Monday, October 28, 2013

Abbott and the NBN

The fact that Tony Abbott referred to the previous Government as "wacko" in an interview with the Washington Post has received some coverage.  But most of it has missed the point that the reference was to broadband.

An excerpt:

What have you actually accomplished?
The flow of boats is significantly reduced. We have drafted legislation to repeal the carbon and mining tax. We’ve just announced a commission to review the size and efficiency of the government on an agency-by-agency basis. We’ve taken control of the national broadband network, and we will deliver faster broadband much more quickly and less expensively than would have been the case under Labor.
Labor wanted a national broadband network?
It’s a government-owned telecommunications infrastructure monopoly, which was proceeding at a scandalous rate without producing any commensurate outcomes. We are changing the objective from fiber to every premise in the country to fiber to distribution points, and then we will use the existing infrastructure to take the broadband to individual premises.
Is that cheaper and more efficient?
But Labor wanted to extend fiber to every household?
Welcome to the wonderful, wacko world of the former government.
So you believe the former government was doing a lot of things that were bad for the country?
I thought it was the most incompetent and untrustworthy government in modern Australian history.
Be more specific.
They made a whole lot of commitments, which they scandalously failed to honor. They did a lot of things that were scandalously wasteful and the actual conduct of government was a circus. They were untrustworthy in terms of the carbon tax. They were incompetent in terms of the national broadband network. They were a scandal when it came to their own internal disunity. They made a whole lot of grubby deals in order to try and perpetuate themselves in power. It was an embarrassing spectacle, and I think Australians are relieved they are gone.

So there we have it - the NBN was "wacko".  A new term for it.

Some people have noted that the PM seems to still be behaving like an Opposition Leader campaigning rather than a Prime Minister governing.  That theme also came through in the PM's interview with Andrew Bolt.
Here the PM said;

One of the differences between the good government that I served and the poor government that I replaced, is that the good government didn't feel that its main job was manipulating the media.

It still contrasted Howard with Rudd/Gillard, not Abbott with Rudd/Gillard.

But in the conclusion of the interview he denied there was an issue in this exchange.

AB: There's a thing called impostor syndrome, this feeling of, 'My God, am I really up to this?' I think you suffered that early on as Opposition Leader. I don't get that sense of you now as Prime Minister.
PM: The short answer is no … I know exactly what you are talking about, but no, this is a position that I have every right to hold. And these are duties and responsibilities that I think I am more than entitled to discharge.

I keep going back to the way the PM deals with the NBN though, where it still seems the dominant theme is about the cost.  So I think I see the PMs hand leading the pen for Bolt to write today;

[Shorten] praised the National Broadband Network, which the Coalition will soon expose as a financial disaster worse than most critics warned.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world Google continues to provide reasons for a fibre to the home network.

Over here the simple fact is that the job of delivering a broadband network now rests with Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.  And while the Minister seems to understand that, the PM still doesn't.

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