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Broadband Announcement – Another tick for Rudd

The Federal Government has unveiled its plans to implement a national broadband network that will provide “to the premises” connections of up to 100 times faster than current broadband speeds to over 90% of Australian, households, schools and businesses.

At a press conference this morning, Kevin Rudd hailed the announcement as the “largest infrastructure decision in Australia’s history” after deciding not to award the national broadband network contract to a company.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the Government would lead the development of a national fibre-to-the-home broadband network up to “100 times faster than what many people use now”.

“Years of failed policy have left Australia as a broadband backwater,” he said.

“This new super fast national broadband network is the single largest national building project in Australia’s history.”

Mr Rudd said the Government would seek investment from the private sector to build the network.

Construction would begin in the middle of the year and take “seven to eight years”, he said.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the decision was “a historic moment for Australia’s telecommunications sector”.

Mr Rudd described the $43 billion fibre-to-the-home scheme as the single largest infrastructure project in the country’s history and said it would create 25,000 jobs a year during construction, with 37,000 in the busiest year of construction.

Mr Rudd said the scheme was essential to boost long-term economic growth and set a path for the country’s economic recovery.

“It is the most ambitious, far-reaching, and long-term nation-building infrastructure project ever undertaken by an Australian government,” he said.

“Like the building of the Snowy Hydro, the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this a historic act of nation-buidling.”

The Government would hold a majority share in the company, which will also be part-owned by the private sector, and will invest $43 billion into the project over eight years.

The Government will then gradually sell its share of the company five years after the project is completed.

Mr Rudd said the company would inject a “new competitive force” into the telecommunications market.

“Today we draw a line under a decade of policy area and neglect,” he said.

“This solves once and for all the core problem created when the previous prime minister privatised Telstra a decade ago without ever resolving the conflict of a private monopoly owning the network infrastructure and dominating the retail market.”

Mr Rudd said the broadband tender process was being scrapped because none of the submitted bids offered value for money to the taxpayer, but said anyone was open to invest in the new company.

Telstra was dropped from the bidding process last December after the Government rejected its proposal.

The Government had originally said in 2007 the tender process would be finalised by mid-2008, with construction to begin by the end of last year.

In the wake of dismal polling results for Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition, the universal accolades for the way in which the Rudd Government has responded to the Global Financial Crisis – and Rudd’s popularity approaching record levels for an Australian Prime Minister – this announcement will come as a severe kick in the guts for the Opposition, who, by all accounts have failed miserably during the course of their 12 year tenure to implement a word-class and low cost broadband solution.

129 Responses

  1. A good way to go I reckon.

  2. That’s the problem with Rudd, he never does anything. Lol

    Mr Rudd said the broadband tender process was being scrapped because none of the submitted bids offered value for money to the taxpayer, but said anyone was open to invest in the new company.

    I was wondering how he would get around Telstra’s non-presence. No wonder Silly Sol is on his bike.

    A note of caution. Queensland lost its AAA rating because Bligh decided to proceed with infrastructure spending even if the private sector was not involved. Be interested to see the reaction of the ratings agencies with this development.

    Clearly Rudd is a socialist in disguise. Lol.

    Wow indeed!

  3. N5

    What I find amazing regarding these so called ratings agencies is that these are the same agencies that rated all of the now worthless securities rubbish as AAA.

    I now take their opinions with a grain of salt as they seem more politically motivated and all about the here and now instead of the forward looking outcome as a result of the expenditure.

  4. This is probably mainly political.

    I suspect that this is a way to both appease the bidders. Some powerful figures among them, and equally importantly, leave the door open for Telstra to come on board under a new, modern, more aligned management and board structure.

    I think we’ll see Telstra come out with a new image and public relations campaign, and them they’ll be rehabilitated. If only they could figure out how to get rid of those pesky unions, and get on side with the government.

  5. I don’t know much about the details, but on the face of it, this is a tick from me. Someone said it would be obsolete by the time it is finished so I guess he reckons we shouldn’t start it!!! This kind of infrastructure spending is what’s needed. Now, about the transfer of water from where it’s flooding to where it’s burning.

  6. Huge statement. nation building – snowy river & SHB comparisons, really making us believe in Australia – yes, we can!

    Bold and gutsy, (we might even see wholesale & retail telstra separated) the ALP, party of vision and the future. Meanwhile The Libs are still thinking about how to block supply!

  7. Much better than anything I had expected. Be interesting to see if there is sufficient competition in the market to justify privatisation in 5 years time but as most have suggested (and even Tom of Melb I think if I read between the lines) it’s a tick from me.

  8. shaneinqld, on April 7th, 2009 at 10:17 am Said:

    I now take their opinions with a grain of salt as they seem more politically motivated

    So do I but in the whole scheme of things we don’t count. As for ‘more politically motivated’ I suggest that it was more about ‘ideology’ rather than ‘politics’, but I take your point that their evaluations were anything but accurate.

    Tom of Melbourne, on April 7th, 2009 at 10:19 am Said:

    This is probably mainly political.

    probably? Absolutely no doubt about that! But to proceed with the arrangements as they existed would have also been political.

    And yes it was important that Telstra with all its technology and resources be part of the process. Another example of an imported CEO paid and outrageous sum to stuff things up. Unbelievable.

    As for the Unions, I suspect that they will cheer but let’s remember Rudd believes he owes them no favours.

  9. The Libs are still thinking about how to block supply!

    Indeed, the remnants of the Party of the Anal Retentives at their finest.

  10. One interesting thing that Kev said during the press conference is that according to a report published by the OECD, Australia has one of the most expensive internet services in the developed world.

    We rank number 28 out of a list of 30 countries.

    Which serves to illustrate what an absurd position Telstra became under Howard, when the rodent basically privatised Telstra.

    In contrast, Malaysia, a ‘developing’ nation has a fast wifi broadband – FREE OF CHARGE – in a number of main centres, with the IT centre of Penang expected to become entirely equipped with broadband wifi free of charge (funded by the Government) within the next couple of years.

  11. Tom of M

    Never cease to use an opportunity to throw in the word unions 🙂

  12. Also,

    an important part of the announcement is that the rollout of the fibre optic network is “to the premises” meaning that it doesn’t need Telstra’s ageing copper network – it replaces it!!

    Kind of like a big “f**k you!!” to Telstra!

