“Breathtaking arrogance”: Labor slams Turnbull’s support for Ziggy breach


news The Opposition has described Malcolm Turnbull’s support for the decision by NBN chair Ziggy Switkowski to ignore the Caretaker Conventions as displaying “breathtaking arrogance”, and having opened the door for public officials to display politically partisan behaviour during elections in future.

This week it was revealed that Switkowski had willfully and deliberately breached the Caretaker Conventions which ensure the political independence of the public service and government companies such as the NBN company during an election campaign.

A letter from Martin Parkinson (PDF), the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, to Shadow Finance Minister Tony Burke, confirmed Switkowski had breached the Caretaker Conventions several weeks ago with an article defending the NBN company’s actions in targeting whistleblowers, following Australian Federal Police raids on Labor premises designed to track down the whistleblowers.

Parkinson’s letter revealed Switkowski had been “strongly” advised the article would breach the Caretaker Conventions, but ignored the advice and went ahead anyway.

Speaking at a doorstop event yesterday, Turnbull praised Switkowski and his actions, stating that the NBN chair was doing a “remarkable job” and had driven a “phenomenal turnaround” at the NBN project, noting that he respected the decision to ignore the Caretaker Conventions.

In response, Shadow Finance Minister Tony Burke late yesterday said Turnbull had given Switkowski permission to “ignore decades of precedent” with respect to the Conventions.

“Mr Turnbull today failed to condemn Dr Switkowski for ignoring caretaker conventions, effectively saying the rules don’t matter,” said Burke. “The arrogance is breathtaking.”

“The head of the Prime Minister’s own department, Dr Martin Parkinson, made clear in a letter to me this week that Dr Switkowski knowingly ignored the caretaker conventions. Mr Turnbull today not only refused to condemn this action, but supported Dr Switkowski’s decision to ignore advice from the Prime Minister’s own department.”

“The Prime Minister has effectively given permission under this Liberal Government for agency heads to ignore caretaker conventions in the future.”

Burke said there was good reason why what he said was Turnbull’s “mismanagement of the NBN” was a live issue during the election campaign.

“The voices that should be heard are those of businesses and households that have put up with long delays and second rate internet due to Malcolm Turnbull’s mismanagement of the NBN – not a highly remunerated Chairman appointed by Mr Turnbull who Mr Turnbull thinks is above the rules,” said Burke.

“Through his comments Dr Switkowski ignored the caretaker conventions with his eyes wide open. There are countries in the world where public officials intervene in elections, Australia should not become one of them.”

I have already stated my opinion that Turnbull must ask Switkowski to stand down from his role as NBN chair, at least during the election campaign period.

It is simply not acceptable for public officials such as Switkowski to intervene in a politically partisan way in election campaigns.

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. “…having opened the door for public officials to display politically partisan behaviour during elections in future…”

    Yup, a dangerous precedent has been set here…

    • So typical of the Liberal’s born to rule mentality tho, I’m just not surprised at all.

      Fookin angry tho, almost everyday these CFKD’s seem to commit another act of bastardy against the Australian ppl who they should be serving, if they get back in not only will the NBN be fooked beyond repair but medicare too and who fookin knows what else they corrupt bastards will destroy so their rent seeking big biz mates can make some extra profits!!

      PS. on Medicare, this slightly juvenile but funny video explains just how the Libs are trying to fook our medicare system over.


      • “mismanagement of the NBN”
        “mismanagement of the economy”
        “mismanagement of the caretaker conventions”
        “mismanagement of the handling of Medicare”

        Anyone else seeing a definite LPA pattern here?

        • Yep, pretty obvious they are trying to fook the middle and working classes over for the 1% and multi-national corporations!

          What they dont realise by doing this they take away the ability of us to spend money and therefore sabotage the wider economy which will ultimate hurt them! Just look at the USA lurching from recession to recession because they’ve gutted the middle classes!

          • They are trying to f### over everyone except the 1%.


            NBN being stuffed is all about allowing the their sponsors to keep monopolies and stop the small companies and startups from having any influence. Business benefits the most by having a proper NBN which would increase growth a lot more than a company tax cut. Innovation is going to be hard when all we have is bloody copper to the door.

            They have allowed offshoring all our jobs and importing people to take the last of the local jobs. We are f###ed for a long time now. Unfortunately, Labour hasn’t done much to help this either.

            I see unemployment is steady, BUT underemployment is increasing. Our wages are heading nowhere or south, costs keep going up. Most of the the costs for a household are rent/mortgage, utilities and food. What have the liberals been doing every time they get power, sell off the utilities and anything that provides an income to the government, these bastards are giving a reward for state govt to sell the farm. They want to keep the negative gearing because most of the Liberal party use it to make money. Its nothing to do with house prices, all to do with the greed of the entitled running our government.

