Mar 2, 2017

You, yes YOU, own the NBN, so demand a higher goddamn standard

The national broadband network does not belong to millionaire bureaucrats or Liberal MPs. It belongs to you, the taxpayer, and you have the right to demand better.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

Whenever news about the NBN unfolds, I am reminded of a 1990 film called The Bonfire of the Vanities. This comparison, in the case you were one of the few who witnessed Tom Hanks’ failure to play a corruptible man, has little to do with its plot but everything to do with its production process. Everyone was waiting for this newsy blockbuster, based on a Tom Wolfe novel -- it looked so good on paper! Then as news of its Cleopatra-sized budget blowout began to leak, and as personnel compromises were made for peculiar reasons, we began to expect very little.

Very little was what we got. Investors lost money and the book’s difficult social themes, only just upheld by the skill of Wolfe, were swallowed inside a bloated script. An American story that had, in written form, served people with its critical look at both race and the finance sector was hollowed out into a festival of nothing. Not even Hollywood’s best taglines -- "An outrageous story of greed, lust and vanity” -- could save this craven dog.

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32 thoughts on “You, yes YOU, own the NBN, so demand a higher goddamn standard

  1. Lee Tinson

    Well said, Helen! Thanks for saying it like it most likely is. Unfortunately, I think we’re stuck with it, even though, given the outrageous cost over-runs on this current failure, it probably wouldn’t cost an exorbitant amount (in percentage of total cost terms) to actually get fibre back on track. I can’t see Labor having that sort of courage or commitment.

  2. Dog's Breakfast

    Of course it was nation-building, of course you are right HR. This original scheme was as forward looking as The Snowy Mountains Scheme, and had more going for it with less environmental concerns. It was the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, but for every Australian.

    The lack of vision was and remains frightening. The costs of half doing a job badly and then fixing it somewhere down the track will be multiples of doing it right the first time. Every dollar we would have spent on building it properly in the first place would have been returned many times. The pay-off can be blue-sky, this could be the best investment we ever made as a nation. No road, rail or airport could compete as an investment.

    The system does need changing, from without and within.

    At its heart though is not just politics, but sheer ignorance and the gall of those most deeply ignorant to wallow in it, smugly, laughing at it.

    That the LNP, the great boosters of business, don’t understand the difference between a cost and in investment is the scariest part of this. There are many more bad decisions these fools can make before the public wakes up to what is going down. Costello’s prodigal stupidity looks positively benign compared to these second-rate nincompoops.

  3. Dog's Breakfast

    While I’m here, the user-pays principle for public services, while seemingly rational and benign or even positive, is one of the classic examples of perverse outcomes. It is at the centre of many things that have undone the public sector.

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