  13. Never cease to use an opportunity to throw in the word unions

    US company management have a historical and hysterical anti-union (the commies are coming) bias, with Sol and the anti union, pro Workchoices liberal Party gone, the unions and telstra will likely get along very well.

  14. sorry, messed up the closing of italics

    hope this fixes it.

  15. reb

    Thats is the ideology of privatisation at all cost. Obviously Malaysia sees the benefit of the government owning something.

    Telstra ( Telecom ) built the analogue mobile service while under government ownership and it covered 100% of Australia, you could call from a rock in the simpson desert if you wished. It was ordered shut down and the building of a digital network for one reason. So private enterprise could come into the market because if the analogue network was not shut down Telecom would have a monopoly on mobiles at it would have 100% coverage. It was a condition imposed by other companies on their entering the market.

    Now if you did the same thing to a private company, lets say Woolworths and forced them to change all their shops to a different design to allow other competitors to enter the market, do you think Woolies would agree.

    Once again a government owned company that delivered to ALL of the country was partially destroyed by an ideology. Saddest thing was that this was under the reign of Keating.

  16. kitty

    They won’t get along if Tom of M is involved in the talks 🙂

  17. oh look,

    Tasmania’s going to be the first State to benefit, with work expected to commence mid this year…


  18. Oh goody. Now if Sen Conroy would just drop all this silly talk about internet filters, one might just be able to enjoy some tasteful p0rn in the hi-speed hi-def way in which it was meant to be watched.


  19. I’ll add my wow to everyone else’s wow! And even better that they’re going to (fingers crossed) start work very shortly and in Tassie which usually is an afterthought.

    Great news!

  20. ToM,

    Given your hatred of unions you must be hoping like hell the Liberals, in particular that arch union-hater, Costello, will win the next election, and never lose office again till unions are completely wiped off the face of Australia.

    Who’s going to stand up for future generations of employees if that happens? They will be in a deep hole, where, it seems, you want them to be.

  21. Hey, Caney, given your infatuation with Unions, I guess it won’t bother you in the slightest when you discover that your union superannuation fund goes through the floor shortly due to the 300% greater than normal exposure to “private assets” whose valuations have not yet been factored into members’ balances?

    KAMAHL THE MODERATOR: Why are people so unkind? Can we keep the discussion in relation to the topic at hand? Just a gentle hint.. 🙂

  22. MY infatuation with unions?

    Please try to be honest and stop passing off your own obsessions onto others. You brought them into this discussion, as everyone can see by simply scrolling up through the messages.

    Why the hatred of organisations that stand up for employees?

    KAMAHL THE MODERATOR: Take it over to the magazine stall boys…

  23. James

    When is the 300% going to be factored in ?

  24. Re Tom Of Melbourne and his supposed hatred of unions. I think people miss his point. Tom doesn’t hate unions as such but is disgusted that certain union officials use their union position for personal gain (often in the form of factional politics) under the guise of benefitting their memners,

    And as someone who for a time worked for a Union in a research capacity and was on a Union Executive for a longer period, some of what he says is grounded in reality.

    Tom doesn’t reify unions and neither do I. yet we have our differences I’m sure about the extent, effects and affects the union movement has on the ALP.

    Just sayin … Now just watch Tom come back and shoot me down. Lol.

  25. Caney, perhaps you should scroll through the messages where you will no doubt find that my only contribution was broad approval for the government’s performance on this issue. And no mention of unions.

    Kamahl, Tom, who is perfectly capable of defending himself, made a gently provocative reference to unions and got gently ribbed by a couple of posters. Then he got rabidly attacked in a post which bore no relevance either to what he had said nor the topic. My response was to that unnecessary rabid attack. Perhaps moderate the aggressor?

    Fair enough James. Just trying to avoid the discussion wavering off topic.. 🙂

  26. Shane, when these “private assets” are revalued. Problem is, it’s damn difficult to ascertain what those “private assets” are. CBUS has a massive exposure to the desal plant as far as I can tell, but it’s impossible to get any real understanding until probably after the event.

  27. Dont forget the millions of dollars already wasted on this effort. Why did they not do this from the start? The original NBN was crap and was never going to be any good. Its about time that Rudd finally listened to very expensive consults they bought in for the NBN process. Up an until very recently they had been ignored and were very frustrated with the governments stance.

    New new NBN is a combination of political pressure, bad press and the fact that the only company cable of building the network were excluded. The new network is great… Just dont forget how we got there…..

  28. Dear James,

    You’ve got me wrong. I addressed my post to Tom of Melbourne. Scroll up again and check!

  29. Tom, who is perfectly capable of defending himself, made a gently provocative reference to unions and got gently ribbed by a couple of posters. Then he got rabidly attacked in a post which bore no relevance either to what he had said nor the topic.

    Well, he shouldn’t have used some sense and not made the irrelevant, provocative and off-topic post to begin with, should he?

    You can’t say that tom started the shitstorm, but it’s all the fault of others for replying to him. He should have got a gentle nudge from the moderator at the first union reference because we all know by now how it’s going to end up!

  30. I mean he should have used some sense!

  31. Kittylitter, my point was that the gentle banter was fine until the rabid attack. You can make posts amongst friends gently giving each other a bit of shit and we can all be happy. I got stuck into Caney for being an aggressive mug.

    KAMAHL: why are people so unkind…? 🙄

  32. I got stuck into Caney for being an aggressive mug

    James, you got stuck into me in self-defence, in error, thinking I had attacked you.

    you will no doubt find that my only contribution was broad approval for the government’s performance on this issue. And no mention of unions.

    As I said, my initial post was not to you, but to ToM. Why the self-defence on your part?

    OK Mods, I’ve derailed this enough. I’ll take it over to the magazine stand.

  33. I got stuck into Caney for being an aggressive mug.

    Sounds to me like the pot calling the kettle…If tom makes an anti-union ref, why can’t caney reply to it? Didn’t sound especially aggro to me either.

  34. Aha! I see that the ‘useless’ Conroy has released Regulatory Reform for 21st Century Broadband which relates to Rudd’s announcement.

    streamlining current regulatory processes, by allowing the ACCC to set up-front access terms for companies wanting access to Telstra and other networks;

    strengthening the powers of the ACCC to tackle anti-competitive conduct by allowing it to impose binding rule of conduct when issuing competition notices;

    promoting greater competition across the industry, including through measures to better address Telstra’s vertical and horizontal integration, such as functional separation;

    addressing competition and investment issues arising from cross-ownership of fixed-line and cable networks, and telecommunications and media assets;

    improving universal access arrangements for telephony and payphones; and

    introducing more effective rules, requiring telephone companies to make connections and repairs within set time-frames

    The Government is seeking submissions by 3 June 2009, Then again I suppose the critics will be along soon to say Rudd should just do it and not consult. Lol.

    Democracy in action. For those interested here’s a link.


  35. Well, that was fun. Just back from some revenue earning activity, and find that “pesky unions” is the type of term that creates great anguish and excitement. Hilarious.

    N5, I think I’ve always been fairly restrained in my comments and reflections on the insidious effect that unions have on broad participation in the ALP.

    Now as for Caney, I think his commentary is always great value. He enjoys the mental mode that follows the following simplistic path 9and he’s not alone in this) – anyone that favours continued regulation of the more extreme elements of union behaviour = Howard Hugger = wants Costello to be PM = RWDB = pro war = anti reconciliation etc etc.

    Fortunately Kittylitter finds more entertainment in the discussion these days.

    Nonetheless, I expect that there will be a new orientation for the board and the management of Telstra, but this will be after they round up those pesky unions by 1 July.

    This new organisation will involve Telstra, and all the other powerful interest groups.

    The new Telstra management will then be able to obtain benefits of the industrial/employment outcomes without having had to do the work.

  36. ToM, An anti-union agenda is the raison d’être of the Liberal Party. Whether or not you’ll admit it, with your obsession about workers’ organisations you’re coming from the dead centre of the Liberal ideological camp. Not anyone else’s fault if you’re categorised with them. I’d be ashamed too if I were seen to be in their company.

    (Who brought unions into this anyway?)

    Sorry mods and all, over & out this time.

  37. Look who I found while quickly glancing at a blog on news.com

    Here’s a question before my government spends $50billion of taxpayers money. When the network becomes available how much will it cost me to connect to the network and download say 50gbs a month? It’s not much use having a fast network if you have a 2gb a month download limit. I think it’s a fair question so we taxpayers can decide if it’s money well spent.
    Posted by: Sherlock of Sydney 11:43am today

    And earlier:

    $15 billion and you can bet your life that will blow out to at least double) and 7 years to build a network that’s already out of date. 12mbs is a joke when many countries are already getting speeds of 100mbs. I’m already on a 24mbs network and regularly getting speeds of over 17mbs. In 7 years time when we’re finished our 12mbs network what speeds will countries like Korea be getting then? Someone please explain to me how this incompetent government has such a high approval rating? Am I overestimating the intelligence of the average voter?
    Posted by: Sherlock of Sydney 9:41am today

    At times he complained for the sake of complaining. Some things never change.

  38. Caney I got stuck into you because you were being an aggressive mug, not out of self defence, nor even defence of Tom. Just because you were being unnecessarily rabid.

  39. Well thanks A LOT migs.

    I was having quite a nice day until your brought up bloody sherlock…

  40. What about the river? What about an increase in water storage capabilities? Hospitals? Dental Plan?

    Seems like porn and on-line gambling have come up trumps.

  41. Stephan

    Rev Kev said that the broadband infrastructure would pave the way for advances in health and education…

  42. Seems like porn and on-line gambling have come up trumps.

    Unlike your preferences Stephan, some people actually use the internet for educational or work purposes.

    But please feel free to continue to use the internet to feed your lustrous desires.

  43. So in other words reb, you want me to get stuffed.

  44. Stephen

    Seems like porn and on-line gambling have come up trumps.

    My blogocrats posts will come up quicker as well!

    Seriously though – this type of BS from the conservatives is so short sighted. Faster broadband with fibre to the home would have huge positive implications for business both small and large ..that it will also speed up porn downloads is just an added bonus.

  45. Yes Miglo.

    I believe I mentioned that the other day.

  46. 🙄

    Malcolm “desperate to get a headline” Turnbull has responded by saying “it will cost a lot of money”



  47. reb

    Re Malcolms response:

    No proof that it will be commercially successful? FMD – is he really this politically (and economically) inept? Well if it isn’t commercially successfulI I can’t see much much private investment in it – the whole point of joint ownership would, I presume, to make sure that it would be commercial – the private sector won’t invest unless it will be commercially viable.

    Besides, even if it isn’t commercially viable, the Government as a whole will recoup a significant amount of the investment trough taxes on employees and corporate profits realised through productivity improvements associated with the broadband infrastructure. This is on top of revenue from the company. The more and more I look at this, the better and better it looks.

  48. The more and more I look at this, the better and better it looks.

    I agree Dave55.

    The Libs are way behind the eight ball on this.

    They really are struggling to gain traction on anything the Government does these days.

    They are just so completely out of their depth and left behind that it would be hilarious if it weren’t so critical to our democracy to have a viable opposition.

    Let’s wait and see what they say in the next 24 hours..

    Malcolm will probably come out and say that it was actually all his original idea…!

  49. reb,

    This announcement has really caught the opposition (and everyone else) off guard – only this morning on AM, the opposition were still whinging about Telstra being excluded on a ‘technicality’. That was their biggest criticism of the process and now the obviousness of why Telstra was such a poor choice for the NBN provider has been made clear.

    One other thing worth noting is the lack of leaks surrounding this announcement. This must be the first major announcement by the Government that has caught everyone by surprise. It has pushed the ‘makes girls cry’ story off the newstands that’s for sure.

  50. I think Elizabeth Knight is on the money over at smh.com.au.

    Why on Earth anyone thinks that Rudd’s announcement is good news for Telstra is beyond me….

    The response to the Federal Government’s announcement that it will build a brand new $43 billion fast speed communications network was curious indeed. Telstra shares on the New Zealand stock exchange fell like a stone, but on the Australian Stock Exchange shares skyrocketed. I think the New Zealanders got it right.

    Telstra has been sold off heavily over the past couple of months because of fears that it would miss out on the opportunity to get a foot in the door of a new competing network, thanks to its decision to put in a non-conforming tender.

    And that’s exactly what happened this morning. Telstra will be getting some new serious competition at the wholesale level. And while this new company being set up by the Government to build and operate the new network will ultimately be partly sold it’s hard to imagine Telstra getting much of it.

