Comms Minister skips Internet Australia meeting in home town


news Internet Australia, the peak body representing Internet users, has expressed its disappointment that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield “missed an opportunity” to meet with his local digital and ICT community last week.

Chair of the group, George Fong, said he was “bemused” that the Minister did not make the time to catch up with local stakeholders, despite being in his hometown of Ballarat at the time, and following multiple requests for a meeting.

“This would have been the ideal opportunity for the minister to speak first hand to people who need fast broadband and have the evidence to prove it, and to hear their stories not the filtered reports ministers traditionally receive”, Fong said.

Fong, who owns and operates a local ISP located in the Ballarat Technology Park, said he would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss the NBN rollout and “its potential impact on the economic and social fabric of rural and regional Australia”.

Ballarat is also home to Stuart Benjamin, Chair of auDA – the organisation that administers the .au domain space on behalf of the Federal Government.

“Internet Australia has been in touch with Minister Fifield’s office on a number of recent occasions asking to meet with him,”, said Fong. “We’d like to provide feedback on the NBN rollout and relay the genuine concerns of our members.”

On the same day that Fifield visited Ballarat, the Minister issued a news release concerning the Coalition’s delivery of broadband to businesses and homes in regional Australia.

However, according to Fong the reality is “more complex than the Government seems to appreciate”.

“It’s a shame we weren’t able to show Senator Fifield some of the success stories unfolding here for those businesses that have already been connect to the NBN,” he said.

Fong continued to say that those parts of Ballarat that have been provided with the high-speed fibre-based FTTP version have already benefitted greatly from the NBN rollout.

“Businesses there are now able to undertake tasks never before possible,” Fong said. “The parts of our city that have FTTP provide a benchmark for operational delivery of high speed NBN services across regional Australia.”

On the other hand, he said, under the Coalition’s multi-technology mix (MTM) model, other parts of Ballarat are now set to have the “inferior” copper-based FTTN version run out to residences.

“We are on the verge of creating a two class city”, Fong concluded.

With the availability of new, lower-cost optical fibre technologies and following a survey of members that found 80% “dissatisfied” with the copper-based MTM model, Internet Australia urged the Government and the Opposition to agree on a bipartisan NBN strategy.

Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting


    • And for your contribution you make animal noises… And then describe them. Please, we are an intelligent people, try to use words.

      • Hi David, I don’t understand. Which part don’t you approve of? The humour or the explanation? Or are you more concerned that the NBN issues are gaining traction in this election as is Delimiter in being a serious source of news on the topic after the abject failure of Main Stream Media and the first comment these people will read is that Fifield ducked a golden opportunity to cover his portfolio in his electorate during an election?

        Here are some words for you: At this point, after calling out all the issues for so long with such seriousness – laughing at the total and continued fallacy of this government and their management of such a serious nation building program, might be warranted. Sanity and all.

        You must hate satire.

        You’re welcome.

    • yesterday Malcolm was on a total of 7 interviews since the campaign started,all radio. Bill Shorten was on 25, all interview formats,not just radio. Malcolm skipped the Brisbane peoples forum so it was a Shorten only zone and did 7:30 report and is now on 8 interviews total as a result. Its like he and Mitch know that once policies are on the table and they have to sell something instead of sniping at Labor their approval will deflate with every word

  1. “We are on the verge of creating a two class city”, Fong concluded.
    Yep two class city and two class nation.

    • This is how my city will be too i fear, currently installing FTTP for all new suburbs going up and FTTN for the established suburbs. So unless we are wanting to move or afford to move to another suburb we will be stuck on FTTN

      As for Fifield, to me his no show just shows what a gutless maggot he is.

  2. ““It’s a shame we weren’t able to show Senator Fifield some of the success stories unfolding here for those businesses that have already been connect to the NBN,” he said.”

    Likely reached his cognitive dissonance limit for the day. Any exposure to additional information may have started to unbalance things.

    • Understandable that he’d dodge a meeting with a group of tech literate persons.
      After all it’s likely better for him to just be suspected of being an incompetent fool than to attend & remove all doubt.

  3. “Internet Australia, the peak body representing Internet users”

    Like the Australian Christian Lobby representing Christians? Or the Australian Liberal Party representing liberals?

    • Is your point that Internet Australia do represent the majority and for the betterment of the nation, and that the Christian Lobby and the Liberal Party don’t?

      • The ACL doesn’t represent Christians, the Liberal party doesn’t represent liberals, and Internet Australia doesn’t represent Internet users. I thought the sarcasm was clear. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • “Australian Liberal Party representing liberals”

      The Liberal Party in Australia represents conservatives, nothing Liberal about them unless it’s letting companies do whatever they want, while private citizen are monitored.

      • And that was the point I was making. Liberals aren’t liberal, ACL aren’t Christians, and Internet Australia in no way representative of Internet users. In fact the Internet by design is completely decentralised. I know there have been efforts to bring it into line, to control it or “represent” it, but at its very core it is designed just to route around such nonsense.

        I’m not denying Internet Australia are well meaning, and I don’t mean to cast aspersions by mentioning them alongside retrogrades like a political party or the ACL, but they are not representative of anything other than themselves.

        • You miss quoted them Bruce. They represent au. domain users.

          the actual passage

          >>Ballarat is also home to Stuart Benjamin, Chair of auDA – the organisation that administers the .au domain space on behalf of the Federal Government.

          “Internet Australia has been in touch with Minister Fifield’s office on a number of recent occasions asking to meet with him,”, said Fong. “We’d like to provide feedback on the NBN rollout and relay the genuine concerns of our members.”<<

          • That’s two separate groups, “auDA – the organisation that administers the .au domain space” and “Internet Australia”. They are even in two separate paragraphs, with two different people listed as “Chair of …” each group, Mr Benjamin, and Mr Fong.

      • It doesn’t. Likewise the ACL doesn’t represent Christians. And nor does Internet Australia represent Internet users.

        • Internet Australia is a chapter of the global Internet Society (ISOC). ISOC is the recognised body the oversees the creation of Internet policies and standards. IA is recognised by government, industry and civil society groups as a neutral, expert group that advocates for the development of the Internet for our social and economic development. We are a not-for-profit member based organisation.

          • What percentage of Australian internet users asked you to represent them?
            I’ve run into so many organisations over my working life that “represent” groups, that no one in those groups had any say in, they went to the government and got a grant to represent the group.
            Not saying you are doing a good or a bad job, I have no clue, because other than some comments in articles virtual no internet user has heard that you are supporting them.

    • +1

      Apparently you don’t actually need to have any experience in a given portfolio to be the minister for it. So sick of this BS form of government we are stuck with in this country that allows this crap (NBN) to happen.

      • He was and is a babysitter minister. MT needs a steady hand in comms and someone that politic it to death and downplay the MTM as much as possible.

        If LPA win through I would imagine the portfolio might shuffle elsewhere (if it doesn’t you can pretty well guess MTM is 100% up the creek).

      • The only place where you get jobs even without the required skills or experience. Portfolios and jobs just passed around to your best mates. Letting a person with a degree in Arts manage this country’s communications portfolio is a disaster in the making. I guess that’s why the NBN has become the huge CF that it is today and why Fifield can only pedal the MTM and blame Labor whenever faced with criticism. He doesn’t have the knowledge to have a proper discussion. People without knowledge or skills making stupid decisions.

  4. Ballarat, that explains it, his main priority would be to make sure Bendigo doesn’t get FTTP.

  5. Judging by last night’s Q & A, poor old Mitch would have had the smile taken off his face if he had turned up for the program or in Barnaby’s electorate.

    Those common country folk have a clear understanding of the benefits of ubiquitous fast internet that works in both directions. If mental health facilities cannot be physically provided in every country town, fast internet is a realistic alternative. And might even encourage specialists to consider a country life style. Barnaby remained unmoved. He is happy with 25 meg down and satellites indefinitely.

