news Malcolm Turnbull deliberately kept the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix from being mentioned in this week’s National Innovation and Science Agenda because the Prime Minister knows the model won’t meet Australia’s innovation needs, veteran telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said this week.
On Monday morning Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull released a huge list of new policy initiatives relating to technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, as part of the Federal Government’s National Science and Innovation Agenda statement.
However, the document mentions the NBN just once, noting that the Government is investing in traditional infrastructure. This lack of consideration for the NBN as part of the package comes despite the fact that the NBN’s high-speed broadband infrastructure will underpin almost all of the other policies announced as part of the package.
Turnbull faced questions on the issue several times during the launch proceedings — firstly in the press conference to announce the innovation package, and then later that night from 7:30 host Leigh Sales. The thrust of both questions was whether the Coalition’s MTM vision for the NBN — which uses legacy technologies such as copper and HFC cables — could support the innovation package.
In a blog post published yesterday (we recommend you click here for the full post), veteran telecommunications analyst Paul Budde — who has been a long-term critic of the MTM NBN model — said Turnbull was aware the MTM model wouldn’t be good enough for Australia’s needs.
“He knows that the Multi-Technology Mix is not going to cut it when you want to boost innovation and create a ‘Silicon Valley’ Down-Under,” wrote Budde.
“If he believes in his version of the NBN he would have used it as a spearhead of his innovation policy, since in the end this policy should be all about implementing the innovations that are already available to us and the many others that will be developed in the future … they all depend on a first-class digital infrastructure to deliver innovations to businesses and the broader Australian society …”
“He is continually saying that Australian people are smart – and that is true – he is fully aware that the majority of the people in Australia don’t support his financial concerns re the NBN. Instead they would like to see a first-class broadband network rather than a second-class one. Do it once and do it right.”
Over the weekend, the Financial Review newspaper reported that the Turnbull Government was in talks to sell the bulk of the NBN to Telstra for as little as $20 billion.
The article was flatly rejected as “wrong” by Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, who said the Government had no plans to sell the NBN.
However, Budde said the fact that Turnbull didn’t mention the NBN as part of the innovation package was “another indication that he doesn’t seem to believe in it, and this makes the discussion on the possible sale of the NBN even more likely.”
“It look like the NBN policy is rapidly becoming a millstone around the neck of the government, and in that context, for political reasons alone, it makes sense for it to look for a way to get out of the hole it has dug itself into,” Budde wrote.
I agree with Paul Budde — Turnbull is clearly aware that the MTM NBN will not meet Australia’s future needs for long. The MTM was a political solution to a technological problem.
I agree with Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare on this one. I believe we will see Turnbull pivot from Fibre to the Node to Fibre to the Distribution Point (with G.Fast) for the 2016 Federal Election. Then I think we will see increasing attempts to sell off portions of the NBN after that as we come closer to the network being finished by 2020.
Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull