Jan 13, 2016

Who you should blame for the NBN (hint: not just Turnbull)

A cabinet discussion paper proposed cheaper, faster cable -- fibre to the premises, one might call it. And that cabinet was the Hawke cabinet, in 1991.

Josh Taylor — Journalist

Josh Taylor


When talking about what he faced as the minister responsible for NBN, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was fond of recalling a joke about asking for directions from a pub in Ireland and being told “I wouldn’t start from here”. It is a jab at what he believed to be the deficiencies of the former Labor government’s broadband policy, but telecommunications policy has been a problem for governments dating back even to the Hawke era.


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34 thoughts on “Who you should blame for the NBN (hint: not just Turnbull)

  1. Coaltopia

    Sorry, but the buck stops with Turnbull: he kyboshed FTTH. Adding just one HFC network could’ve made sense, but his switching to node is a short-sighted, ultimately more expensive boondoggle.

  2. AR

    He broke it, he owns it and he’s now in the hot seat.
    Meanwhile Fraudband alreadys costs more for far, far less of lower quality than SpaceCadet Conroy’s back of a tram ticket proposal.
    And it can only become worse, slower and even more obsolete.

  3. drsmithy

    Who do I blame for the NBN ?

    John Howard, who allowed Telstra to be sold off without first divesting it of the physical infrastructure that should have remained in public hands.

  4. drsmithy

    The 1991 report predicted that in 2010 Australian homes would have access to broadband providing “high-capacity communications services” including HDTV, video telephone, home shopping, and energy management”. Most of us are still waiting for that.

    How do you figure that ? “Most” people would have access to the few Mb/s of ADSL (or better) necessary for those things. It’s not a particularly high bar.

  5. Hunt Ian

    Well, yes but Murdoch is to blame for much else besides the failure to build a progressive FTTP network, including the crazy belief in low tax and spend policies and privatisation, which threatens to rob Australians of the communications benefits they would otherwise enjoy. These policies were what inspired Turnbull to come up with his silly hybrid. We only need to ask a more precise question: which politician is to blame for our NBN mess to get the clear unequivocal answer: Turnbull.

  6. Jaybuoy

    It’s Mr Broadband wot dunnit..

  7. Bo Gainsbourg

    Bottom line is that if you adopt the rhetoric of running the country on ‘business principles’ you will be bereft of the intellectual heft to deliver proper infrastructure like an NBN to the home. Turnbull isnt the great intellectual he’s made out to be, he’s just got a smoother way of articulating dopey policy positions. Running a country is different from running a business. Doesnt matter how many times you run around saying innovation if you can’t deliver a proper public policy outcome.

  8. zut alors

    Quite right, not just Turnbull but also the thickheaded Abbott bears blame.

    However Turnbull is the person who understood the implications of undermining Rudd’s original NBN & turning it into a concept slightly short of two-cans-&-a-string by comparison. Abbott was never bright enough to grasp the potential of a first class (albeit expensive) NBN, Turnbull realised the value of it but became his willing stooge.

  9. klewso

    Turnbull is the “Lance Boil” in this Mal-administration.

  10. billie

    The writer should do some research before writing
    A good place to start is Delimiter or Paul Budde

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