news Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield has hit out at Labor’s stance on the NBN’s underlying technology, saying the opposition party could to be preparing to abandon its position on fibre to the premises (FTTP).
In a statement, Fifield said that, while Labor has been advocating for FTTP, recent public comments by Shadow Minister for Communications Jason Clare seem to be an attempt to “soften up” the public for a change in policy and a shift to using copper.
“Since its time in Opposition, Labor have consistently campaigned against anything other than fibre to the premise, and continually criticised any use of copper,” he said.
However, the minister cited comments aired on Sky News’ AM Agenda programme on 16 March that he suggested signal Labor’s support for fibre to the distribution point (FTTdp), which requires the use of the existing copper network to enter premises.
On the show, Sky’s Chief Political Reporter Kieran Gilbert said: “It seems a no brainer to me, listening to your argument this morning that you would adopt Fibre-to-the-Distribution-Point.”
To which Clare replied: “I have said that Labor will rollout more fibre. We’ll announce our policy closer to the election.”
Labor’s position now appears more like a “backflip” and in favour of the Coalition’s NBN multi-technology policy, which allows the use of FTTdp and ‘skinny fibre’, Fifield said.
Calling Labor “lazy on NBN policy, and careless with the facts”, he added that, since the Coalition took over the project in late 2013, it has connected almost 900,000 users and made the NBN available to over 1.9 million homes and businesses.
Malcolm Turnbull, when still Communications Minister, originally directed the NBN to use a Coalition specified mixed of technologies in April 2014, although a cost-benefit analysis of the model had not yet been completed.
The move followed a 2013 strategic review of the NBN, commissioned by the Abbott government, which had recommended that Labor’s fibre-to-the-premises delivery model be abandoned in favour of a mix of technologies, which can be used selectively to achieve better cost benefits in different areas.
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting