news The Australian Labor Party has started directly calling voters to ask whether the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s handling of the National Broadband Network will influence how they vote at the upcoming Federal Election, in a sign Labor sees it as a key election issue.
Labor’s original version of the NBN saw a new-universal build of Fibre to the Premises infrastructure around Australia. However, the Coalition under Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull has substantially changed the model for the NBN, re-using technically inferior and legacy copper and HFC cable infrastructure as part of a controversial ‘Multi-Technology Mix’.
Labor has strongly attacked Turnbull on the issue since he became Prime Minister in September last year, aided by a prolonged spate of leaks from within the NBN company itself which have outlined substantial problems with the MTM model, initiated by Turnbull in his previous role as Communications Minister.
Now Delimiter has been told by a reader, known to the journalist and residing in the Federal seat of Cowan in Western Australia that Labor has started polling voters directly on whether the NBN will influence their vote.
This reader received a call from an automated interactive Voice Response (IVR) system which identified the call as being done by the Western Australian branch of the Labor Party. The call gave the local contact number for that branch.
After getting the reader’s details and organic voting preference, the call then asked specifically how the reader felt about the Government’s handling of/approach to the National Broadband Network, asking them to give a rating on a scale of one (very good) to five (poor) to determine how they felt about the issue.
The reader was then asked whether the issue would influence their vote at the next Federal Election.
Labor MPs in key areas have recently heavily targeted the Coalition over the NBN issue.
For example, Federal MP Alanna MacTiernan, who announced in February that she would not be contesting the 2016 election, has regularly heavily criticised the Coalition over its management of the NBN in her seat of Perth in Western Australia.
Similarly, Labor is heavily targeting the seat of Braddon in Tasmania over the issue, where the sitting Liberal member, Brett Whitely, has struggled to explain to the local population why they are scheduled to receive only a satellite-based NBN collection, despite having previously been promised fibre broadband in the area.
The news is not the first time that the NBN has been considered by the major political parties to be a significant election issue.
For example, a landmark report handed down in July 2011 by former Howard Minister Peter Reith into the Coalition’s loss in the 2010 Federal Election highlighted a failure to adequately respond to Labor’s flagship NBN plan as a key reason for losing valuable votes, especially in the sensitive Tasmanian electorate, which was slated to receive the network before the rest of the nation.
During the 2013 Federal Election, both Labor and the Coalition distributed extensive election material, much of it misleading, attacking each other’s NBN policy.
On this week’s Q&A program on the ABC, Labor MP Ed Husic said Australia was currently going to an election based on a thing that not many people talk about — the resurrection of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
“We’re not going to an election talking about the things that people really want to see done — the NBN,” he said.
It seems Labor considers the NBN issue serious enough to make it a major issue in the Federal Election campaign. I agree that this is a serious weak point for the Prime Minister and the Coalition in general. It will be interesting to see how Labor exploits that weak point.