  51. Once again the LIberal Party talk about things being commercially viable. If previous governments took this view we would not have the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Snow Mountains Hydro Scheme or the Sydney Opera House to name a few.

    Creating infrastructure for the common good of all does not need to necessarily provide a commercial return. What is wrong with it simply breaking even ?

    This is the Merchant Banker side of Turnbull showing its colours as well.

  52. Watch the Liberals resist the National Broadband Network with every fibre of their being.

    The Liberal Party by their actions and words show they are not interested in the common good of all.

    “Private affluence, public squalor”: That is the ethos of the dinosaur Liberal Party.

  53. Caney

    Surely they would resist with every “optic fibre” of their being?

  54. That’s what I meant Joni. You just say it better than me. 😉

    Here’s a snippet which I found interesting:

    The decision to go with a government controlled entity in the creation of a $43 billion national broadband network puts the current debate about the role of government front and centre of politics.

    It is a debate that Rudd will relish for two main reasons: he thinks he’s right, and because he thinks Australians will agree with him.

    It is a debate that will force Malcolm Turnbull into further argument about the role of government in times of economic crisis. So far, it’s an argument that he’s losing badly.


  55. Caney – i saw the italics and thought that what you meant – hehe…

  56. And Telstra is up 5.3% at 1530.

  57. Thanks Caney,

    That was a really interesting link. I liked these little snippets from Kohler in particular:

    An excessive amount of hyperbole is about to fly. The language from the politicians will become extreme. Expect to hear the words “Whitlamesque” and “socialism” spluttering from the mouths of Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott and Turnbull.

    This plan is genuine nation building. It’s a plan that impacts on every Australian household. It will benefit every household and business – large and small.

    Yes, there will be worry and argument about cost. But if Rudd can show that his public-private business model has a realistic ‘get-out’ then have no doubt that he is on a political winner.

    In times of economic crisis citizens expect their elected governments to actually do something – and not simply rely on markets and wait for the sun to shine.

    Australians support Rudd’s stimulus package, just as they reject Malcolm Turnbull’s opposition to it. They will see this project – compared with the iconic Snowy River scheme – as something positive from government.

    The global economic crisis has recast the role of government. It has also recast the debate about that role.

    Could this mark the beginning of the end of the Liberal party as a political ideaology in Australia..?

  58. Caney and reb

    He even mentions the snowy mountains hydro scheme. Good Lord, maybe I do make sense.

  59. Caney – “An anti-union agenda is the raison d’être of the Liberal Party”

    You seem obsessed.

    It may be that the contrary is true, that it is the union affiliation with the ALP that politicises industrial relations.

  60. Tom of M

    And Business donations does not politicise the LNP ?

  61. The creation of a new public instrumentality will be interesting for an ALP government.

    It is a long time since we’ve had a new one, we’ve (fortunately) been more inclined to offload them.

    Traditionally these types of organisations have been monolithic. They’ve been so top heavy with all the corporate style overheads and services that make many public institutions so grindingly inefficient.

    I think this one will be different. I’d expect it to look more like a holding company, with very few direct employees, fairly lean in assets. Lots of contractors to provide internal services, and a fully outsourced model of actual delivery.

    It may well represent a new model for public sector administration, some of the traditional chain draggers should take an interest.

  62. Tom of Melbourne, on April 7th, 2009 at 5:11 pm Said:

    new public instrumentality will be interesting for an ALP government.

    ALP? Surely you mean a Rudd government. Poles apart! As for:

    It may well represent a new model for public sector administration, some of the traditional chain draggers should take an interest.

    new model I’m prepared to bet that this new ‘authority’ will make Twiggy the model look positively obese,

    But there is also lots of taxpayers’ dollars involved so there will have to be an audit trail to eliminate sweetheart (corrupt) deals like those negotiated by Silly Sol via Telstra on the local scene and by Dick Cheney with Halliburton in the good old USA.

    You know there will have to be some standards and transparency – I would hope. Always trade-offs.

  63. I don’t much understand this. But does this mean that because Telstra couldn’t put up a reasonable proposal that the government is going to do it all by ourselves, thereby regaining partial ownership of an important instrumentality that should never have been fully privatised in the first place. No wonder Sol took his money and ran….

  64. I likey. Can we buy bonds?

    Ruddy seems so determined. Fire in his eyes. Not that smirking, GOTYA look that the Howeirdians put out on public display.


  65. I don’t wish to turn this into a discussion about transparency in the public sector.

    The focus on the public sector is on transparency, efficiency and delivery is discounted. The transparency is often internal, and administrative intensive. The process is not to protect the public interest, it exists mainly to protect the minister from political criticism.

    The processes are stifling in a contemporary organisation. They are unlikely to exist in this new institution, so why put up with this structure in the old?

  66. By the way, above is in response to earlier comment by Nature 5.

  67. Interesting reactions across the blogs as summarised at PollieGraph

    Joshua Gans on the Core Economics blog says that when he heard the Government’s announcement, ‘I almost fell off my chair with delight. If I am reading the news correctly, the government is going to do it themselves with a fibre to the home network that will put Australia right up there with the world leaders in this space.

    Trevor Cook says:

    We should all be cheering from the rooftops, at last a decision that might actually put us on a par with the best in the world. And because it’s wholesale, we might get some real competition (not just a one and a bit duopoly).’

    More here.


  68. Oh dear – Nick Minchin just does not get it. He thinks a broadband network is a telephone company?

    You are so wrong Mr Minchin. If you do not know what you are talking about you should leave the building.

  69. Any predictions for the next poll numbers?

  70. Tom of M

    You call public authorities top heavy. I have worked in both public and private enterprise and to me both are top heavy. As regards secrecy and not being fully accountable. Public institutions sweep things under the carpet by political manouvering. Private companies sweep things under the carpet by claiming “Commercial in Confidence” or tying up the actions through long and expensive continual court challenges and delays at the companies expense.

    For myself the main difference is a public utility does not need to be commercially run and therefore can provide a service to aussies anywhere without the need for each and every component of the operation to achieve a commercial return.

    A private company will only operate where it can achieve what it determines a satisfactory commercial return.

    Hence closure of bank branches of all the banks once CBA was privatised. Closure of Telecom offices once Telstra was privatised.

    If you tell me that the service now provided by these companies is better than it was under public ownership then I claim you are incorrect as I have worked for both and saw the deterioration of the service in the name of profit. Spending 2 hours on the phone to Telstra to try and get internet or queueing up behind 50 other people in a bank branch is not my idea of service.

    Phones were to be answered by the third ring and no more than 2 people in a queue during my employment days, my how things have changed in the wonderful world of customer service.

  71. I caught churnbull on the 7.30 report last night blathering about the government wasting tax payer dollars on a plan that has not even been costed or without out a valid business case to determine its market sensibility. And then it occured to me, how dare our government use our money to build us a badly needed service that private industry can’t do. The nerve of them. No wonder the libs are ropable.

    Of course, this could all turn out to be a white elephant for the government, because, who knows, in a years time, a brand new technology could turn up that renders fibre optic obslete. Sort of what fibre is going to do with cable. If that is the case, it will be a very expensive mistake, which labor will pay for dearly. So it is also a very brave move, and one that is years behind schedule.

  72. shaneinqld, on April 8th, 2009 at 7:41 am

    While I respect Tom’s wishes not to derail the thread and debate ‘transparency’ etc in the public service, I think it’s desirable to set the record straight in some areas at least.

    Yes it’s true to say that both private and public sector organisations can be top heavy. From time to time ALL organisations prune ‘back office’ staff, because over time some functions are over-taken by technology or the ‘need’ for that function has gone.

    As for:

    Private companies sweep things under the carpet by claiming “Commercial in Confidence”

    Yes they do but Commercial in Confidence is quite common in the Public Sector as well. Tenders for public infrastructure, for example, are usually protected by Commercial in Confidence because without that protection most contractors would be reluctant to tender. Simply. most companies don’t want other companies to know how their buisness operates.

    Public organisations, like private organisations, can deny access to information on the basis of Legal Professional Privilege. FOI applications are often argued on that basis. Sometimes it is successful but sometimes it is denied. Again, there are good reasons for that which go back a long way but in essence ‘protect’ the lawyer-client relationship.

    As for ‘court challenges’ they also occur in the public sector as well.

    Just for the record.

    Having said that, I am in sympathy with the sentiments you express.

  73. N5

    I agree with all of your comments, was just trying to point out that private companies are just a guilty as public entities but in a simple way.

    Many poeple seem to think that the only ones to sweep things under carpets via many varied means are publicly owned enterprises.

  74. Tom R, on April 8th, 2009 at 8:22 am Said:

    could all turn out to be a white elephant for the government, because, who knows, in a years time, a brand new technology could turn up that renders fibre optic obsolete.

    Indeed! But waiting for something that may or may not eventuate was the hallmark of the Howard years. AGW is the classic example but delays with respect to investment in infrastructure and education are also characteristic.

    Turnbull’s approach reminds me of Samuel Beckett’s Play Waiting for Godot . Beckett’s Play opens with Estragon struggling to remove his boot from his foot but eventually gives up muttering,

    Nothing to be done

    In today’s re-enactment, Turnbull struggles to remove his foot from his mouth and eventually gives up muttering.

    Nothing can be done

    Rudd is grasping the moment. He is not occupying himself eating, sleeping, talking, arguing, singing, playing games, exercising, swapping hats, and contemplating suicide.

    And yes it is a Whitlamesque moment. But in the very best sense of the term.

    Just sayin ..

  75. Re transparency

    While private companies can be top heavy in terms of numbers and salaries, ultimately there is clear accountability – to shareholders/owners. Ultimately the leaders and processes applied have to produce a commercial outcome, as Shane points out.

    The public sector has a particularly diffused path of accountability (in my opinion).

    I wasn’t a public servant but used to go to meetings with them sometimes, they’d hunt in packs. I couldn’t go to a meeting without seeing 8+ of them, each manager took an assistant. Anyone remotely interested came along – plenty of sandwiches, rather than the subject matter, was the attraction.

    Much of the inefficiency in the public sector results from unclear or shared accountability and the myriad of processes applied to justify a façade of transparency.

    The public sector creates positions to administer processes that are only internally relevant. This is bureaucracy and it must be stifling for public servants.

    This new institution will look nothing like the old style public monolith; it may represent a model to be replicated across other sectors. The chain draggers should beware!

  76. Minchin was on the ABC rambling on about why on Earth would the govt consider fibre to the premises rather than fibre to the node as previously proposed..


    because fibre to the premises replaces telstra’s archaic copper network and thereby eliminates telstra’s stranglehold on retail and wholesale supply of bandwidth.

    Is he that thick, that he needs someone to point out this simple fact..?

    Obviously the fact that the Government is capable of providing a service to the public is simply beyond the comprehension of the Liberal party unless there’s the opportunity for their big business mates to make some dollars out of it.

    Disclaimer: the author of this comment works for a big business but can’t afford to buy big business shares. He buys plain brand cheese and budget milk too.

  77. reb,

    As I posted last night, Minchin thinks the NBN plan is just another telephone company.

    He does not have a clue.

  78. Nature 5

    This is why I think it is a brave move by Rudd.

    I had read, I think in Crikey, that he cannot make any hard decisions. Just expensive ones. This is a hard decision, it is putting your foot down and saying this is the technology we are using. Not easy in such a rapidly changing industry.

    And yes, Turnbull is lloking more and more ridiculous.

    He complained the stimulus packages did not provide enough investment, and now he is against investment???

  79. Tom of Melbourne, on April 8th, 2009 at 9:20 am Said

    ultimately there is clear accountability – to shareholders/owners

    Surely you jest. Just one example to make the point. Telstra shareholders voted down the salary package proposed by the Board to be paid to Sol. A clear expression of shareholders/owners will.

    The outcome – the Board paid.

    Of course in theory, the shareholders could have outed the Board. But that’s only in theory because as anyone who watched Insight last night will now realise (if they didn’t already know) that to be a member of a Board in Australia at least, one is to be part of a very exclusive club which translates to support regardless of what the punters want.

    As Mayne pointed out last night, even if one is a demonstrated incompetent (Chair of ABC Learning was the example cited) one still gets relected to Boards if you have club backing. The ex ABC Chair is still on Boards.

    Put simply, There’s the theory of how it’s supposed to work and then there’s the reality of how it works.

    On a lighter moment, I one asked why it was necessary for three (3) members of the Gender Equity group to attend a particular conference when only one was giving the address. It was explained to me that the other two were there to CLAP at the end. Lol.

