Andrew Bolt slams Turnbull for ‘fumbling’ NBN fix


news Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt has opened fire on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over his handling of the National Broadband Network, stating Turnbull has “fumbled” the catch on the NBN and let the project blow out to twice the cost and four years behind the delivery that Turnbull promised.

In a column published on the website of the Herald Sun newspaper on Wednesday, Bolt wrote that most of the blame for the NBN must land on the head of former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who the commentator said had worked out the NBN plan on “the back of a beer coaster” on the Prime Ministerial jet.

However, Bolt also opened up on Turnbull for his tenure leading the project.

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has fumbled the rescue, delivering less than he promised for twice the price,” wrote Bolt. “Bottom line, Turnbull is still giving us an NBN that costs double what he himself promised and is running four years behind.”

The news represents one of the first times that Bolt has turned on Turnbull regarding his handling of the NBN project. In the past, the conservative commentator has been a long-time critic of Labor’s stewardship of the NBN.

In August 2012, for example, Bolt published a series of strongly worded blog posts arguing that the “gold-plated” National Broadband Network project was turning into the Federal Government’s “biggest financial disaster by far”.

Just two months later, Bolt published a blog post arguing that a new development in wireless technology revealed at the time could leave the Federal Government’s flagship National Broadband Network project looking like “the biggest white elephant in our history”.

And in February 2013 Bolt continued his ongoing series of attacks on the project, claiming that the project was behind target and describing the way it accounts for having finished network construction in a given area as being “rubbery”.

Australia’s conservative press — particularly News Corporation, which publishes the Herald Sun newspaper which hosts Bolt’s blog and his columns — has been strongly critical of Labor’s stewardship of the NBN project as a whole, on an ongoing basis. Throughout the Rudd and Gillard Governments, The Australian newspaper in particular strongly attacked the project on a daily basis.

It led Communications Minister Stephen Conroy in 2010 to state that The Australian’s coverage of the NBN didn’t have any “journalistic balance” or “journalistic accountability”. “… they have been maintaining this campaign to try and create uncertainty, to create falsehoods about the NBN and they are knowingly doing it,” he said.

Similarly, Fairfax newspaper The Financial Review continues to be similarly critical of Labor’s version of the NBN.

Last week the newspaper launched an extraordinary attack on Labor’s Fibre to the Premises-based National Broadband Network policy, describing it as an “expensive joke” and a “Kevin Rudd vanity project” and claiming that Labor has “no credibility” when it came to broadband.

Bolt’s comments represent one of the first occasions when Australia’s conservative media has directly attacked Turnbull’s stewardship of the project.

Is Australia’s conservative media about to start tackling Turnbull when it comes to the NBN? I hardly think so … the big end of town certainly does not want to use the issue as a stick to beat Turnbull with as it did Rudd, Gillard and Conroy.

Turnbull represents the mainstream center of Australian politics, and I suspect our major media outlets will be content to let him sit in the role for some time, certainly as a preference to returning to a Labor Government. Andrew Bolt is, in the current political environment, largely viewed as something of an extremist — and certainly much further out on the boundaries of the Liberal camp than he was during Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministership.

And yet it must also be said that where Bolt goes, others will follow. I would not be surprised to see other conservative figures start to attack Turnbull on the NBN issue — an area, after all, where he is vulnerable due to the ongoing problems with the project. We’ve seen conservative Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi dancing around this area recently as well.

It will be interesting to see if Bolt chooses to up the ante on this issue with Turnbull over the next few months. If that happened, Turnbull would be being attacked from both the political Left and the Right on the topic of the NBN. Not precisely a situation in which any sitting PM would wish to find themselves in.

Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting


  1. Even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day. I see this as more of an accident. If it was Abbott in Turnbull’s position Bolt’s heavily tinted glasses would be viewing the MTM as all rainbows and butterflies. Where is the point a far right delusional passes that puts him into the rubber room? Seeing things that aren’t there rather just interpreting everything through a warped perception?

  2. Well Bolt has never been a fan of Turnbull prob still upset that Abbott been kicked out.

  3. Bolt is a buffoon but I suppose it’s good to see a little bit of consistency. It’s not like it matters now though, the MTM is a mess.