            They push so hard for foreign investment, but why? Do we really need foreign investment? Maybe we do since there is no-one left in Australia with any money after they have allowed it to be siphoned offshore.

            Sure push your slogan of “jobs and growth” what you are really saying is foreign jobs for foreign growth. Domestic growth be damned. Stop all the jobs going offshore then maybe we can earn enough to live in our own country.

            Our local companies are being sold to foreign interests, which then use there own labour instead of Australians. CEO wages keep skyrocketing, everyone else can go to hell, this is the liberal approach.

            Malcolm will follow what the Abbot party dictated because it was part of his agreement to take the reins. I expect this will mean more broken promises and higher basic living costs, something the 1% don’t care about as they pay people to do their shopping.

            I obviously will not be voting Liberal at the election, they do not care about the 99%. Once elected, you will not see another baby kissed by a Liberal until the next election.

            Rant over….

        • Problem with having “the adults in charge” is that I know plenty of adults that cant balance a chequebook, or keep the house clean, or get the kids to school on time, and so on.

      • And lets not forget this Breathtaking arrogance too….

        (Back off, Turnbull tells FTTP petitioners: You’ve had your “democracy”) what a bastard.

    • Gee I’m sure the ABC got punished by the LNP Government for their reporting style. One rule for the ABC and one rule for the Government appointed board .

  2. Why are we all surprised?

    Remember when it was “convention” to pair off senators and that either side would always remove a representative if one of their own was chosen as Speaker? Coalition reneged on that when the Honorable Mrs Bishop became speaker. No reason given of course and was quietly dropped from the public consciousness..

    It’s all fine and dandy to harp on about following the rules, keeping your word, sticking to convention, etc. as long as it’s to your political advantage

    • Yeah, there have been a few conventions tossed out the window under the Liberals, and disturbingly, a fair chunk of them since Turnbull took over 9 months ago.

      Convention that you dont get AFP involved in whistleblower situations, convention not to breach caretaker guidelines, convention not to pair off with Speaker… The list grows.

    • It’s strange how they’re called “Conservatives” when their actual intentions are always a radical redistribution of wealth and power towards the rich and powerful.
      Something of a misnomer there.
      But then they’re certainly not ‘Liberals’ in any real sense of the word either as they’re utter authoritarians too.

      • The conservative title reflects their reluctance to spend monies in general, reflecting the ideology that competition will sort things out. Which is why you generally find the top end of town are Liberals, as those policies tend to favor business in the long term.

        • imo “Conservative” means “socially Conservative” and not liking change in any form (including protecting their biz mates from change).

          in truth most of the Lib’s are “Neo-Liberals” because that is the ideology they subscribe to (aka supply side economics).

          • Fair enough, its just important to remember that most words have more than one use, and conservative can mean vastly different things depending on the context.

            Generally, I think the same – conservatives dont like change – but thats not the context in the political field.

            Same with how Labor is generally considered progressive. The political context doesnt quite mean the same thing it would in normal conversation.

          • I think you’re right about that GongGav – but it’s worth thinking about the fact that the people who vote for this crew of extreme right wing radicals are actually old school conservatives in the main part. They actually fear change but through marketing techniques end up voting against their own interests.

          • Same with how Labor is generally considered progressive. The political context doesnt quite mean the same thing it would in normal conversation.

            Yeah, true, modern Labor is a lot more conservative than they used to be, but you wouldn’t say they are a conservative party.

            Australia slide to the right under Howard, but it seems there is a bit of a shift back to the left/centre this election, even some Lib policies (the post-Abbott ones anyway, not the Abbott ones they’re stuck with) are left of what Abbott would have done.

  3. That’s the way the dishonest roll though, isn’t it? Make sure everyone else is following the rules so they can cheat and gain an advantage.

  4. Oh noes!! Could Labor actually be right and Malcolm IS actually out of touch??!!1

    Damned straight…

    • Does that mean at one point, fleeting moment, nanosecond.. he was in touch? I am under the impression he has been quite consistent, never giving a straight answer, promising anything then doing what he want’s.
      It still means little, coming from a politician, but I was astounded to hear Shorten say the other day, that he wouldn’t make a promise he couldn’t keep. I never thought I’d hear those words from any of the breed. {as I recall it was regarding removing gst on feminine hygiene products}
      Turnbull’s been full of promises for years, all amounting to as much as Hawke’s famous no Australian child will be living in poverty by year… (we’ll just redefine poverty)

  5. But, if as happened in the past, those same agency heads say something unfavourable about the government’s policies, they are shown the door quick smart.

  6. They’ve imposed their fascist ideologies with the cabinets nobody wants. Where people are now being scammed in paying the same price for ADSL or HFC as if it was FTTP.

    So they have their ideology, their own investments and Telstra and Murdoch to defend. To do that they blew 56 billion on ADSL and HFC.

  7. Labor is banging on about delays and second rate internet, which anyone who’s worked for nbn (which I have) knows is complete nonsense!

    Rudd’s original plan was FTP (fibre 2 premises) which involves building a BRAND NEW NETWORK.. To roll this out to EVERYONE in a country as large as Australia in less time than current rollout, several hundred thousand people would need to be employed just for the infrastructure and it would cost WAY more.

    As for SECOND RATE intranet, what a load of sh!t… If you live out in the middle of nowhere, you have no right to demand the same speeds as people in the major metropolitan areas.. And 25mbps MINIMUM guaranteed is way more than most of us on Adsl2 will ever see.. nbn guarantees that to the ISPs via wireless and Skymuster satellite, so if your ISP isnt offering that they’re sh!t and you should change ISP.

    Don’t believe politicians when it comes to the nbn.. do your own homework and if you don’t have all the facts, STFU because you are just breeding stupidity!!!

    • You work for the NBN but confuse Internet with Intranet – not simply a typo.
      So I’ll take what you say with a grain of salt and like a single grain of salt that ends up on the floor ignore it.

    • Australia has one of the largest ratios of urban to rural in the world. To wave your hands at the map of the continent and say things like “as large as Australia” is just ignorance. 89% of Australians live in towns and cities. Australia, with its low-density urban population, is perfect for fibre optics. DSL works in dense cities, which explains why Australia is low on the speed charts


    • Well if you work for the NBN you would know that there is no 25Mbps min speed guarantee

    • Daniel, I think you have several misconceptions about how the internet works and how communications in Australia is organized.

      “which involves building a BRAND NEW NETWORK”

      No, it doesn’t…the core has been mostly built for some time. Fibre connections have been in place all across the country for decades now…
      What is new is the so-called “last mile”. This is the local connection from the exchange (or the FAN) to your premise. FTTN do this partway to a box on the corner called a node, but then they rely on some very old copper to take it from there for the last few hundred meters. This means that the connection is still very slow and is still susceptible to the elements (rain, floods, etc…).
      FTTP is a connection from the FAN all the way to the premise, so none of those weaknesses are there.
      In addition, it costs at least 12 times more to run FTTN or HFC than it does FTTP…and much of the copper must be replaced before it will work. This means that the costs are pretty damn close to each other for deployment.
      But most importantly, it is estimated that within the next 3-4 years, the vast majority of homes on the planet will have access to Gigabit internet…but not Australia. We will be one of the very few countries with no possibility of connecting like the rest of the world can.

      While it may be the case that doing FTTP will delay some folks an extra year for their connection, it will save many years of delays down the track on an FTTN network as the network will still need to be upgraded to work properly within a few years. So a short delay now, or many years of delay later (and 10s of Billions more spent).

    • Lol @Daniel. If someone needed to do a bit of homework, I suggest you start with yourself mate. You are deceived by our low population concentration, when looking at the country as a whole. However we are one of the most highly urbanised countries in the world, with urban population densities on par with many other smaller developed nations. The “backbone” of the nbn had to be built for either FTTP or MTM, so no difference there. FW and Sky Muster were parts of the original nbn and the MTM, so no difference there. The difference lies in the COST EFFECTIVENESS of FTTP vs MTM. It’s here that you are being lied to by nbn. FTTN is obsolescent, it’s like buying a 2016 Calendar for Christmas 2016. And it’s the cost of buying the next “calendar” that nbn and the LNP aren’t willing to publicly acknowledge, and won’t publicly cost because it blows any pretence that MTM is somehow cheaper than FTTP totally out of the water. Ziggy himself admitted that FTTN will have to be replaced as soon as the FTTN rollout is complete. It just can’t cope with expected consumer demand, the limit is the length of the copper tail and all the “new DSL tech” relies on shortening that copper tail, ie ANOTHER hardware rollout with massive capital expense. As for HFC, if you worked at nbn, you would know that there’s a reason they are calling that section “operation Clusterf*&k”, wouldn’t you?

    • 25mbps is NOT , guaranteed.. The nbn only has to supply 25mbs, (peak rate) once in any 24hr period.

    • Lol, Daniel what was your role, janitor?

      Claiming to work for nbn co while not comprehending the difference between the internet and an intranet = priceless! :-D

    • Tell us what you did at NBN Co. I’d guessit wasn’t a technical position given the number of basic errors in your post. Btw, most here don’t listen to politicians, nor people posting here pretending they have a clue, because most have been working with the technology for years and can spot someone pretending they know what they are talking about.

    • Hey Daniel. What do you make of Telstra’s NBN speed guarantees?
      No such thing as minimum speeds. Only Up to Maximum speeds.

      “Note for customers with an NBN (FTTB or FTTN) service
      Actual speeds will not be known until connection to the NBN.
      The speeds you will experience will further depend on factors such as your distance from the node, the condition of the wiring leading to your home, the number and position of sockets in the home, your in‑home wiring and modem position. If you are not happy with your speed, Telstra can work with you to improve this through Telstra Platinum (fees apply), where our tech experts can give you the support you need to get the best set-up and identify those factors that may be impacting speed and quality of service.
      When connecting Telstra services on the NBN with a speed boost, a Professional Installation is recommended as this can help you get the best performance from the speed boost. If adequate speed is not achieved within the first few months, contact Telstra to troubleshoot any issues.”

      FTTN. What a fucking joke!

    • intranet instead of internet, file transfer protocol instead of fibre to the premises ? did you really work there?

      Rudd’s original plan was Fibre to the Node actually but he got criticism for it and actually looked into it (the nationals called FTTN “Fraudband” ) and the information he commissioned recommended a full fibre rollout for most homes and businesses

      also worth noting what Tony & Malcolms original NBN plan was… “Demolish” it! that was their 2010 platform, cancel the project and just fix up provision for ADSL services to run better I think. – worst idea ever to take a person previously tasked with destruction and ask them to ‘rescue’ the project instead

    • Gr8 B8 M8, I R8 8/8

      Would not read again though. (you hooked a fair few though so well done)

    • If you live out in the middle of nowhere, you have no right to demand the same speeds as people in the major metropolitan areas.

      I guess you miss the actual point of the organisation you say you work for then….

    • “anyone who’s worked for nbn (which I have) knows is complete nonsense!”
      Anyone who’s worked for an nbn RSP (which my housemate does) knows is right on the ball.

      RSPs currently being hit with TIOs due to current nbn incompetence re:LTS launch, amongst other issues.

      “To roll this out to EVERYONE in a country as large as Australia in less time than current rollout”
      would be irrelevant. The original rollout was slated to finish in 2021, the current rollout slated to finish in 2016. (ABC Promise Tracker : promise broken)

      “As for SECOND RATE intranet, what a load of sh!t…”
      Yup cable and DSL infrastructure barely capable of delivering the minimum promised 25Mbps is first rate. Let’s ignore the competition capable of 100Gbps+.

      “If you live out in the middle of nowhere, you have no right to demand the same speeds as people in the major metropolitan areas..”
      They have the right to demand whatever they want, no less basic national telecommunications infrastructure that can deliver a simple phone call.

      “And 25mbps MINIMUM guaranteed is way more than most of us on Adsl2 will ever see.”
      It’s way more than most people on MTM will ever see, too.

      “nbn guarantees that to the ISPs via wireless and Skymuster satellite,”
      How or where have they made any guarantee on infrastructure they have under provisioned? LTS was built to serve over 200k premises with that minimum guarantee, currently scheduled to serve double that (whenever they bother to launch the second satellite). They can’t all get the ‘minimum’.

      “Don’t believe politicians when it comes to the nbn..”
      Especially the worst Communications Minister Australia has ever seen; Malcolm Turnbull.

      “do your own homework”
      If you’d care to peruse any of the 100s of articles on this site alone (let alone other non-biased, non-MSM sources) over the course of the last 2 years you’d be widely considered as having followed your own advice.

      “STFU because you are just breeding stupidity!!”
      Well said. I presume you won’t reply, then.

  8. The time has come for politics and the National Broadband Network (NBN) to become separate, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told ABC Radio in Perth on June, 14th, 2016 Tuesday morning.

    There was no mention of flying swine, nor of satire being admitted to a Perth hospice, so presumably the prime minister and former communications minister was being deadly serious, and not suffering from a case of diabolical amnesia that removed his own actions from his memory.

    “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

    • The time has come for politics and the National Broadband Network (NBN) to become separate, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told ABC Radio in Perth on June, 14th, 2016 Tuesday morning

      And he stuck with that….for ~3 minutes…

    • And to ruin the economy.

      They have done literally nothing to make up the $50b shortfall in revenue from the company tax cuts they want to bring in, so what will the want to privatise or cut to make up for it?

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