  80. N5

    That is completely correct. Many have this notion that boards and CEOs are somehow accountable to shareholders, yet shareholders are also readily denied information under “Commercial in Confidence” guidelines. So shareholders who actually own the company are denied information simply because the board deem it commercial in confidence.

    If a company is answerable to shareholders then it should be open and transparent and information readily available, the majority of businesses are far from that.

  81. Mmmmm being a member of a board one is to be part of any exclusive club. Does that mean they are a union ?

  82. Nature 5, yes board membership of the public companies is a fairly exclusive club.

    I’m surprised that the superannuation funds aren’t a little more active, some are union funds! I must admit, I though unions, through these funds, would be a little more active in promoting some freshness in board membership. It seems that only individual union officials who hold shares, such as Bill Shorten, attend AGMs and provide a little testing.

    I’m sure anyone would agree that sending 3 members of the gender equity group to a conference is a little over the top. But what type of organisation has so many gender equity problems that it actually needs 3 people to help sort them out?

    I suppose those 3 are always busy meeting the people from the Work/Life Balance Dept, the Social Justice Officer, the Training in Diversity Manager and the rest of the dynamic “People are Our Most Important Asset” team. Not to mention those that spend their days hanging out with the pesky union delegates/officials.

    Meeting Agenda – People Dept (all day)

    1. Gender Equity Officers – reclassification of position to Senior Clerical Officer Grade 11.
    2. Grievance of Training Officer – flexi day not flexi enough, too many alfalfa sandwiches during training sessions.
    3. People Dept Union Delegate Complaint – pie warmer broken and wants Nescafe not Maxwell House.
    4. Other Business

  83. I think it is worth comparing the approx $40bn stimulus package with this approx $40bn investment.

    The broadband roll out is obviously far more value, and will create tens of thousands of jobs directly and many more indirectly.

    Compare this to handing out billions for cash and home insulation. It seems bizarre that the government can take decisions at such extreme ends of the competency scale.

    Is this because one was developed by Swan, the other by Tanner, Conroy, Rudd?

  84. Tom of Melbourne

    The difference with the broadband rollout and the stimulus is that the stimulus will see activity in the economy NOW. Don’t know if you watch the news, but apparently the cyclone is upon us, so we need action now. It is not the greatest return for dollar value, but probably the best return for immediate action. The rollout is longer term.

  85. Tom of Melbourne, on April 8th, 2009 at 10:27 am Said

    think it is worth comparing the approx $40bn stimulus package with this approx $40bn investment.

    Indeed it is. But before the public perception (mis-perception) gets too locked in about this $43 billion it should be stressed that only $20-$23 billion will be public funds and this will be spread over 7-8 years which is at the most $3 billion a year. It pales into comparison does it not given its spread when compared with recent stimulus efforts.

    On the downside I have never ever heard of a technology spend coming in on budget or even close to budget. The technology people always seem wildy optimistic. But to be fair it’s often the optional bells and whistles that are too good to refuse.

    Nevertheless, a good deal of time, money and expertise should be employed in desiging the specifications with all types of penalty clauses etc locked in place. (Then the lawyers can have a picnic, Lol.)

    While it will be a political bonus in the short term and should be worthwhile in the long term, the medium term will present political problems because of the inevitable stuff ups, delays, cost over-runs and the like. Also people will become impatient and I’m sure Tasmanians will complain about the prices charged.

    There’s always a downside.


  86. Another point to note is that the government is going to issue bonds to fund the NBN. Bonds that the public can (and I suspect will) buy.

    I will definately be in line to fund the future of this country (wow – two lots of investment today that I have put my hand up for).

  87. The stimulus package is poorly directed, ignoring the $10bn being handed out to the not so needy, there’s the BILLIONS being spent on home insulation.

    How many ramshackle houses with leaking roofs and rusty guttering will be insulated? No one knows. How much will be wasted?

    This is one of the most ill considered HUGE expenditure of public funds I’ve ever seen.

    With this much money, we could probably build Crapperville, and enclose central Australia in a fly screen!! That is, we could spend the money stupidly, rather than outrageously

  88. I really do not like the term Crapperville. (too small)… how about Crapopolis?

  89. “Crapopolis?”

    Nice Joni. I ilke it…

    It sounds so much more majestic and awe-inspiring than Crapperville….

    (As long as I get to live in Crapopolis Heights)

  90. Tom of M @ 10.16

    You really do hate unions don’t you.

    First you scorn the unions and expect them to stay out of business because they are parasites. Then you want them to be active in superannutaion and board membership, but Oh thats right you have been lambasting the union superannuation funds for weeks and forecasting 300% losses on investments.

    Your comments while at times I agree with, are now starting to look like wanton desperation to validate your anti union diatribe at any cost.

  91. Tom

    I hope to get an anti-union thread up after lunch. Unless you want to write one (have a look at the story on smh.com.au)?

  92. Shane – “Oh thats right you have been lambasting the union superannuation funds for weeks and forecasting 300% losses on investments.”

    Don’t wish to be overly difficult Shane, but you’re confusing me with James.

    You did this yesterday too.

    James ought to be very offended by this. I ought to be pleased.

  93. oops sorry Tom must be having a brain burnout day.

    Am on leave from tomorrow for a week and a bit so must have brain in neutral.

    You probably think I have it in neutral most of the time.

  94. joni, on April 8th, 2009 at 11:11 am Said:

    how about Crapopolis

    Problems! Polis means ‘city’or ‘city-state’ which is far too grand. If one is determined however to be all Greek and sophisticated may I suggest ‘Necropolis’ . Has much greater predictative power, given the proposed location and even with the high speed Broadband


  95. N5

    Actually I think the “polis” is appropriate… I have been to Persepolis in Iran – which is in the middle of the desert too.

  96. Yes Joni, I’ve seen – “union parasite creams off funds of sucked in members, for his own licentious activities and to get into a better paying job.”

    Is this something worthy of commentary? It seems like just another day.

    Although this one is notable as the official involved was patriotic enough to support our own world class domestic brothel industry. Unlike the ‘fact finding mission’ we saw last year from one of his counterparts.

    You’re welcome to put up the post, include above opinion if you wish. While it may not appear so, I have to make some money today.

  97. No Reb, you’ll live in Crapopolis Upper

  98. Tom

    As long as it’s the “Paris end” of Crapopolis I’ll be happy.

