for Labour’s NBN, but now I realise it was actually to demolish the NBN. And your right Renai, he’s doing a fine job.

  11. I hope your not giving up on the NBN labor it is the most far sighted item you have in your repertoire of good policies, keep on fighting for the NBN it makes fighting for labor much more solid and meaningful.

  12. There’s a few different aspects to this I think.

    One is that both the major parties are very similar now (by design). it’s to make it easier for people to swing vote. I suspect Labor don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ and draw attention to real differences between the parties (sort of like keeping as minimal a target as possible). The LNP does it too (almost to parody/satire levels with stuff like ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’).

    Another is Bill is a bit of an ‘also ran’ from what I can see, even when he was with the AWU he wasn’t exactly what you call inspirational. Nice guy and all, but not exactly a leader. He wants to present a very “un-Rudd-like” Labor I suspect, in line with my first point.

    There are some token differences (like the Libs grafting business more than workers), but secrecy aside, their refugee policies are basically the same. Most of the body/aim of their policies are the same with only the window dressing/frilly bits as a difference (NDIS tweaked here, Gonksi tweaked there).

    I suspect the Libs are kind of wedded to the “alternate NBN” idea after all the political capital they spent on it as a differential, otherwise they’d probably be on board a FttP NBN (after a bit of a song and dance/smoke and mirrors “fixing” it up). But Malcolm took it too far to go back now really, if he went back to FttP it’d be seen as a back down, not a “fixing up”, and I don’t think his ego has room for that…

  13. It would be interesting to hear from Jason Clare and Michelle Rowland on the possible reasons they’ve reduced voicing dissent on the Coalitions NBN rollout.

  14. Maybe Labor have come to the realisation that beyond the headline grabbing fiber to the premises, that their policy was a mess. People should remember that in 2008 Labor policy was FTTN and it was only a recalcitrant Telstra that stopped the implementation.

    The fact that in April 2013, 47% of NBN fiber connections were 12Mbps presents a serious problem to Labor, because FTTN, HFC, 4G and approaching half of ADSL connections will deliver that sp3d and more. Don’t forget that only 70% of premises passed by fiber were predicted by Labor to connect.

    Labor failed to sell the benefits of the NBN while in office. I would argue this is because of poorly thought out policy. For example, Labor’s eHealth initiatives fall flat because either the examples are hospital based and therefore irrelevant or not everyone has a high speed connection as Quigley was famously quoted it isn’t possible on a basic NBN service. RSPs are yet to provide 1Gbps plans despite Labor announcing the speed prior to the 2010 election, NBNCo finaly offering them plans in December 2013. The electorate correctly stopped believing Labor could deliver promises.

    It is unlikely that most in the electorate have read gems like “less than 5% will have 1Gbps in 2028” in Labor’s NBNCo Corporate Plan, for which I expect Labor are very grateful. I mean seriously when other countries are building 1/1Gbps symmetric networks, it would be extremely generous to describe Labor’s NBN as average today, let alone in a decade’s time. I could discuss ARPU, but will simply suggest that Labor’s plan for it to rise to above $100/month is unlikely to be looked upon favourably by the electorate.

    In summary if Clare and Rowland actually understand Labor’s failed NBN policy they are exhibiting wisdom by remaining quiet.

    • You are quoting statistics and data that are now irrelevant given the changes to the policy.

      Do you intend to quote (now) irrelevant figures for the next three years to blame another party for an incumbents failures?

      Just asking.

      It’s like blaming the same person for a crop of corn that wasn’t harvested well in 1972, for one that was more poorly harvested today.

      People need to hold the incumbent government to task for the current policies they are enacting, or it’s just a waste of time and oxygen.

      • People need to define what is acceptable as a basic standard. Labor defined it as 12Mbps. The Liberals as 25Mbps.

        Hopefully Turnbull remembers his promise to provide direct fibre. If it is under $3000 and doesn’t include sped tiers, then all will be okay with the world.

        • Hopefully Turnbull remembers his promise to provide direct fibre. If it is under $3000 and doesn’t include sped tiers, then all will be okay with the world.