  4. Blot tries to remain relevant, end of story.

    Mind you, MTM will evolve to an albatross. Just dont expect Blot to understand how / why.

  5. If Andrew Bolt was saying something Delimiter disagreed with he’d be saying the man talks complete nonsense. This time he’s saying something Delimiter likes so his opinion is being cited as important and worth listening to. This, unfortunately, is typical of Delimiter’s excuse for journalism.

    • @GD perhaps one of the few times Bolt has addressed a technology portfolio. Spot on about this being Rudd’s largest failures (sucked in Turnbull as well); $ anyway, number killed and houses destroyed not yet at batt levels.

      Fairfax, News, Ziff-Davis. Publicly funded ABC won’t attack, wouldn’t risk turning the spot light on their own waste, overpaid staff, inefficiencies and incompetencies.

      • Dear Richard,

        MTM isn’t Labor’s policy. I’m not sure if you have been paying attention or not.

        Turnbull isn’t the leader of the opposition. He’s not the labor leader. I think you might be confused; Bolt isn’t happy about MTM’s cost. He is specifically referring to a policy that is sponsored by, managed by, introduced by and fumbled by the current incumbent government.

        What labor did is now ancient history. The current government has made a choice. It is a poor one and they (and now we) will have to live with it. Flogging the horse, e’ry day because somehow it hasn’t had enough yet doesn’t change the fact that the policy is now entirely driven by the Coalition.

        Your steadfast determination to pretend MTM is fine and okay when even the likes of Bolt states the bleed’n obvious, is laughable. No, really. It is.

    • The article doesn’t at all endorse his views,it identifies him as the first prominent right wing critic of Turnbulls tenure overseeing the NBN rollout.

    • No Gordon, as usual you miss the point,

      Bolt is staying true to form, supporting extremist right wing views and as such most here not only disagree, but laugh at such warped, fucking idiot separatist and antiquated views.

      But Bolt has already written a love song for Abbott (and been laughed at deservedly). So all Bolt is doing now is attacking a right central to centre (i.e. Bolts enemy- as anything left of far right is too left) leader even though he is leading the only party Bolt has and will ever support..

      Because strangely after having the most right wing leader ever (who Bolt thought was god…LOL) , we now have the most left (Lib) leader ever….and they are from the same party?

      Of course for Bolt, the further right the better, so…

    • Did you *read* the articles at all?

      Or just grab the headline like the majority and come to some conclusion to suit your own urge to rant against something you disagree with.

      I don’t find anything in here about Renai “agreeing” w/ Bolt in as so much as just saying “Bolt doesn’t like NBN, Bolt doesn’t like Labor, Bolt doesn’t like Turnbull” just in a more verbose format

  6. Is Bolt (and by proxy, Murdoch) still sooking about Abbott being booted? Get over it already.

  7. This is really about Blot’s sookiness over Turnbull booting Abbott. There was no criticism before the coup.

  8. Deadbolt is piss-off with Two Tongue Turnbull for pulling the rug from under Captain Budgie Smuggler.

  9. Rudd and Conroy initially planned VDSL via FTTN – they rejected this “beer coaster” policy after further investigation into its merits VS replacing copper infrastructure. Any Liberal party loyalist commentators like Bolt would do well to remember who actually began the actualisation of the beer coaster idea – that was PM Tony Abbott and Comms minister Turnbull with the support of their own party and the National party, they have just now, approximately 5-6 years post beer coaster actualised the thought bubble they derided and which Labor ultimately dumped and rightly pan.
    The libs are cheating, stealing ideas from other peoples beer coasters should be against the rules of engagement !