    I certainly don’t want to be anywhere near Crapopolis Downs or Crapopolis Estate…

  99. joni, on April 8th, 2009 at 11:45 am Said

    I have been to Persepolis in Iran – which is in the middle of the desert too.

    I haven’t been there but I still support:

    Necropolis meaning ‘city of the dead’ — a graveyard.

  100. Once upon a time, may years ago communication was an important issue for government. This was due to our isolation, not only isolation of major centres but our isolation from the rest of the world. Therefore we had one of the best communication systems, telephone, airlines in the world..even the school of the air and the flying doctor service.

    But somehow we got left behind.

    We have no option but that the $s must be spent or else we will be left even further behind.

  101. I don’t mind what we call our vision of a vast, inland city. The hub of a vibrant transport junction.

    The centre of and industry where we finally have a competitive advantage, where the dry, hot climate will allow these natural resources to flourish and be nurtured and harvested, yes the emerging “insect caviar” or “veal d’mouche” (ie processed maggots) industry.

    The grander the name, the better.

    I plan to live at Chateaux de Crapperville.

  102. Reb,

    Or Crapopolis Waters. Yech, the floaters.

    As long as we get proper broadband and no-longer have to put-up with that product Telstra laughingly calls broadband, I’ll be happy.

  103. We have no option but that the $s must be spent or else we will be left even further behind.

    It’s a good point Min.

    Minchin and Turnbull might be going apopleptic about how much it’s all going to cost, but have they thought about the costs of not doing it..?

    What will be the cost to future generations if we don’t keep up with other nations…?

    As I mentioned the other day, Malaysia is progressively rolling out a national WIFI network which is completely free of charge.

    When we visit Penang, we just switch on the lap top, and straight away you get super fast broadband at no charge.. It’s bloody brilliant!

    And here we are in Australia, a supposedly “developed” nation arguing about whether or not to roll out fibre…


  104. I suggest the urban nomenclature planners consult the deities in the matter of divining a name which sticks – through the media of buzzwords, flies, and arcane scatological analyses likely to reveal the inherence of the principle of universal attraction of abundance to the matter at hand.

  105. Tom,

    I plan to drink Chateaux de Crapperville while overlooking Evan at Crapopolis Waters..

    Does that mean that Crapopolis would be the capital city of Crapopolia…?

  106. That’s exactly what I was thinking Legion.

  107. Likewise reb..youngest Ezza has access to much faster broadband via uni.

    Some might make twee comments about faster porn, but the reality is things such as being able to teleconference.

    And yet again..Turnbull is just being obstructionist..Nooo, don’t do it, it might cost MONEY. What about from Turnbull How to do it better.

  108. And wireless is fine in a small(ish) area, and in areas where the number of users is not large.

  109. Reb – “Does that mean that Crapopolis would be the capital city of Crapopolia…?”

    Let’s not be too ambitious yet… though the “Democratic Peoples Republic of Crapopolia” sounds very attractive as a longer term plan.

  110. reb, on April 8th, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Opportunity costs and opportunity gains…the Opposition keep pointing to the raw costs of the exercise, without making any mention of externalities, many of which are intentionally positive, if difficult to measure. How many new businesses, and how many existing businesses with renewed agility to compete nationally and internationally, and new abilities to reach untapped B2B and B2C segments, will flourish in the new technotopia of national fibre optic capabilities? (In general, the free-marketeers seem to have more than a few problems rehearsing opportunity costs and gains, and contemplating externalities outside of an immediate ‘me, me, me paradigm’, except deftly ignoring or shifting negative externalities onto others). Yes, it’s expensive; no, thinking about what the proposed ICT infrastructure ‘means’ doesn’t stop at the thought-terminating line the Opposition attempts to draw around the *gasp* dollar cost.

  111. Shane, can I point out that I never said there would be 300% losses in investments. What I said was that the exposure of some industry superannuation funds to certain private or unlisted assets was 300% greater than other super funds, and that these unlisted assets had yet to undergo their revaluations for determining their values within the super funds. Given that I don’t know what the unlisted assets are, let alone what their values might be, I cannot possibly know whether there will be any losses at all. Alan Kohler wrote some weeks ago that he thinks they will be significant. All I am saying is that there is an element of risk which has not been sufficiently disclosed to the super fund members.

  112. Legion, on April 8th, 2009 at 12:36 pm Said:
    reb, on April 8th, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Opportunity costs and opportunity gains…

    If you don’t have a go, then you’ll never know.

  113. Reb said:

    Disclaimer: the author of this comment works for a big business but can’t afford to buy big business shares. He buys plain brand cheese and budget milk too.

    Then he goes and buys $100 bottles of shiraz!

  114. Ssssshhh! Miglo…

    You’re blowing my cover…..

  115. Sorry to revert back to topic here (the swing towards talking about wine almost swayed me though) but, following on from something Min said over at the Honeymoon thread as a criticism of Turnbull (oh so easy at the moment), I thought I would look at some of the politics of this a bit more:

    We need to be careful here when referring to the opposition because on this one, we need to distinguish the Libs and the Nats; the Libs could be doing themselves a lot more damage with this opposition than they think. Don’t discount the agrarian socialists – the Nats, supporting the NBN proposal in the Senate.

    As Rudd pointed out last night on the 7.30 Report and Swan this morning on RN, the actual mechanics of how this will all work are still to be established. Turnbull is right in saying that there are no figures available but that is acknowledged by the Government. In fact I think the Government, once it realised it had to go down the path had to make that known, at least to the tenderers and realistically to everyone given the $$ contemplated; the announcement really needed to be made before any concrete figures (other than estimated totla rollout cost) was known. The Libs (not the Nats) have jumped on this lack of figures as a flaw in the proposal but the reality is that most people out there in the real world see this proposal for what it is – absolutely f#@k’n necessary regardleses of cost to Government. The Libs still don’t recognise this so they’ll be stuck in the dark ages forever. The Nats on the other hand are well aware of the advantages of broadband because they have seen what the lack of it does to small rural communities.

