Turnbull a ‘failure’ as Comms Minister, says Jason Clare


news The Opposition has accused Malcolm Turnbull of being a “failure” as a Communications Minister, highlighting yesterday’s launch of Fibre to the Node technology in New South Wales as a prime example of how the “self-appointed Digital Prime Minister” is taking Australia back to “pre-war technology”.

The NBN company yesterday took a major step towards its goal of implementing the Multi-Technology Mix approach which Malcolm Turnbull has brought to the project, formally launching its Fibre to the Node product as an option to retail broadband providers some two years after the 2013 Federal Election.

However, in several statements issued over the past week, the Opposition has expressed its extreme displeasure with new Prime Minister Turnbull over the NBN project as a whole, and the launch of the FTTN portion of the network specifically.

Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare said in a statement that the FTTN portion of the network — slated to reach some 500,000 premises by mid-2016 and 3.7 million by mid-2018 — relied on “old copper lines from last century” and was running late.

“The Fibre-to-the-Node switch on is now way behind schedule and means Malcolm Turnbull will not be able to meet the promise he made in Opposition that all Australian homes would have access to the NBN by the end of 2016,” Clare said. “NBN Co’s 2016 Corporate Plan reveals that all Australian homes now won’t get the NBN until 2020.”

“Malcolm Turnbull underestimated the timeframe, cost and complexity involved in shifting from Labor’s world class fibre-to-the-premises NBN to his second rate copper NBN.”

Clare added that in Opposition, Turnbull had also promised that the full scale rollout of the Coalition’s version of the NBN would be underway by mid-2015.

“It is now September 2015 and this still has not happened,” said Clare. “According to NBN Co’s Corporate Plan 2016, the large scale rollout won’t happen until the 2017 financial year.”

And Clare also took aim at the idea floated by NBN company chief executive Bill Morrow last week that the NBN company could replace degraded copper with new copper in some cases. The NBN company had previously said it was not able to get full access to details of the state of Telstra’s copper network before signing a contract to buy it.

“That’s right, Malcolm Turnbull’s NBN Co will replace 1940’s technology with a shinier version of 1940’s technology,” said Clare. “The self-appointed Digital Prime Minister is taking us back to pre-war technology. Malcolm Turnbull has moved on to bigger things but it is becoming increasingly clear that the NBN he has left behind is an absolute mess.”

In a separate statement, Clare accused Turnbull of being a “failure” as a Communications Minister.

“The NBN is rolling out slower than Malcolm Turnbull promised, and it is more expensive than he promised,” the Shadow Minister said. “The NBN has become the collateral damage of two years where Malcolm Turnbull was more focused on getting the Prime Minister’s job than doing his day job.”

“The Australian people have every right to feel they have been duped, ripped off and lied to by Malcolm Turnbull – because they have. Whomever Malcolm Turnbull appoints as his Communications Minster has a big job ahead of them to fix the mess the now Prime Minister has left behind.”

Clare invited the new Communications Minister Mitch Fifield to immediately take a number of steps to fix the situation, ranging from releasing the financial model that underpins the NBN Corporate Plan, to abandoning the Multi-Technology Model, to releasing detailed rollout information and ensuring that key NBN company executive and board appointments are made on merit. Clare also wants the Government to engage with the Opposition and industry on a bipartisan future vision for the NBN.

“The next Communications Minister needs to work in a bi-partisan way to build Australia’s digital future in a way that Malcolm Turnbull never could,” Clare said.

To be honest, it’s quite hard to disagree with Clare’s comments here.

The NBN is indeed being deployed slower than Turnbull promised, in a radically different form than he promised, and it’s going to be a heck of a lot more expensive than the Member for Wentworth ever envisioned.

And, of course, I am personally on the record already with my opinion that Turnbull was the worst Communications Minister Australia has ever seen, and not just because of the NBN.

I, too, would like to see a great deal more transparency with respect to the project, as Clare has called for, and I would also like to see NBN appointments made purely on merit and not — as it has appeared in the past — because of their connections to Turnbull or the Liberal Party. I would also like to see the Government prepared to work with the Opposition on a bipartisan view for the NBN.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to see Minister Fifield change much of this under Prime Minister Turnbull. I think it will very much be a case of staying the (flawed) course for now. To do anything else would be for Turnbull to admit he has got some things wrong with the NBN — and this is something which he will not do.

Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting


  1. Yes a complete Fail. Would love to see the figures on how they came up with $29B to be complete be 2016 because if it was a brain fart of a plan, Conroy “back of the napkin looks so much better”

  2. You just have to read the announcements of the FTTN user with 100mbps speeds, the NBN team visited inside of his home 4x times to get the speeds at 100mbps.
    Obviously a publicity stunt to show off these speeds, reality this wouldn’t be happening to every user.
    God I hope not otherwise it will be one expensive lemon.