  10. I do love how the right wing nut jobs keep rewriting history, and rewriting history, and rewriting history. What’s even more astounding is the more moderate “sensible” of the right just sagely nod their heads and repeat “All Labor’s fault” as if that’s actually the whole truth. Shall we revisit the NBN history? Telstra, under the 3 amigos, saw an ideal way to lock up their marketshare, FTTN to the masses (at the cost of locking out ALL competition). Even the Libs baulked at this one, but still passed it through to the ACCC to block this. Labor saw a good policy opportunity and proposed a FTTN NBN network (the “back of the napkin”, that keeps getting trotted out). Labor asked for expressions of interest, which Telstra belatedly replied with “na na na na, we own the network, stuff you”. The Libs shouted FTTN “Fraudband”, the Nats said “Fibre to all”, and Labor actually did the right thing and asked a panel of INDEPENDENT experts which way to go forward. They recommended FTTP, and not on the back of an envelope/coaster/napkin. It was then referred to Deloitte (iirc) to come up with some numbers. They recommended 93%. At this point the LNP thought “Shit, they are on a winner here, what can we do to whiteant and nullify it before the next election”. So the FUD and lies began, mostly from the mouths of paid Liberal party shills. Shock horror, the next election, minority Labor government formed due 100% to FTTP NBN. The knives and the lies really started flowing then. “Demolish the NBN” reportedly came from the opposition leader’s mouth. And what was a fantastic way for infrastructure in Australia to forge ahead became a political football instead of an infrastructure project. The Libs won the next election, due to a very lacklustre Labor rather than a positive shining opposition. NBNCo quickly replaced by NBN(tm) with it’s management and board replaced with “Like minded” Liberal and Telstra staff (I can’t wait for Simon to expose what he’s really done “to fight the good fight from within”, I suspect sweetFA). A review organised under the auspices of the same paid Liberal shills that fed the FUD previously, and you think somehow we are on the “right course”? The technology and correct course was lost 5 minutes after the original expert panel made their recommendations, since then it’s been all about political expediency, not about what is in the best interest of ALL Australians.

    • Seano +10000000000000

      Rob Oakshott talks about the Murdoch press’s attack on the NBN in his book “The Indt member for Lyne”.

    • Agreed, a brilliant summary. So sick if having to explain this again and again – I might just refer back to this post a few times a day ;-)

    • Missed is performance. Formed in April 2009 the election that brought Abbott to power the NBNCo had connected 260k (yes ‘000) premises. They had spent almost $10b in equity. If remotely competent the policy would have remained. Neither the policy or its commercial manifestation were, hence the continuing disaster.

      So called experts were wrong!

      • Yes let’s ignore all the backhaul / transit links NBN Co needed to roll out around the country to support the poi’s, satellite links plus order infrastructure to go into the poi’s etc etc.

        Compare it to building a bridge, you prolly spend a 1/3 rd of your budget before you start building the roadway as the costs of the support pylons etc etc are a substantial slice the total project cost!

      • So the beam counter who talks down to us all, because we have err, real careers.. can’t comprehend that start up’s take some time to get rolling and become profitable?

        While accepting every hold up and cost blow out from the ones who now ride upon the start up’s back.

        Wow, just wow…

        • Of course what you and others ALWAYS let go through to the keeper is the prime mover of the Labor FTTP plan and the Minister who backed it with so much spin the electorate was getting dizzy the infamous Senator Conroy said AFTER Labor lost the election in 2013 that the project was too ambitious.

          He comprehended what the problem was, the 2013 election voting public comprehended what the problem was so the lack of comprehension is totally with the FTTP supporters who actually think the Labor rollout is just in a temporary three year hold pattern and it will be ‘go go go’ with a back to 93% coverage FTTP rollout and a 2021 completion date any day now.

          So when Labor win the next election (a given apparently) we pretend the intervening three years of Coalition Government never happened and it’s full steam ahead with FTTP replacing FTTN on the back of trite slogans like “Labor is the party of fibre and the Liberals are the party of copper.”

          Yeah no worries that should do it, Labor should romp it in.

          • And yet just about every “home connected” Libs love to boast about have all been contracts and plans done pre election… just Libs being forced to “honor” to have the contracts finished…

            Roll outs that all got paused and held back for a year and a half at least while the stop build order was on… and yet we managed to connect so many houses w/in the year the Stop Work finished…. But yes that was all the “golden touch” of the Coalition taking over correct?

          • Personally I am of the opinion that the Australian public will be cleaning up the MTM mess for a very long long time. Even should Labor decide to try and bring it back to a full FTTP, (Which honestly is not going to happen) the absolute BEST we can hope for is an acceleration of a “2nd” rollout. Reducing the FTTN footprint as much as possible, pushing to upgrade the HFC and FTTN areas sooner.

