back to article Turnbull 'flat out' seeking NBN killer blow

Australia's broadband debate is beginning to take on elements of farce. For quite some time on Friday, April 19, Malcolm Turnbull, the opposition spokesman for communications, quizzed National Broadband Company (NBN Co) CEO Mike Quigley and CTO Greg McLaren about the feasibility of using VDSL for in-building distribution in …


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  1. Gray Ham Bronze badge

    Will it matter?

    Any bets, as soon as the Mad Monk and Trunchbull get in, they'll "discover" a "$10 billion black hole", the whole NBN will become a "non-core" promise and will be dropped as soon as practical?

  2. Magani

    A quotation comes to mind...

    "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

  3. bert_fe


    Turnbulls job was to destroy the NBN. His alternative plan will do just this. It is crap and he knows it. If he does not understand, he is not fit for use as a Minister for Communications. Abbott is a know nothing luddite that mouths three word slogans based on words designed to engender fear amongst the the really ignorant voters.

    It has always been a ploy of the right to get uninformed ordinary people to vote against their own best interests by just plain lying.

    As I sit here in my private jet that is a tax deduction, sipping Chateau $1000 a bottle that is a legitimate business expense I really worry about all these other tax payers that are being ripped off by the Labor Government by giving them the NBN for free! We will define the speed your net access has and you will be grateful by paying what the market sets. To bad if you live in the sticks where fast broadband could be quite useful. We will not build it!


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course we should go with FTTP

    because nothing is more important than my internet experience - not the currently unfunded National Disability Insurance Scheme, not the rejected by states Gonski education reforms (because they can't afford it), not our national defence, expenditure on which is now the lowest since 1938, not making sure our foreign debt does not exceed 10% of GDP. None of that matters, because some time in the future, having 100 mbps instead of 25 to 50 mbps internet connections is going to somehow spawn magical business opportunities that are worth $billions to the nation.

    Pass the Kool Aid.

    1. Shane 4

      Re: Of course we should go with FTTP

      Goes to show how short sighted you are! Higher speeds will allow for things that are not even around that one day you will take for granted just like now. You can always go back to your 14.4kbps dial up modem if you like!

      You think spending on infrastructure is a waste? It's the best thing any country could ever spend money on, Rather have my tax dollars being spent on this than some stupid fkn baby bonuses or first home buyers grants that just make society worse off and only benefit a minority.

      Fibre to the node, yeah that's great download whatever at super fast speeds in seconds to the end of your street then wait hours for it to get to your pc, Bad luck if it's critical work load that needs to be done! Not all out there want it for movies/games downloads, Some run business's or work from home, More speed=more opportunities.

      1. John Angelico

        Re: Of course we should go with FTTP

        <Snort!> of course!

        1. All this massive speed is potentially good ONLY WITHIN Australia.

        I suppose it could be useful if you wanted to have a realtime feed of the Weather Bureau's re-computation of the current cloud pattern, direct from its supercomputer...

        2. You can't suck any more bits out of the pipe than can be pushed in at the source.

        If there is ANY intermediate choke point, then 100Mbits/sec doesn't mean a damn thing, and a Gbit/sec won't mean any more. And if the overseas links don't give us Mbit or Gbit rates, then what have we gained - snazzier weather maps?

        And of course the national freeway/tollway network should arrive on your doorstep in all of its eight-lane glory, right? You would want the equivalent of the Basingstoke Roundabout at the end of your street?

    2. Jason Ozolins

      Re: Of course we should go with FTTP

      The idea that you could fund Gonski education reforms or NDIS out of "savings" from a scaled back or cancelled NBN has officially gone out the window, now that both Labor and the Coalition agree on one thing: whatever NBN is built by either side will be treated as an off-budget investment.

      Of course, back in 2012 when the Coalition were trying to completely destroy it, the NBN was a "budget black hole", so it's not surprising, indeed really quite convenient, that most folks going to this election will remember Mr Shouty's mantra about how many roads and hospitals could have been built using the money wasted on the NBN, without realising that the Coalition's allegedly cheaper NBN will just deliver a somewhat lower interest bill for the Commonwealth, assuming that the copper takeover is free and all the copper works peachily for VDSL. Cough.

      BTW, has anyone heard a reaction from Telstra about how it sees the Coalition's request for all the copper phone services? Do we know how much extra money they are wanting to hand over that gift horse?

  5. cabidas

    Love your work!

  6. Winkypop Silver badge

    The "Tone and Mal" show rolls ever on

    Where's that fibre going Mal?

