Tony Abbott has given his main leadership rival the poisoned chalice of selling the Coalition’s inadequate broadband plan, which Lionel Grant says Malcolm Turnbull should stop doing now — for his and the nation's good.
With the gun of post-electoral demotion being discreetly pointed in between Malcolm Turnbull’s shoulder blades, it’s no wonder the shadow communications minister has been so actively promoting the Coalition’s copper relic broadband plan. But, if his morbid, grim facial expressions across a majority of the policy launch in April are anything to go by, his true policy feelings could differ to Abbott’s and certain comments in the last few weeks have been telling.
Turnbull has effectively admitted that the Coalition’s plan is absolutely not ideal, whilst almost conceding his preference for doing it properly the first time around.
“It is not ideal, absolutely,” he told IT-Pro in a phone conference on August 10 in relation to his proposal.
Even more alarmingly, he admitted “to the possibility” of a need for FTTP, before confessing:
"Fibre is cheap, [just] the labour is expensive. Even if you assume you are going to upgrade in five to ten years, it makes sense not to do it now.”
These comments together infer Malcolm Turnbull knows the full fibre to the premises roll out is not only the superior policy setting, but also one that is inevitable.
A further indication Turnbull doesn’t truly believe his alternative to the NBN is better for Australia loomed large last week. Turnbull has taken to touting unfounded and inaccurate claims of NBN budget blow-outs, rather than maximising allocated media time attacking the technical aspects of the NBN whilst highlighting where his version could be better — all actions that indicate there may not be a great deal worth selling regarding his own policy.
Turnbull was quickly silenced last Friday, when his claims of a $5 billion blow out were immediately rejected by an NBN Co. spokesman, who stated:
“We’ve seen nothing to suggest that the capital cost of the project will be brought in for anything other than the forecast capital cost of $37.4 billion.”
While Abbott understandably cowers from questions on broadband, Turnbull is forced to sell a national broadband plan worth $29.5 billion, with its objective merely to link up your street node, leaving the existing post-colonial copper wires to run to the home.
Current evidence concludes that Labor’s broadband plan will bring fibre optic connections into every household in Australia at a cost of $37.4 billion, and it makes little sense the Coalition, apparently so keen on small business, would merely connect copper to the home, at a marginal $6 billion price difference.
With new businesses joining the e-commerce world daily, so often run from the home office, Abbott and Turnbull somehow seem to want to hinder rather than help this booming digital economy.
With the facial expressions of sheepish discomfort, picture painting confessions like those above, and a generally far more pro-social political mindset than Abbott, should Turnbull in fact step away from what he seemingly doesn’t believe to be right for Australia — and before the election?
With an opportunity right now to set himself free from a job too poor in policy for his own convictions, he could dramatically increase his chances of becoming Prime Minister in three years by leaving the portfolio in justifiable disgust mid-campaign.
Read managing editor David Donovan’s view on why the NBN should win the current Government the Federal election here.
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