          Hahahaha. Good joke.

          I’m hesitant to inform you that your lord and protector will not deliver.

        • What a compelling argument Mathew…

          You have continually ignored everything else contained within the Corporate Plan and in true groundhog day fashion, grasped one thing you thought you could utilise to vainly attempt to chastise the real NBN.

          You told and told and keep telling us about 50%/12mbps, daily at many blogs, for 4 years (or thereabouts) and claimed the real NBN unaffordable to the battler, because it shouldn’t have speed tiers.

          Yet you appear to support the alternate (up to?) 25mbps…which let’s face it would be less affordable than 12mbps and which has already been admitted will not happen in the government’s promised timeframe. In fact it’s been suggested it maybe won’t happen at all and in response to the rightly aimed criticisms towards the now/current complete fuck up (with all those other negative areas you completely ignore) you resort to… you guessed it, the groundhog day argument again…


    • “Maybe Labor have come to the realisation that beyond the headline grabbing fiber to the premises, that their policy was a mess”

      All evidence to the contrary…Labor’s POLICY was a stroke of genius, their implementation was a dog’s breakfast. However, they can be consoled in the fact that as badly as they screwed up the rollout, the LNP are doing far, far worse.

      While you rant and rave about meaningless and heavily skewed (and very old) numbers, while using a Ouiji board to predict their true meaning according to your agenda, please be bathed in warmth that the LNP are maintaining their long standing emphasis on completely trashing the telecommunications of Australia…job well done! Thank God we no longer have a Science Minister here, because the Liberals have known for some time that education of the masses is BAD.

  15. The Labor party were AWOL in the last election & still are. All I see, hear or read about is the opinions of Coalition politicians. If Labor don`t start fighting fire with fire right now & all the way up to the next election then it won`t just be the end of the real NBN.
    You don`t win an argument by being the quiet guy in the corner, It`s time the Labor party took a machine gun to a knife fight. It`s time to unleash Conroy, he`s the only Labor party member who can single-handedly tear the Coalition`s throat out and expose these clowns for what they really are.

  16. Actually I see it as a waste of time and effort.
    The MSM promotion and glorification of Abbott and the LNP Government with the token negative articles to provide “balance” will ensure re-election in 2016 regardless of what we want to believe. We are dealing with those described in the phrase in which the term “the Lucky Country” was first introduced.
    Labor has been suitably chastised and will in future follow the script laid down by our rulers.

    For perspective, and note Labor of the day (under Hawke the Rhodes scholar trained to serve his masters) is fully complicit in the slaughter of thousands and the torture of so many more. It took Portugal the previous colonising power fighting for justice to get the UN involved.
    Woodside and it’s partners and shareholders hands are awash with the blood of innocents


    Look after big business and it’s shareholders at any cost even if fouling our nest for the future

    Then in furtherance, not only Aust


  17. Labor elected a quiet leader. So the party is quiet.

    Albo would have been the better man; up to ‘fighting torries’ and been a bit more of a blunt instrument.

    NBN is all Conroy and Rudd, though. Gillard wasn’t overly interested and much of the party was silent on the merits, even when in government, despite it being a half-decent attempt at fixing some of the god-awful mess.

    Frankly I presume Labor see it as a dead policy now. It has support but they could never undo the damage Turnbull and expedient politics are doing.

    • “It has support but they could never undo the damage Turnbull and expedient politics are doing.”

      Agreed, however Albo was already being conciliatory to Ruperts stooges, that is why they supported him in the media for the member vote for Labors leader

    • As far as Shorten goes, I get the impression that he’s there more to provide stability to the ALP (which is needed after their last term), I don’t think he’ll be there gunning for the top job in 2016.

      I can’t imagine being appointed to the head of a party that’s newly in opposition is all that desirable a job anyway.

      Did anyone expect Brendan Nelson to be still Opposition Leader in 2010?

      As far as the NBN goes, I suspect that if Labor gets elected in 2016, they’ll probably end up deciding that it’s better politically to complete the MTM CBN than to start from scratch yet again.

      • Depends how much damage the Liberals manage to do to the NBN first. (If those FTTB deployments and how they’ll impact NBN Co’s finances are any indication, the Liberals may be able to do quite a bit). Clare, Rowland, Conroy and other Labor figures have made it clear their policy is fibre to the premises, and sooner rather than later. If they do cave in to MTM, at the very least they’ll build in the upgrade path to FTTP, which is shamefully absent from the current Liberal policy.

    • I think they are quiet on it because even most of them don’t understand the real benefit of it. In New Zealand, Grimes, Ren and Stevens found that “firms with broadband are approximately 10% more
      productive than similar firms with no broadband.”


      If you relate that back to Australia, and if only 50% of Aussie business benefits, thats still a $83b a _year_ boost to GDP…

      This was also why I thought Julia Gillards NBN business training idea was actually a good one. Building an NBN shouldn’t be the “end game”, getting businesses, citizens and governments using it productively should be the “end game”.

      Malcolm’s CBN is the one that’s just for “teh torretz” and facebook junkies, as usual, the LNP totally missed the whole point of the exercise. If he were serious about it as a national productivity tool, he wouldn’t have used something even he says will have to be upgraded in 5 years, he would have used something with more reliability than the current CAN and he wouldn’t have killed the training to show SME how to get the most from it.

      The LNP have effectively “cut off their nose to spite their face”, rather than boost SME like Labor was trying to do…

      edit: Crap spelling :)

  18. “a Coalition Government would have never gone down the path of re-constructing a national telecommunications monopoly from scratch”

    At least it would have given then something to sell. The way they are going, they’ll have nothing to sell but will have to find a fair bit of money to fill in and subsidise the bits the private sector does not want to service.

    Just because MT is dominating social media, it’s not as if it seems to be winning him too many friends. If the punters are doing the Opposition members work, isn’t that a clever use of scarce resources?

  19. What is this belief that the NBN is important to the electorate? It has never been important to the electorate, yes it was ”popular” and in that given the choice to be given it or not, people said sure I’ll have it but it never ranked high in importance and now the election is over, it has fallen off the radar. No one cares.

      • What evidence? It made no difference to the election, has made no difference in by-elections, does not exist as news outside of the tech world, it is simply not a topic of any import in the wider community.

        • Evidence that you’re wrong:


          “A landmark report handed down yesterday into the Coalition’s loss in the 2010 Federal Election has highlighted a failure to adequately respond to Labor’s flagship National Broadband Network plan as a key reason for losing valuable votes, especially in the sensitive Tasmanian electorate, which is receiving the network before the rest of the nation.”

          • + 1

            Had the exact same argument (yes argument) and linked the same autopsy from Peter Reith and the Libs as exhibit 1… with alain (yes we all remember him pre-election… but where is he now?) on multiple occasions, and even out of the Reith horses fucking mouths, he nonetheless bluntly refused to accept it too…

          • A report concerning the 2010 election is evidence the NBN is an important issue in 2014? I think you just proved my argument for me.

            Seat of Bass, 2013 Election, Liberal gain from Labor Swing +10.78

            So either the Coalitions current NBN policy taken to the election of 2013 was good in the eyes of the electorate in Bass or, the NBN ultimately made little difference other than at the fringes.

            Also if you had read Reiths report you would see he cites the party’s poor result in South Australia as evidence of the need for “policy relevance”, especially on water management and in NSW timing of preselection in Lindsay and the choice of candidate in Robertson. Is SA water management as important to the electorate as the NBN? probably not, but Reiths report was not into how important the NBN was, it was what the Coalition could have done in seats to win.

    • The NBN is only unimportant to ultra conservatives still living in the 1950’s, who are frightened by technology…

  20. Labor’s NBN, with adjustments, is still the right thing to do. Nothing has changed in that regard. Why anyone has another view is because they are ignoring worldwide developments. Everything is pointing to FTTP if you do not own the existing copper network (we don’t, Telstra does). Governments on both sides are only too happy to continue to pour billions into roads. This should be the same with telecommunications. If not, don’t worry about the economy and how Australia could compete economically.

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