Unwinding Aust NBN would be a long road

Tony Brown/Informa Telecoms & Media
06 Sep 2011

In August 2010, Australia’s opposition Liberal/National Coalition party unveiled an election broadband policy of such ineptitude that it looked like it had been drawn up on the back of a napkin at a cocktail bar, to borrow US comedian Bill Maher’s brilliant description of the US government’s chaotic planning for post-invasion Iraq.

The Coalition policy was so poorly devised and its announcement so badly handled by then-shadow-communications-minister Tony Smith that some local pundits argued that it ended up costing the Coalition the election, though that conclusion is arguable.

What is not in any doubt is that Malcolm Turnbull had the proverbial mountain to climb when he was appointed shadow minister for communications and broadband after the cliffhanger election that saw the Labor government narrowly return to power with the support of two regional independent MPs.

On taking the job, Turnbull’s brief was abundantly clear: to rescue the Coalition’s broadband policy from the trash can and put together a credible policy that would – at the very least – be taken seriously by the telecom industry.

Rationalism the name of the game

After nearly a year in the job, on Aug. 3, Turnbull finally delivered the first significant outline of the new Coalition policy, via an address at the National Press Club. A first reading of the policy shows that it at least gets the Coalition a seat at the adults’ table.

It is hard to argue with the core themes espoused by Turnbull as part of the new policy: that the Coalition plan will deliver fast broadband to Australians in a far more cost-efficient and timely manner, and at lower prices for consumers. What’s not to like?

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