Turnbull loses Rupert Murdoch’s favour over ‘unaffordable’ $56 billion NBN


blog It hasn’t been a fantastic week for Malcolm Turnbull. First our intrepid Communications Minister was forced to stand up in front of Australia yesterday afternoon and announce that the Coalition’s version of the National Broadband Network might have blown out by a solid $15 billion. That was followed up by a piece on 7:30 in which the Member for Wentworth had to spend a great deal of time defending Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s backflip on a fibre connection for the far north Queensland town of Birdsville. And now this:

There were also a succession of rather amusing follow-up Tweets:

In one vein, Murdoch’s comments are hardly surprising. The NBN is widely viewed as a direct challenge to the Foxtel joint venture which News Corp partially owns with Telstra, and Murdoch has frequently been scathing with respect to the NBN.

However, as Buzzfeed points out, in a week when leadership speculation is starting to grip the Federal Liberal Party, Murdoch’s comments can also be interpreted as a direct sledge from Murdoch to Turnbull personally.

Murdoch, after all, is very well aware who is “in charge” of the NBN. It’s unclear if he has met with Turnbull over the past week, as he reportedly has with Abbott and Social Services Minister Scott Morrison — also seen in Canberra as a potential future Liberal Leader. But it would certainly be unusual if he hasn’t.

Turnbull, after all, is directly in charge of media regulation in Australia, an area which Murdoch’s Foxtel joint venture with Telstra clearly has a strong interest. Leaving the Member for Wentworth off Murdoch’s list during a trip Down Under at this point, taken together with the News Corp mogul’s sledge at the NBN, may be a signal indicating where Murdoch’s views on the subject of leadership lie.

Image credit: David Shankbone, Creative Commons


  1. While fibre NBN might be “great” for Foxtel, it’d be just as good for Netlix, Stan, Quickflix, etc. Considering Netflix is kicking Rupert/Foxtel’s arse subscriber wise, I’m not sure I buy into how keen he really is on it…

  2. How ungrateful can Murdoch get? Turnbull is expanding the HFC even further, the HFC that offers free access for Foxtel, saves them money having to maintain it, and gives them a huge advantage over their competitors. Or is this a push to force more and more of the NBN onto HFC or drop it all together. Of course the government would still have to maintain the HFC, it’s port of their deal with Telstra.

    • Maybe I am a suspicious old codger that has seen too many scams play out and doesn’t believe leopards can change their spots.
      A) HFC was going to be left as a pay TV network being maintained, upgraded and extended at Telstra and Foxtels cost, whilst the footprint may have been 30% of population, connections were far less and coverage even in footprint patchy.
      B) Now the taxpayer via GIMPco is contractually obligated to attend to those minor matters in A) at their cost, of course also to leasing the fibres from Telstra whilst paying them to maintain it all
      C) Sport is the killer app for Pay TV, Rugby is no longer part of the Foxtel/Sky package, competition is cutting in via Netflix et al . There is now a need to Kill FTTP altogether and reduce all non HFC areas to crippleware to reduce competition/threat to profits.

      This is just a heavy handed instruction to implement C) regardless of the consequences to Australia’s future, when has Rupe cared about the Nation he is operating in.?

      I must admit to seeing daily relevance to this quote
      ‘Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.’ – Albert Einstein

      Now he has handed over the reigns to SKY in the US, subtle or maybe not so subtle changes are happening.
      “Shepard Smith: Well this reminds me of two things. The article in the New York Times this weekend pointed out, it reminds you of exactly what the tobacco industry did back in the day, and more recently it also reminds you of what the climate deniers, the climate change deniers are doing as well.”

      “Spencer repeating the false claim of no global warming over the past 18 years. In reality, during that time the oceans, surface, and even the lower atmosphere have continued to warm. Unexpectedly, host Stuart Varney pushed back against this global warming denial, pointing out that 14 of the last 15 years have been the hottest on record, and Spencer was forced to admit that the planet has continued to warm.””

      Maybe a little off subject, yet signs of winds of change which must incorporate some of the articles in the unOz and News Ltd. I have actually been able to have posts appear on those sites (sometimes) for the first time in many years.

      PS Climate change will play expensive havoc with the copper and HFC and street active electronics

      • “Rugby is no longer part of the Foxtel/Sky package”???
        Maybe that’s the case for the NRL with their Nein deal, but not for rugby.
        Are you a Victorian?

    • I believe foxtel will be forced off HFC when its sold to the NBN, their usage rights for the Telstra HFC network dies with the sale.