    • The Nationals are irrelevant now and will continue to be until the coalition is redefined or dissolved. The policies are completely meaningless because how they vote on the floor is in line with Liberal party and not in line with their own policies.

      I don’t think will change until a larger number of the rural electorate stops voting Nationals by default. It is starting to happen PUP could have made a dent but as expected Palmer buggered that up by putting his own self interest ahead of the party. Some of the other ‘independent’ parties might make a dent.

      • It is looking like a hard fight for Barnaby in New England. Windsor is pushing hard for these services. Barnaby on the other hand.. towing the party line.

        People need to start looking at what is or isn’t being done and voting accordingly.
        If you are unhappy with your party of choice at the moment, find an independant or minor that matches your beliefs vote for them first, AND then give your preference to the major you are unhappy with.

        If you don’t think the majors take notice any time a percentage point or 2 move in an electorate, you are mad. When those percentages move everywhere, I can guarantee they sit up and take notice. Look at Labor, they attack the Greens a lot lately, because the Greens are the true Labor enemy. The Greens are taking the Labor voters who reject the union elements. Unhappy Labor voters don’t go to the Coalition, and unhappy Coalition voters don’t go to Labor.
        What we really need at the moment, is a more Centrist Liberal party alternative.

        • unhappy Coalition voters don’t go to Labor.

          I did :o)

          I stopped voting Coalition when they became more Christian neocons than liberal.

          • yep, same here, two things made it more permanent, Telstra sale/NBN saga and them using Abbott as leader.
            friends made the same move

  6. The only chance you have of getting FTTP is to vote Labor. Don’t just talk about it, do it.

  7. As a swinging voter I not only vote based on the better (or least bad) combination of policies, I also encourage everyone around me to vote the same way.

    IMHO, the original FTTP NBN was the most important infrastructure project in contemporary Australia. Although I hated the infighting and back room deals, I not only voted Labor at the last election, I’m sure I convinced many friends and family to do the same. I know my vote didn’t make a massive difference (being in a safe Labor seat anyway) and I don’t agree with many Labor policies (inhumane treatment of the most vunerable people) but the biggest game-changing policy had to take precedence.

    The fact that the Communications Minister responsible for the MTM farce is now the PM is salt in the wound for any IT professional like me.

    I only hope whomever takes charge of the portfolio next has the guts to stand up to the vested interests, take a hard line, and deliver the 100+ years of real benefits that universally good infrastructure delivers.

    • I’m also in a safe Labor seat (Rudd’s as it happens), so I didn’t bother voting for them, and they won anyway. I figured they would, and my preference did eventually flow to Labor, which I knew it would. Doesn’t mean I have to put them first.

      • new senate voting will have changed stuff like that a bit I think. (although I bet the real senate paper is still waaaaay larger than the ‘sample’ one)

        • I haven’t yet studied the new senate voting rules, but I gather you can still put your preferences below the line like I always do. I can perhaps leave Liberals off completely, from what I understand just from reading news. After the 9th I’ll figure it all out, that’s when we know who exactly is running.

          Usually I study policies of everyone I could vote for, rank them, and if this is still looking like a safe federal Labor seat, and my number 1 isn’t Labor, then I’ll just make sure my preferences end up in Labor. I generally put both majors last though, except for tiny parties that I consider are outright bad. If I was in Scott Ludlum’s electorate, he’d likely be getting my number 1 vote.

          Though, for a change, the non Labor candidate I voted for during the local council elections earlier this year, actually won. B-)

          Yes, NBN is important to me, and Liberals managed to cancel the NBN FTTP I was going to get years ago, even though NBN has laid fibre past my window since. They haven’t hooked it up to anyone as far as I can tell.

        • You need to number 6 above or 12 below I believe…not sure if thats a minimum or maximum thing though…I expect there will be a few invalid votes this election.

      • Terri Butler is pretty good and I liked how quickly she brushed up on NBN facts after getting into office.

        • While I didn’t actually vote for her at the last federal election (actually by-election after Rudd quit), she’s where my vote ended up after preferences. I’ll have to look into that, Labor might move up my voting rank.

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