            FTTP was the better solution Technologically, always was.
            FTTP was a process that was in place, was improving, and was on track to make its timetable for the majority of the population.
            FTTP was a cost effective solution across the lifetime of the network.

            MTM, a mix of technologies, 2 of which based on old, and very old infrastructure that still needs to be upgraded before fully supporting the MTM, and will need to be replaced in the future.
            MTM stopped using the process that was improving, now have to start again with new processes (yes processes, FTTP, FTTN, HFC Optus, HFC Telstra etc) which has held up the rollout altogether.
            MTM is costing close to the same amount now, and will cost more in the future to bring everyone to the same level. A very poor investment.

          • Nailed it Woolfe.

            I think whatever Labor end up doing it’ll be more of a “repair as much damage as possible policy” rather than any thing else. Whatever ends up happening it’ll take more time and cost more thanks to the coalition clowns making a colossal mess of it.

          • @Rock_M Of course there were FTTP build contracts honoured by the Coalition post election win 2013, including a big one frantically signed at the last minute by Labor before the election.

            There is one thing incumbent Governments love to do especially when staring at a big election loss is try and ‘stuff it up’ for the incoming Government, unfortunately it backfired somewhat as it only made the Coalition look good rightly or wrongly as the ‘ Labor NBN mess cleaner’.

            I assume the exact same thing will happen next election, Labor will have to honour all FTTN build contracts which should be well entrenched by this time next year.

            So we all will be following with great interest in the coming months any detail from the Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare on the honoring of FTTN contracts, what is going to happen to the Coalition FTTB platform and what is going to happen to existing and future HFC rollout areas and their upgrade to DOCSIS 3.1.

          • @Woolfe

            ” Even should Labor decide to try and bring it back to a full FTTP, (Which honestly is not going to happen) the absolute BEST we can hope for is an acceleration of a “2nd” rollout. Reducing the FTTN footprint as much as possible, pushing to upgrade the HFC and FTTN areas sooner. ”

            Well at least you have assessed it correctly, the full 93% FTTP is not going to happen.

            Two other points I will have to disagree with you, I think a Labor NBN Co won’t upgrade active FTTN areas with FTTP and they won’t touch the Coalition targeted and already active NBN HFC areas and the planned upgrade to DOCSIS 3.1 by writing off the Telstra and Optus HFC purchase and replacing it with FTTP.
            I also suspect they won’t change the existing technical platform and target areas of the FTTB rollout, FTTB and the speed of the rollout it allows into multi unit buildings will be to well entrenched.

            Under those circumstances and the honouring of FTTN build contracts flowing into 2017 and beyond it will be extremely interesting to see what the old 93% FTTP target is downgraded to for a 2017-2018 restart.

          • @Reality: I am thoroughly amused at your straw clutching there

            So NBN’s attempts to “get more contracts” was a “sabotage attempt” to “get back at the Coalition which backfired” I am somewhat struggling here to try and write a response at the absurdity of that response..

            So I will respectfully say thank you very much for showing me a rather “interesting” perspective on this. And I don’t think there is really any point to any civilised debate after seeing a “response” like that

          • @reality you might be right about govenrments signing up stupid contracts

            The MTM coalition are signing 6+ year contracts and have signed up NBN to maintain HFC forever (whether NBN uses it or not). Its a pity they didn’t operate more like NBNCo and only sign up for 2-3 years (a far more normal length).

          • @RocK_M

            “So NBN’s attempts to “get more contracts” was a “sabotage attempt” to “get back at the Coalition which backfired””

            You added words to try and add impact they are not mine, I never said the words ‘”sabotage attempt” nor “get more contracts” , I was only referring to ONE contract signed in the dying days of the Labor government.

            The fact that Turnbull said they would honour all FTTP build contracts took a lot of heat out of criticism of the Coalition NBN Plan and their intentions.

            “And I don’t think there is really any point to any civilised debate after seeing a “response” like that”

            Fine go ahead but if you are going to quote me actually quote what I said, copy & paste without added amendments to how you want it to read.

          • @Simon M

            “Its a pity they didn’t operate more like NBNCo and only sign up for 2-3 years (a far more normal length).”

            Depends on your point of view, there is the opinion that the previous Labor NBN Co should have been more like the current Coalition NBN Co when it comes to long term contract lengths.

            “Not only should NBN Co ignore Malcolm Turnbull’s spurious claim that it’s in some form of ‘virtual caretaker mode’ ahead of the upcoming Federal Election, it should intentionally sign as many long-term construction and equipment contracts as possible before September, in case the Coalition wins government and tries to shut it down.”



          • @ Reality…

            Still no comment about that one Nat Senator…?

            But in the meantime you are certainly keeping those here who actually live in ‘reality’ amused with your submissive retrograde, yes man comments.

            Thank you ;)

          • @reality your next moniker should real be @Spin sigh.

            The reasoning behind that article was to hope that rather than do the right thing business wise NBN Co might lock in the next 3-6 years worth of fibre deployment which would mean the ludicrous MTM wouldn’t have gotten to the horrible point it is now.

            People were clamouring for the lock in as we all saw and knew how bad it would be otherwise. NBN Co unlike the incumbent board and the LNP had the integrity to say no its business as usual (hence those contracts which had only 2 years left to run). That the LNP and MTM weren’t able to let the contractors complete the 2 year contracts in 2 years is another matter.

          • Simon M

            So it’s ok for longer term contracts to be signed as long as it is for a Labor like FTTP rollout, longer term contracts for the Coalition NBN mix are apparently really bad.

            Seeing it is a mix I assume the FTTP, FTTB, Satellite and wireless long term contracts are ok , the bad bits are FTTN and HFC. (because Labor weren’t doing them)

            Remember there are two parties to these contracts, it may not be just about how the Coalition NBN Co wants it done, the suppliers, maintenance and infrastructure contractors may have insisted on the contract length terms.

            BTW I wouldn’t hold up the Labor NBN Co as a shining example of how contracts and NBN construction should be done.

            “NBN construction model failed, says Conroy”


          • @InverseReality

            “NBN construction model failed, says Conroy”

            If you had any worthwhile understanding of the topic then you’d know that Conroy was talking about the Prime Contractor model employed by NBN Co – Not the NBN policy itself!


          • Yes I am fully aware of that, that particular thread is about construction contracts, your point is what?

          • @InverseReality My point is you are a Troll with no clue conflating things that shouldn’t be conflated …. Next!

    • Fantastic post Seano, you’ve nailed it completely!

      I’m so sick of the right wing FUD machine whiteanting everything of benefit to this country that didn’t originate from their mates or doesn’t directly benefit their mates.

      It’s a bloody disgrace!

  11. Andrew Bolt (and a few others like him in the media) were not happy to see Turnbull do what he did to their man Abbott, so it is not surprising that they would pick at his leadership, especially while he is so comfortably ahead.

    Nothing Andrew Bolt says about the NBN makes much sense otherwise. I really don’t think that he understands it, or any of the issues related to it, and like Abbott, it probably frightens him a little.

  12. Translation: Yoo hoo, I’m still here and my cheque is late. Can you please have the accounts dept take care of it, thanks.

  13. I suppose its worth remembering just under half the party didn’t vote for Turnbull so there’s bound to be the odd wayward comment here and there much like Hockey’s speech thanking Labour. It will be subtle and probably not widespread but that’s politics!

  14. The thing is that while FTTP would of been great, Labour and Conroy, who have next to no commercial business experience …. were totally out negotiated by the Telcos (run by people with commercial business experience) who wanted a large enough number of Points on Inter Connect to make sure that only the largest players would be able to run services over the NBN. The original plan was for 7 points of Interconnect that would level the paying field and allow even small providers access to the NBN at the Wholesale level. Now, instead of Telstra AAPT and Optus … there are still only 7 main wholesale buyers of NBN services because its too much in set up and monthly charges for the smaller players to invest in. Not only has 121 POIS made the NBN more complex and expensive to build…its made the cost of services to the users more expensive …Level playing field …Pfffft.

    Every engineering project proposed in Australia costs typically 2-3 times (see Collins submarines, Vic Desal Plant, AWD project) what is originally forecast. Deloittes who did the costing for Labour have just proven them self as incompetent …again. If the FTTN version is running over budget now …can you image what the FTTP would be running at? The FTTP in its very nature is more complex. Yes everyone flaps on about fraud band. If you hear anyone compare us with japan and Sth Korea look them in the eyes and understand you are looking at a dead set ignorant fool with no understand of network construction costs over vast distances or the basic scale when supplying services to multi tenanted buildings. In reality, when it comes to FTTP, the words no one likes to hear at home, or from the government…we can’t afford it.