    • This is a lemon. Who the hell signs a contract and pays billions of dollars for something without knowing what condition it is in? Only our dimwitted politicians would. As for the user that got 100mbps download, that was only one user. How many more people will get speeds like that and how many more will receive multiple visits by technicians to ensure the customer can actually get they speed they pay for? I doubt very many. Everything looks good during a trial but just wait until more FTTN services come online and we will see this for what it really is.

      • Reports from other trial site in Belmont are getting well below the speed from this site.

      • Looking forward to seeing actual speeds from users in Belmont to see if this is actually true. If there are any people from Belmont reading this article, please post the speeds you are getting.

    • @Soth and it you examine his real speeds he’s actually only on 12mbps (5GB doesnt take and hour to DL @ 96Mbpbs).

      • Yeah I’m hearing that from the forums.
        Seems a bit fishy. Of course it’s fishy, we’re talking about NBN Co here the most transparent company in Australia (ha ha I joke)

      • I believe this is the maximum speed for the first 6 months while users on ADSL are brought over. So much for faster and sooner.

        • It’s not the max it’s the min but you just need to get that 12/1 for 1 sec in a day during the change over when the 18mths are up it moves upto 25Mbps for 1 sec in a day.

          So as long as you can get those speeds there is nothing wrong with your copper not matter how close you are.

          • No, beema is right, VDSL2 and ADSL can’t coexist in the same rack/cable trunks. VDSL2 is designed to work within the limitations of poorly shielded neighboring copper wires giving off significant crosstalk EMI. The signalling takes account of that and allows the significant improvement in frequency precisely because it takes control of signalling down every wire and optimises it. It CANNOT account for crosstalk from other systems and services, which is why you can’t have ADSL and VDSL operating St the same time – VDSL gets completely screwed up by it and packet loss is insane.

            So the max speed FTTN customers will get is 12mbps until their whole area has completed the upgrade, whereby they get to experience the full glory of 25mbps… Unless they’re within 400m of the node, which should give them 50-70mbps, and the full 100mbps should be possible somewhere between 200 and 300m.

          • @JasonK
            Thanks for that link. NBN are being disingenuous here – by not rate limiting they will claim that there are no imposed limitations, but they’re not rewriting physics – while for some customers interference may be so minimal it will have no appreciable impact, for most people they are going to have a poor quality connection with packets dropped everywhere. Fortunately TCP/IP is designed to handle poor connection quality which will result in slow page loading. But I’d be checking my MD5 hashes for file downloads if I was on such a connection, and time sensitive activities like online gaming, Skype and media streaming will be pretty nasty.

            By only guaranteeing 12/1 to RSPs they are effectively capping retail availability anyway, unless RSPs are going to rate test every connection prior to offering higher speed plans to customers. Such plans will again be deceptive, though, as connection quality can’t be guaranteed when it will vary tremendously based on usage by neighbours (a bit like contention, but harder to manage or fix).

        • All they can promise is that a certain speed is reached for 1 second in a day? What kind of promise is this? Quite a pathetic service in this day and age if you ask me.

      • yeah his modem sync speed is what is probably 100Mbps.

        I guess given how configurable copper can be (ie unreliable) 4 visits to try and discover what is a good set up probably not untoward. Its a bit amusing that the DL speeds that get quoted actually mean it took longer than if it was on his original ADSL connection!

        Also do they not have to limit connections anyway during the initial stages until ADSL is completely turned off to prevent cross talk ruining both services?

    • Soth writes:
      You just have to read the announcements of the FTTN user with 100mbps speeds, the NBN team visited inside of his home 4x times to get the speeds at 100mbps.

      Even if it is 100mbps, if you actually want to connect to somewhere OS it will make bugger all difference as the pipes to OS are crap.

      I have FTTP and while the speed is OK within Au (95/38), try to get any decent speed to OS and you are pushing poo up hill…

      • Yes. Which is why we need new undersea cable operators. Pipe came in with bluster, we’re bought by TPG, and realised that instead of competing properly with Telstra they could charge a small discount below them and grow fat off the tremendous profits. Unfortunately the barriers to entry are high, and a real competitive fight would see Telstra discounting to below positive ROI pricing for the new player, crushing them like Qantas and Australian Airlines did to Compass (with the help of the federal government). It is only through greater undersea cable competition that we will see the back of metering in this country.

  3. Renai, I think you are underestimating yourself here, its not that you should be agreeing with Mr Clare but that its Mr Clare who IS agreeing with you albeit on his own platform.
    I suspect that he has read your articles on the matter.

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