      The NBN would be looking to use the extra bandwidth the foxtel channels are currently using as well.

    • Gotta love all the Liberal party apologists in the comments of that article still blaming Labor and saying the Coalition are just trying to “clean the mess up”. Hardly surprising for a news.com.au article. The Liberal party could take shooting refugees to an election and some of those nutters would still defend them.

    • You have to wonder if they have these stories prepared and see Rupy’s tweets and pull the trigger on them. It’s a half decent view of the world which didn’t get typed in 5 minutes.

    • Actually, you could see that coming before Rupert showed up. The only real options for the LNP “faithful” are Scott and Julie, and the LNP, being the LNP, Julie isn’t really an option

      • Harry is a very smart switched on guy.
        Has been an excellent writer on the NBN on Technology Spectator

  3. I’m surprised that they moved the border of Queensland and South Australia to the north of Queensland. :P

  4. Wow Uncy Rupe is really throwing TurnBULL under the bus, now this article in Noise Ltd:


    Originally, it was projected that the Coalition’s multi-technology plan would cost significantly less than the original all-fibre NBN, at $29.5 billion over six years. A review in late 2013 then found a realistic cost would more likely be $41 billion, before yesterday’s showed it realistically will be over $50 billion.

    Mr Turnbull tried to deflect from the problem, throwing blame at Labor and repeatedly trying to justify the costs by comparing it to the original all-fibre plan. But by doing so, he was just losing further support for his plan.

    The NBN is important, and most Australians know that, they also know that it’s going to cost a lot of money to construct and are happy to spend it.

    But where support is lost is with the complete lack of transperancy and honesty shown by both the government and the NBN. There’s no effort being made to show why costs keep blowing out despite using less fibre technology, or even why 700,000 homes suddenly won’t receive the superior fibre-to-the-premises connection, and instead will be connected to the inferior fibre-to-the-node. There’s no effort to explain why only 2100 homes will have access to FTTN next month now, or the realistic speeds those homes will receive.

    • You just know that when you design a National Network that was aimed at keeping the status quo and major players like Telstra, Foxtel, News Limited et al at the top of the media food chain and consumers at the bottom, and then Murdoch turns on you – you just know that YOU DONE FUCKED UP, SON.

    • Spot on.

      Murdoch has been deliberate in his attack against the NBN, he has lied about his intent, from the beginning. NBN FTTP is necessary and urgent. Unfortunately what is lacking from the debate is the cost of not having NBN FTTP. Each year it is delayed is costing small business billions. It was delayed and screwed for Murdoch, as he sees it as a threat. He also sees democracy on the web and democracy of tv is a great threat to his interests. He lives by monopoly, he had a monopoly and he is desperately hanging onto it. The cost isn’t to Jo Blow, wanting to get faster pron or more TV, the cost is to small business being unable to access services online in a reasonable timeframe, as Telstra has neglected us, and the Murdoch and the LNP mafia have delayed and confused the NBN role out. The cost to small business is just horrendous. There should be a royal commission into how you can screw up such a well setup NBN rollout in 2 years. It is criminal neglect and it needs urgent correction. Murdoch’s massive media dictatorship has to go, LNP has to disentangle itself from corporations. Our media is broken, therefore all else is broken. No accountability. The attack on ABC is predictable, but unacceptable.

  5. Talk about buyer beware: Telstra is not required to inform the purchaser (the Australian taxpayer) about the quality of what it is selling; the buyer just pays up, takes all the risk and everyone is supposed to be happy with that.

    “EMMA ALBERICI: The corporate plan you released today talks about a copper rehabilitation strategy – in other words, getting the Telstra copper up to the point where you can rely on it to go to the home from the node where the fibre will end. You say there that the quality of that copper network is still not fully known. How is it that nearly two years after the shift to the Coalition’s NBN, management still don’t know what it will cost to fix Telstra’s copper network?

    BILL MORROW: Well – so, first of all, we had to get the agreements done with Telstra. They wouldn’t release information, and rightfully so; they shouldn’t until we had those deals done.”


    • Yeah, I was pretty gob smacked that they bought the CAN without knowing it’s exact condition…

      But then, they have blown Malcolms “cheaper” out by $15b…

      • Whats worse is Telstra have the maintenance and repair contract I believe as part (well above the $11 Billion).

        Buying both HFC’s I really hope that was truly worth it too.