    • You might work for a Telco but you have your facts completely wrong!

      The POI decision was entirely the ACCC’s screw up after being talked into the 121 POI model by the backhaul owners who claimed the ACCC should protect their investments in Fibre backhaul simply because they “had a competitive market already”.

      It had nothing to do with Conroy …. that said as minister he should have had legislation drafted to block the ACCC decision!

    • Awesome. Another one of these “I work in telco” guys. Always good for a laugh, a careful mix of faux-logic and political but ultimately unconvincing.

      There’s only one solution… more popcorn!

      • Works in telco – lifelong Coalition voter/member… ;)

        As usual… there’s really no other reason for anyone to oppose FttP, IMO.

        Let’s not forget, these same people who now deride FttP would have been calling FttN “fraudband” back in 2007.


        • I don’t why you keep rabbitting on about fraudband as if it has some real purpose in the NBN debate.

          In the history of BB in Australia all of these were labeled ‘fraudband’ , dial-up, 256/512/1500 ADSL1, ADSL2, early and current wireless data methodology.

          Fraudband can be defined as anything you want it to be to push a agenda at any point in time, ADSL1 was called fraudband because Telstra were tardy in upgrading their exchange DSLAM’s to ADSL2, 1500/256 was called fraudband because Telstra at one point limited that as the speed ceiling for ADSL1.

          Will the fraudband labeling by those with a back to FTTP agenda change the Coalition NBN mix in any way? nope, a pointless going nowhere fast topic of discussion.

          Oh I nearly forgot.


          • Oh please, if you really can’t see the irony (I won’t say stupidity, dishonesty or hypocrisy) of the very same political coalition who now swears FttN is the only way to go and are rolling it out, having previously opposed it and even referred to it as fraudband, well I’m afraid you need to open your “eye”!

            But thanks for again reaffirming the sole reason I believe people oppose FttP, as I mentioned above and wham, right on cue.

          • Fraudband can be defined as anything you want it to be to push a agenda at any point in time, ADSL1 was called fraudband

            You know what’s really funny, seriously this is something you probably cant comprehend but I’m going to let you in on this little secret anyway:

            ADSL was once considered super fast.

            In the days of dial-up people would speak of T1 lines and some would say nobody would need such speeds.

            So here we are in 2015.

            So what does that tell you about today and tomorrow?

            Logic, try it, just let it sink in slowly while the cogs turn and it wont hurt so much.

            Got it yet?

            I’ll ask again in 2016.

          • “In the history of BB in Australia all of these were labeled ‘fraudband’ , dial-up, 256/512/1500 ADSL1, ADSL2, early and current wireless data methodology.”

            Please link to where any other alternative to FttN has “actually been referred to as fraudband”. Even “one Nat Senator” will do…

            Funny this backward world of the backward copper cheerleaders.

            When the very people who now roll out, err fraudband, said fraudband about FttN (and everyone knows it) these copper cheerleaders, in the face of facts, deny they said it (well deny that more than one said it). But when fraudband wasn’t ever said about something else, they claim it was commonplace…

            Oh the pile of BS just gets deeper and deeper.

    • @Unlike you I work in Telco … ROFL

      FYI original plan was for 16 POI (Its called redundancy … who the heck works in a Telco and only has 1 of anything when its a critical connection)!

      Also we have 8 States and Territories in this fine country which one did you plan on missing out on a POI!

    • There is something to be said for Long distances making much more sense with Fibre once the fibre is actually in place. There are nations with comparable population densities and average distances from population hubs that are similar to Australia and they happen to be going the Fibre route,sometimes replacing FTTN as we speak. The ongoing debate and reason for existence of the NBN (besides the sale of Telstra!) is the limitation of copper for transmission over long distance and yet, it spans Australia. the fact that Australia (rural areas too! Gasp!) is serviced by copper, even under peoples driveways (I kid you not!) should put into perspective any short term hiccups associated with getting fibre all the way up to existing buildings.

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