Labor targets Turnbull’s NBN record with election mailout


news The Opposition has directly targeted the record of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the National Broadband Network project, in what appears to be the first of a new wave of mailouts to voters designed to influence its electoral results, mimicking its approach during the last Federal Election in mid-2013.

Federal Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan — the Member for Perth in Western Australia — has issued a pamphlet to voters in her region stating: “Perth’s suburbs are rated as some of the lowest on the government’s broadband quality assessment … but still won’t get the NBN until at least 2020.”

The full pamphlet can be downlaoded here in PDF format.

The pamphlet lists Perth suburbs such as Embleton, Noranda, Maylands, Bedford, Bayswater and Dianella, alleging that they are, on average, currently receiving broadband speeds of less than 10Mbps, compared with suburbs such as Swanbourne, Sorrento, Alfred Cove and Watermans Bay, which, the pamphlet alleges, have much higher average broadband speeds closer to 20Mbps.

In the pamphlet, MacTiernan states that when holding the Communications portfolio for the Coalition, Turnbull promised that all homes and businesses would have NBN access by 2016, that those with the worst levels of broadband would get the NBN first, and that the “second-rate NBN”, using “old copper wire”, would be cheaper at $29.5 billion.

In reality, the pamphlet claims, many homes in the suburbs listed above wouldn’t receive the NBN before 2019 at the earliest. It adds that some of the suburbs listed have some of Australia’s worst broadband speeds, but still weren’t on the NBN’s planned rollout, and that the “second-rate NBN” has doubled in cost to $56 billion.

MacTiernan has invited her constituents to sign an online petition on her website calling for “a real NBN rollout across Western Australia”, as well as emailing her their “broadband horror stories”.

On the petition page, MacTiernan writes:

“The 18th century had the steam engine and the 20th century electricity at the core of economic growth. The 21st century economy will be increasingly based on the internet. Some predict that there could be as many as 26 billion devices connected by the internet by 2020. These devices could range from heart monitoring implants to industrial-scale manufacturing equipment.”

“Malcolm Turnbull’s vision of how people outside the CBD of capital cities use the internet seems to be confined to consumers downloading movies. He claims in ten years we’ll only want 15 megabytes per second, when the majority of new customers signing up for the NBN are already asking for 25mbps.”

“Under Labor, all homes and businesses would have received fibre to their premises. So instead of linking 93% of Australian homes and businesses directly with fibre, it looks like 50% of Australians could be given a third rate system that relies on the degraded copper network under his fibre to the node idea.”

“We know from our experience in Perth that Telstra has not maintained these lines well, and in many areas the copper is not capable of reliably transmitting voice calls let alone high speed data.”

MacTiernan’s mailout mimics a number of similar mailouts which Labor issued during the September 2013 Federal Election campaign.

Looks like Labor is definitely going to campaign in the next Federal Election on Turnbull’s record on the NBN, and that the NBN is going to be a hot election issue. I can’t say I’m surprised. Game on: Labor appears to have fired the starter’s pistol.

As with Labor’s previous NBN election materials, MacTiernan’s pamphlet contains a mix of truths and half-truths.

It is true that many of the suburbs listed by MacTiernan currently have poor broadband access, and that the NBN is not scheduled to land there anytime soon. However, that’s not to say that the NBN isn’t coming to Perth in general. It is … there are plenty of suburbs within Perth which are definitely slated to receive the NBN within the next few years — or, indeed, which already have it.

Secondly, Turnbull didn’t technically promise to deliver the NBN to all homes and businesses by 2016. In April 2013, the Coalition announced its NBN policy. Delimiter wrote at the time:

“According to the pair’s media release, the Coalition’s policy is based on the core pledge that the group will deliver download speeds of between 25Mbps and 100Mbps by the end of 2016 — effectively the end of its first term in power — and 50Mbps to 100Mbps by the end of 2019, effectively the end of its second term. According to the Coalition’s statement this morning, the 25Mbps to 100Mbps pledge applies to “all premises”, while the higher pledge by 2019 applies to “90 percent of fixed line users”.”

It was always clearly Turnbull’s intention to meet this aim by counting premises connected to existing high-speed networks such as the HFC cable networks operated by Telstra and Optus, as well as TransACT’s FTTN network in the ACT, for example. Turnbull did not have to deploy the NBN to all Australian premises to meet the aim.

MacTiernan has also taken the worst case in terms of the cost of the Coalition’s version of the NBN — listing it as costing $56 billion, when the real cost may be significantly less. The latest cost blowout in the NBN — detailed in August – ranges from between $5 billion and $15 billion.

Image credit: Labor


      • But then we did have Turnbull claiming Labor was going to be $90b at least labor are using Turnbull own figures.

      • Renai, you know facts have absolutely no place in their rants… ; )

        ps. Welcome back.

        • Org’asmo
          What facts did Turnbull have when claiming $90B for labor FTTP $29B and 25Mbps to all by 2016?

        • Fancy that, org’amo… Renai suggesting broadband actually “is going to be a hot election issue”…

          So also following the information I kindly supplied you from Peter Reith, following the 2010 election, where broadband cost the Coalition votes (in a hung parliament where a small number of votes made a difference) so… would you like to again copy/paste your comments from last week about broadband being meaningless in relation to elections (speaking of rants and baseless rants at that) or are you now finally coming to terms with being completely wrong?

          • Rizz,

            You left out some key points in your biased round out the facts assessment.

            Reith said negating the NBN MIGHT have had a effect in the BASS seat in the 2010 election, yes that’s ONE regional seat in Tasmania with a population of about 99,000, where the NBN MIGHT have had an effect.

            The other key point you left out was that BASS was won with a healthy swing of 10.8% from Labor by the Liberals in the 2013 election.

            shh, don’t mention the 2013 election in Bass, that had nothing to do with the NBN because it was a Coalition MTM model, apparently only the 2010 election did because it was Labor FTTP model.

          • Reality
            Yet that same coalition policy was just FTTN or are you still going by the fact they where using 0% HFC in that same docu you reference. Or that same policy that was costed at just $29.5B with a cap of $20B ref in that same docu or that same policy to deliver 25Mbps to by 2016.

            But we know how well the winning policy is tracking ATM.

          • Jason K,

            What has any of that got to do with Bass election results 2010 and 2013, other than a panicked attempt at a diversion?

          • Reality
            You where talking about the failed mark 1 coalition policy. I though I would help as it seams it’s ok for labor to say anything before the election about the NBN becuase according I need to move on becuase it’s already failed twice and now on its third go.

          • Oh FFS grow up… Firstly no they didn’t actually say MIGHT have had an affect in the BASS seat…the said the NBN WAS a major reinforcement…

            Got it now?

            Here’s what they actually said copy/pasted…

            “The post election polling confirmed that the NBN was a major reinforcement for people to vote Labor in Bass.”

            They then went on to say – “Bass MIGHT have been a win instead of a loss.”

            So before you carry on again… what they said for those who can understand English and have two eyes is… The NBN won votes for Labor. Had this not been the case, the Coalition MIGHT have won Bass and ergo MIGHT have won the election.

            Of course they can’t say would have, because it didn’t occur (as you love to argue in relation to our FttP being delivered by now – but as usual also love to completely contradict yourself to suit the narrative) *slowclap*.

            But what they can do (as we did with the delivery of FttP estimations) is look at all of the information at hand and come to a rationally weighted conclusion that they the Coalition themselves and apparently everyone else (but you and org’asmo) – can see and accept. That the NBN was a determining factor…

            Wow even the Coalition can accept this but you two can’t… *sigh*

            Here’s some more of what they “actually” said in detail… feel free to ignore though and childishly argue over the word might again … I’d expect nothing less.