        • Actually they only bought the headers/active electronics and the coax, they are leasing the fibre from Telstra.
          Those Telstra shareholder employees and management have truly improved their share values and dividends

          • Speaking of which, did all the nbn management team off load their Telstra shares? I vaguely recall talk of them needing to, but don’t recall if they actually did?

          • @Tinman_au Nope, they were all allowed to keep them!

            Talk about foxes running the hen house, more fodder for a royal commission imo!

            I also wonder whether or not an ALP gov could use that blatant conflict of interest to render the Telstra v2.0 agreement null and void?

          • I think they need to expand any RC out to cover all the dodgy deals the LNP have done this term (the whole Adani thing springs to mind), not just the NBN.

    • “They wouldn’t release information, and rightfully so; they shouldn’t until we had those deals done.”
      Did he seriously say that information on the quality of the network nbn was purchasing shouldn’t be known until after the purchase?!?

      Hey Morrow, I have a lightning fast fibre in my pocket you can have for a cool one billion. I won’t tell you how it can service all of Australias communication needs without electricity, but you’ll find out after the money has been deposited in my off shore account and I have left the country.

      • Hotcakes they won’t be interest as its from the wrong spot on periodical table Cu for life!

  6. Even Ruprecht must have got a chuckle out of the “we thought you were” and the remote not working responses!

    But when the evil empire starts to turn on you, it’s time Mal started his retirement plan to relocate to France where he can live on his FTTP investments, with the occasional trip down under for Telstra boardroom lunches…

  7. I heard on a Triple J hack interview with Morrow that they have a general understanding of the status copper network based on the number of tickets (complaints?) given. In these circumstances alternate measures would be provided to avoid having to rely on the copper. I am unsure whether it was the responsibility of Telstra to front the cost of the premises effected or that of NBN.

    I think there are a lot of measures included within this deal that when revealed will either scare or relieve people, I am certainly in the frightened corner when it comes to dealing with Telstra and their very poor copper deal.


    • Had comments on I think ZDnet to the effect that contractors when bidding for work were required to include cost of replacing rubbish copper. Hearsay, but not out of the question with this pack

  8. “I think there are a lot of measures included within this deal that when revealed will either scare or relieve people”

    Not wrong. I’m of the mind that a Royal Commission would actually be warranted for the whole thing…

    • +1 I think we need to push this idea fairly hard – frankly the behaviour of TurnBull et al in this has been utterly disgusting and imo a pure demonstrable Fraud has been perpetrated on the Australian Nation!

  9. I think Rupert Murdoch is being a bit slippery.

    MT launched his “$29 billion, cheaper, faster, sooner” mess at Foxtel HQ in April 2013. He has been all about boosting share value for Foxtel’s owners, Telstra and News Ltd, ever since.

    Now the chickens are roosting all over him, and we actually have a “$56 billion, dearer, slower, later” Malcolm Turnbull Mess.

    There are two ways for Foxtel to make more money from the NBN, by excluding competitors, or by increasing the pool of customers able to access high end services using fibre. Taxpayers and the ACCC are entitled to demand the latter approach.

    The elephant in the room, however, is that building an all-fibre urban NBN generates double the wholesale revenue ($36 ARPU vs $18 on FTTN cf MT pre-election), but costs less than double to build and operate.

    Because the NBN is an off-budget, self-funding project, it is a fiction that building low-revenue FTTN/HFC is cheaper, because its build cost will take longer to recover from user revenue than all-fibre.

    The politics and posturing of the players are fun to watch, but this is our NBN they are harming, and that hurts the national interest. Follow the money, and what is happening borders on criminality.

  10. “NBN would be great for Foxtel…”

    Rupert professes too much. I still reckon he and Abbott conspired to destroy FTTP to help Rupert milk his payTV monopoly as long as possible, in return for NewsCorp’s rabid backing of Abbott over Gillard/Rudd. Call it a conspiracy theory but I’ve seen nothing to convince me otherwise.

    • Russ, that is because there is nothing there which points to anything other than what you state, Murdoch’s leaning on the LNP to look after him, $900 million in tax break, $200 million Australian Network gifted to Murdcock, Attacks on ABC, Delaying NBN, who knows what else. He is the most damaging individual to Australia’s democracy ever seen.

  11. Government cost blow out, is that not another word for massive jump in corporate profits. 15 Billion dollars pays a lot in offshore tax haven bribes, an awful lot. Some blow outs do not occur by accident. With the Liberal Party expecting to lose the next election, they’ll be looking to dig the snouts as deep into the trough as possible whilst they still can.

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