news IT professionals’ advocacy group SAGE-AU has criticised recent comments by Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne that suggested Australians do not need fast Internet.
Speaking on the ABC’s Q&A program at the end of last month, Pyne replied to an audience member saying that Australians “simply didn’t need the speeds” that Labor’s fibre-to-the-premises model for the NBN would have delivered.
“Minster Pyne’s comments are based on a gross over-simplification of the issues involved, and as a result, are just wrong” said the group’s President Robert Hudson. “They’re even worse coming from a minister responsible for Innovation, Science and Industry – some of the areas in which faster Internet access are the most critical”
Conceding that not all Australians need Internet access with a download speed of more than 25Mbps, Hudson said: “[T]here are many Australians who already require download speeds faster than this.”
Upload speeds are also “critical” for many applications already in use by “everyday Australians”, he continued.
“[T]he upload speeds offered on the proposed FTTN services are barely any better than current ADSL services, which are already insufficient in this regard for many people’s needs,” said Hudson.
Pyne also stated that the Coalition Government’s NBN will deliver speeds that would allow Australians to “watch five full-length movies in the same household at the same time”.
“To equate Internet usage to only the streaming of movies and TV shows to TVs in a household is to completely disregard how the Internet has developed in recent years, and shows the Minister to be completely out of touch with the core aspects of his portfolio,” said Hudson. “The Internet is a business tool just as much (if not more so) than it is an instrument of leisure.”
The SAGE-AU President further expressed disappointment in how the NBN has been handled by both the Labor Party and the Coalition.
The “honorable goal” of “fast, largely equitable Internet access provided as a utility to the general population” has given way to the NBN becoming “a political football”, he said.
“Both the Labor and Liberal/National Coalition have used the NBN to score cheap political points against their opposition, and in doing so, have chopped and changed the structure of the NBN so harshly that if it will be a miracle if it actually survives and provides even 20% of the utility to the nation it should have been able to,” said Hudson.
“It is extremely disappointing to see that under the current Liberal/National government, the NBN looks to have been set up to fail, and to do so in a miserable and spectacular fashion, for the sole purpose of pointing the finger at the previous Labor government and blaming them for the mess,” he concluded.
Image credit: Screenshot of Q&A, believed to be OK to use under fair dealing