    Before this can go to parliament, the Government will finetune the proposal and get the full costings and profitability projections etc together. This will probably take over 6 mths so we wont see any legislation until the end of the year. There is plenty of time for Turnbull to backflip on this but I can’t see it happening, they have made their bed and they will be forced to sleep in it. Meanwhile, expect the Government to woo the Nats (probably with early rollout of the network to some targetted regional areas for testing (Manilla in NSW used to be Telstra’s favorite testing ground) which would please Windsor and Katter as well, X and F during this period. The big probs I see with X and F is if they start lobbying for controls on gambling and some ‘family friendly” related controls on IT traffic as part of the proposal. This is why Labor either needs to use the Nats or keep the legislation out there until late this year early 2010 as a DD trigger to get rid of F at least and boost the ALP/ Greens numbers (at the probable expense of the Libs).

  116. Have Malvolio and the Libduds contemplated the cost to our children and their children if this country doesn’t do something about the crap internet we have? We’ll really have a huge debt hanging over our heads.

    And saying that a better technology may be around the corner, so we should wait and see if it happens, is patently ridiculous. If we did that, we’d still be waiting to see if someone could top the wheel!

    Sometimes you just have to jump in and worry about whether the water’s cold later.

    reb, re Malaysia’s new WIFI roll-out. Malaysia is 23 times smaller than Australia with a population density of 76.6, compared to 2.7 for Australia. Malaysia and its 25 odd million people would very comfortably fit into SA, with 50,000 square kms to spare.

    Provision of a brand spanker for them would only be a fraction of the cost of cranking up even a fairly basic system here.

  117. Good point Jane re size of Malaysia in comparison to Australia.

    One major difference is that they’re actually ‘doing it’

    Where there’s a will there’s a way.. It seems in Australia we’re still not sure if there’s a will or whether there’s a way…

    meanwhile tempus is fugitting…

  118. reb @ 8.27pm, point taken, but I think they wouldn’t be quite so generous if they only had 1.5m inhabitants (roughly the population of SA).

    However, at last we have a government which is prepared to make the infrastructure investment which the Libduds had every chance to invest in while there were truckloads of money rolling into the coffers.

    Malvolio and the Libduds have been left coughing and spluttering in the dust as the government’s horseless carriage accelerates away from Dodge.

  119. I really am having trouble understanding the oppositions, um, opposition to the broadband plan.

    Turnbull has said:

    If as the industry analysts say, if this would require households who are currently paying say between $40 and $50 a month for broadband, to pay $150 a month for broadband, where is the evidence households will do that?

    Well, Malcolm, it is simple really – people will pay more for a better service. Happens all the time really.

  120. joni

    As Poss has pointed out on his Twitter as well, the Opposition’s estimates are based on a per dwelling or per premises rate. Commercial users will use this far more and pay much higher rates than residential users. The broadband will also do away with the need for a home line (additional cost to broadband) and may facilitate better Pay TV options (possibly more savings). It is a nonsense to compare the NBN broadband proposal to current residential ADSL plans.

    A further consideration is that this would be rolled out in cities and larger towns first which have hiogher rates of return to investment than the far flung regional areas. The areas where it is rolled out early will start to generate income which will help pay the later costs. We are not talking about $43Bn being needed straight away and paying interest on that from the start. All the costings I have seen so far overlook this basic point. Sure the Return on Investment has to factor in the total $43Bn cost at the end of the day, but a lot of the interest (and capital) on early rollout areas will pay for itself pretty quickly – it is the regional areas that will always need propping up and subsidising by the city users.

  121. Absolutely D55. All the opposition keep saying is how the consumer will pay, completely forgetting the business use for the network.

    As I said yesterday – I will invest in this by buying some bonds. Are there any other blogocrats that think they might invest?

  122. I am paying $115 per month now. That’s $70 for internet + $30 for land line + $15 to ‘engin’ for VOIP. And I am currently unemployed and 63 years old.
    I definitely pay $100 for NBN @ 100mb with the ability to upgrade as is necessary for TV etc.

  123. “Are there any other blogocrats that think they might invest?”

    Yes. Hopefully someone on this blog knows enuff about it to fill us in. Went to ABC on-line but nil about the topic today…unless I missed it.


  124. Good to see you on here Muskiemp.

  125. Hi N’
    I am often in here reading the posts with a very occasional post.
    I am also at ‘the PB’s ‘ blog.

  126. It seems that Turnbull might have a few problems. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/04/09/2538997.htm?section=justin

    Joyce opens door for broadband negotiation

    When we had the Turnbull thread, I said re ‘Mr Popularity’ at 18% is that the perception is that Turnbull is being seen as obstructionist. And now we have 2 important Liberals opposing Turnbull (from the Oz)

    SENIOR Liberals in two states have delivered Malcolm Turnbull an embarrassing rebuff, rejecting his staunch opposition to Kevin Rudd’s proposed $43 billion high-speed broadband service.

    Tasmanian Opposition Leader Will Hodgman and West Australian Treasurer Troy Buswell yesterday split with their federal leader, backing the Prime Minister’s plan to spend at least $21billion of public money to provide broadband 100 times faster than existing services to 90per cent of the nation.

    We are in a situation how in many regional centres eg Geraldton that there is no choice, it’s dialup or pay mega. Now how much does dialup cost? That every time you turn off the computer you have to PAY to reconnect. And then there is the problem for businesses and families where you have to have at least 2 phone connections as you cannot be on the internet and the phone at the same time. That is, when you are on the internet nobody can phone you. And this isn’t expensive?? Sounds a bit primitive doesn’t it.

  127. Min, it certainly is. And then there’s the whole downloading even the smallest bit of info. It takes ages, and I’m talking hours, here, if it doesn’t time out after 10 minutes.

    Then we’ve got sattelite. $500month for 5 gigs, essential if you’ve got 4 people who use the ‘net, two of whom are in their early 20s and you want more than an OAP on a pushbike providing download speed. So you’re usually paying up to $1,000 if you go over your allocation, which usually happens. No slowing to dial-up speed in this scenario.

    Then you can have wireless-much cheaper and if you’re on a liberty plan, you slow down to dial-up if you go over allocation of 10 gigs for 4 people. There you have it and Malvolio reckons $200/month is expensive. He is so out of touch.

  128. Probably a bit late with this thread but was thinking after forwarding easter greetings to friends and family..this has taken over 1/2 a hour just for 714kbs, admittedly there were a number of these sent.

    But what must is look like for businesses..1/2 hour and the slack i*iot still hasn’t bothered to reply. But it’s not the slack idiot, it’s the slack internet that Australia is still stuck with.

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