            “Policy on the National Broadband Network had a particular effect in Tasmania for a range of reasons. In several towns Tasmanians could see the NBN being rolled out. Tasmania is often behind the mainland in receiving new technology so being at the forefront of the NBN was seen as a boost to Tasmania. The NBN provided jobs for Tasmanian contractors and it brought people to Tasmania from the mainland having flow on effects for Tasmania’s tourism, hospitality and service industries.”

            “The Broadband policy (Coalition’s) was written at the last minute without a set of Tasmanian eyes cast over it. The Party needs to make a clear and unambiguous statement about its intentions on
            Broadband infrastructure in Tasmania in the future.”

            “As an aside, a number of commentators and others have said we might have won the election if we had won Lindsay in New South Wales (NSW). Maybe. But it could also be said about Bass. The Tasmanian State Director told me that, based on Liberal polling, we were 50/50 in Bass on a 2PP basis, 10 days out from the election. Then the NBN issue really got going. The post election polling confirmed that the NBN was a major reinforcement for people to vote Labor in Bass. If we had negated NBN and offered, in a timely way, a decent Tasmanian package, Bass might have been a win instead of a loss.

            I await yet another most adult comment relating to MIGHT… Ooh BTW you never mentioned Renai’s comment.


      • @Renai did the evidence available in 2013 support the notion that the rollout cost could skyrocket from $29b to a possible $56b in the next 2 years?

        • Yes, at that great time there was a substantial amount of evidence showing that the Coalition had underestimated the cost of building its version of the NBN — and overestimated the cost of Labor’s.

      • Yeah well the evidence is conveniently being hidden from public scrutiny or even independent oversight. Commercial in confidence and all that. The facts simply have not supported any of the Coalition’s figures regarding the cost of fibre, either – for that matter, the facts have never stacked up for their MTM cost claims.

        What we know is:

        A) the original figures from NBN Co Mk I were independently audited and relatively transparent (once Conroy got out of the way and realised transparency worked in his favour). We can have reasonable confidence in their accuracy because even the best attempts by the Coalition to find fault with NBN Co’s accounting practices and management found absolutely nothing untoward. The LNP can sling mud as much as they want, but they legally have no leg to stand on regarding NBN Co’s original board, management, planning and reporting. While project time frames certainly slipped, we know what caused that – LNP delaying legislation, Telstra delaying negotiations, Telstra remediation of pits and ducts and deployment contractors failing to meet contractual obligations.
        B) NBN Co Mk II started life with a politically motivated audit stacked with people known to be either friends or colleagues of Malcolm’s, the LNP, or publicly hostile towards the original NBN. There was nothing ‘independent’ about the review, and indeed numerous assumptions were demonstrated to be significantly flawed. The figures published by the SR are useful as a metric to measure the new NBN’s performance against, but as a document of evidence it is laughable.
        C) NBN Mk II has been anything but transparent, with just one publication attempting even a semblance of reporting current progress and projections, and even that heavily redacted. There has been no independent oversight of NBN Co Mk II’s operation, so we can have little confidence in its operation or the facts upon which its arguments are based.
        D) We know that they are comprehensively refusing to accept/admit the reality of what the MTM will cost because it is politically inconvenient to admit that HFC is too costly/unworkable and FTTN is actually far more expensive in practice than FTTP. The reality of the final cost to Australia when you include not only the cost of the full complement of FTTN cabinets that will be required, but the cost of never achieving positive ROI (because remember their conservative 2% was actually calculated on a $30bn spend and finished years earlier than they’re talking about now – how can they possibly hit positive ROI now?), will be costs far higher than they are ever going to be willing to admit to. One day we may find out, but getting the *facts* is going to be an awfully difficult job.

    • Is anyone running a betting pool on the actual peak funding ? It’d be a brave soul who would bet on them hitting the lower end of their projections. I’d love to see a coalition MP challenged to wager their own money.
      The leaked Optus HFC document last week revealed tht they had haven’t even estimated the cost of incorporating Optus IT systems yet.

