The NBN rollout has now been exposed for the debacle that it is. The ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday night saw to that. It is all about money, federal government, currency-issuing money and the miserly, mean-spirited approach to cutting edge technology by the Coalition.
We were told by the experts that the state-of-the-art infrastructure build that would take us into the 21st century was unaffordable in its original form. Minister for Communications, Mitch Fifield said it would be “fit for purpose”, a code for “not great, but good enough,” if ever there was one.
What small-minded cretins we have in government. What ignorance! The NBNs affordability has been being calculated in dollars, when it should have been calculated in available resources. As the currency issuer, it costs us nothing!
Little wonder NBN boss Bill Morrow looked so sad when explaining the dilemma to Four Corners.
We are a currency-issuing nation. We can afford anything that is available for sale in our own currency. Yet here we have a government that has wrecked a world class communications project on the strength of its false costing.
Not only have they wrecked it, they can’t even complete the wreckage on time. Malcolm Turnbull assured us it would be complete by 2016. Now, it will be 2020 and the coalition’s original costing has ballooned way beyond that which it touted back in 2013.
Let us clarify who is at fault here. The wreckage can be laid squarely at the feet of Malcolm Turnbull, who as Communications Minister, under instructions from the then prime minister, Tony Abbott, undertook to diminish the integrity of a fibre to the premises connection.
If we are to believe what former PM, Kevin Rudd said, the downgrading of the NBN was to protect Rupert Murdoch’s Foxtel from what a fibre network would offer its competitors, namely Netflix and Stan.
Introducing a multi technology mixture of fibre and copper wire to complete the project would be like Australia Post deciding that they would no longer deliver letters, leaving us to collect them at our local post office.
A further complication to what should have been a simple administrative procedure, the NBN is charging internet providers for bandwidth. Other countries do not.
Why does this project have to pass a business case? Why is the bandwidth not being provided free of charge? Why can’t the NBN be a publicly owned facility providing bandwidth free to ISPs?
Why can’t the nation own the NBN? And when was it ever about a deadline and cutting corners to achieve it? The original fibre to the premises plan was the right choice and the monetary cost should never have been a consideration.
Blaming Labor for this debacle has made Malcolm Turnbull look small. He knows only too well, the mess is his to own.
Modelling the NBN as a going concern that would be put up for sale at an appropriate time was another mistake. It should be owned by the people.
This monumental cock-up has been exposed for what it is: a neo liberal inspired, wealth creation opportunity for some individuals or groups who would make billions of dollars at the expense of the rightful owners.
It needs to be fixed now. If it isn’t, it will have to be done sometime in the future. The fibre to the premises plan set down by Labor in 2008 can be revived.
The remaining rollout can be completed with FTTP. To have one side of a street with fibre and the other side a copper wired connection as exists today in Dubbo, and doubtless elsewhere, is utterly laughable.
So many of our publicly owned assets have been sold off for no measurable return. It’s time we started owning them again.