  1. 25 Mbit/s by 2016 ? Malcolm will probably claim success on the basis that people can get a satellite dish. (like Bob Hawkes “no child will live in poverty by 1990”).

  2. I wonder what comes out about the NBN from the LNP themselves, particular the Abbott backers.

  3. “MacTiernan’s mailout mimics a number of similar mailouts which Labor issued during the September 2013 Federal Election campaign.”

    Yes and we know what the result of that was, it was some scaremongering about the supposed worst case scenario cost of FoD (not that anyone knew what the FoD cost was) , and plenty of use of the term ‘decrepit copper’.

    So here we are in 2015 and what do we find oh it’s back to a 2013 scaremongering type of campaign, jeez a lot of thought went into that, with the emotive term “degraded copper network” (shh don’t mention if the copper is so degraded so as not support FTTN speeds it is replaced) and misquoting and using the upper end of the peak funding RANGE estimate of the Coalition MTM at $56B.

    Of course they don’t dare compare it with the upper end of the peak funding range for FTTP from the NBN Co CP 2016, so the smart strategy is to stay away from comparisons.

    “The pamphlet lists Perth suburbs such as Embleton, Noranda, Maylands, Bedford, Bayswater and Dianella, alleging that they are, on average, currently receiving broadband speeds of less than 10Mbps”

    The pamphlet doesn’t say what Labor would do for those suburbs as a priority if elected, the problem is not even Shadow Minister Jason Clare would know yet, so best not go there, and hope the electors in those suburbs don’t ask.

    Repeating the same mistakes of the 2013 lost campaign.

    Labor just don’t get it.

    • Realty
      What scare mongering what the MTM not going to cost upto $56B not covering underserved areas?

      Yes the FTTP in the CP16 if if they had to stop the MTM and start FTTP again. Or are you going to claim Morrow was lying about that in the senate hearing like your claim of Turnbull lying about his pre election policy with the HFC.

      So if you want to compare if they had continued rolling out FTTP in stead of the fog breakfast they could have done FTTP as little as $64B according to the SR only $8 of the up to mess we have now quite embarrassing.

      • Jason K,

        Well if you are going to quote figures at least quote them correctly otherwise you might end up being offered a job on the Labor NBN 2016 campaign think tank team.

        The FTTP peak funding estimates from the NBN Co CP 2016 is in the range $74b-$84b with a finish date of 2026-28.

        • Reality so is morrow lying to the senate now? Like you claim Tutnbull was lying about his pre election policy? As those figures are if they stop MTM now and go back to FTTP and having to deal with the cost blow out of MTM.

          So are could have been done for just $64B with the SR lol.

        • @ alain

          What was Quigley’s estimation, the one that even the CBA said was pretty well spot on?


  4. Liberals throw as much money at their ideology as possible. 56bn is only the start. Now Optus cable is rubbished they may have to go back to fibre or rollout new coaxial. The copper at the pits will all need to be replaced too.

    What they’ve done is a crime and so along with the dumb who went with it.

  5. I’d like them to include when the suburbs would have gotten the labor NBN. Under Turnbull I at least have a 3 year plan where my suburb is listed, under the ALP I received no indication at all. So how do I determine if the current NBN is reaching me sooner or later than the ALP version would?

  6. KymBo,
    you will never know this, but I do about my suburb. I was scheduled (Langford) for FTTH to start rolling out in Nov. 2013. After the election, that date disappeared from the map. After 2 years of nothing, now, the NBN is rolling FTTN here. So I’m getting MTM spaghetti 2 years later. That how Turnbull’s mantra affected me.
    Oh, and good luck with that 3 year.

  7. NBN reports of the 610,712 active services in Sept 2015 there’s only 375 active FTTN services. That’s what the current gov have achieved in 2 years of MTM, with costs blowing out by $15B! It was a huge mistake to halt FTTP.

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