    Fucked if I know Tone.

    Asshats the both of them.

    1. Stuart Duel

      Re: The "Tone and Mal" show rolls ever on

      Hehe, I got the Leyland Brothers reference :)

      "Where do you think we are Mike?"

      "Buggered if I know Mal!"

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You might want to check your facts first. The NBN doesn't affect funding for any of the things you've listed because it's 'off balance sheet' money. This might sound like just an accounting trick but it does actually have a basis in reality in that every dollar spent building the NBN is counted as an investment in creating a very valuable asset - a fibre network that covers the nation and which is used (and paid for) by all the Internet and phone subscribers in the nation.

    The real reason that the government can't run a surplus, despite the best economic conditions in the developed world, is all the middle-class welfare. From baby and back to school "bonuses" to first home buyer's grant to negative gearing on non-new build investment properties. These are all vote-buying schemes which create nothing and do nothing productive for the economy. Get rid of this type of thing and the government would have plenty of money to spend on defence, Gonski etc. at the same time as running a surplus to pay down debt.

    1. Shane 4

      Re: @mutatedwombat

      Great minds think alike! Beat me to the post but state some same issues I have said. ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: @mutatedwombat

      Perhaps if the government controlled inflation better, perhaps if they stopped subsidising housing thereby making the cost of living increase for everyone, perhaps if you didn't have to pay for your kids to go to a state school on top of your taxes, perhaps if you didn't have to pay thousands for emergency dental treatment for a toddler, etc etc etc then just maybe they wouldn't have to run middle class welfare schemes to pass the money back in the most inefficient way ever. It's a vicious circle. High costs of living, high minimum wage, high housing cost through tax subsidies at the top and bottom, inefficient rebates instead of sorting out the issues, inflation, back to start of loop. The Australian economy is strong in spite of the government not because of it. They have a confirmation bias caused by the world demand for resources keeping the economy afloat. They think it's their brilliant stewardship when it would have happened with anyone but the greens in control. They have constantly spent the surplus instead of banking it. This will not last forever. The shit will hit the fan at some point - google hidden Chinese debt. When it does there'll be nothing in the bank and Australia just does not have the ability to issue debt like other nations.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: @mutatedwombat

      It is true that at this stage, the NBN is all being held ‘off balance-sheet’ and so the debt being raised to finance the massive $37 billion engineering works does not appear on the Budget. It is only 'off balance sheet' because the dubious claim is being made that it will be self-funding. If that were the case, then private enterprise would have been scrambling to build it, instead of leaving it up to the brilliant mind of Stephen "spams or scams that come through the portal" Conroy. The government have realised that, and have legislated to make it a monopoly so that in the future the NBN can charge whatever it likes, without fear of competition. Rather than prices reducing over time as happens with most technology, you can expect NBN prices to rise relentlessly over time. The reason those prices will not be competitive is because there can never be any competition.

      Interestingly, after more than 5 years in Government, only 10,400 users have signed up to the Labor's fibre network. Based on the NBN's own targets - which they have consistently failed to meet - the rollout will not be finished until 2021. On its current pace, the rollout will take years longer.

      1. Happy Skeptic

        Re: @mutatedwombat

        Crying "monopoly" with the NBN is a tad misleading. Only the physical infrastructure (the fibre optic cables in the ground and associated switching infrastructure) is part of the NBN monopoly. Any ISP or telecoms company is free to provide services on top of that.

        Anyway you're not going to get competition on basic physical infrastructure like this any more than you will on the water and sewer pipes, roads or electricity wires that lead to your home. These are all natural monopolies, they haven't just been legislated into existence.

        The private sector never built anything like the NBN for the simple reason that the return isn't enough. It'll still pay back the investment the govt. made, it just won't make the kind of profit that'd be needed to entice private investors to stump up $37bn.

      2. Veldan

        Re: @mutatedwombat

        They already promised it would only rise at inflation. How generous is that!

        Considering the industry had been increasing services drastically and reducing costs by 10-20% annually I find the promises of "only at inflation" to be the most disgusting part of all...

      3. Stuart Duel

        Re: @mutatedwombat

        Oh yes, the whorey old chestnut of "competition". Yes, makes so much more sense to have a half-dozen companies building parallel and incompatible fibre optic networks than having a single piece of infrastructure open to any company to sell bandwidth on.

        With the Tories line of argument, we would never have had a nationwide copper phone network because why would EVERYONE need a telephone? What's wrong with using morse code, smoke signals and runners? That's proven technology!

        This is investment in infrastructure that will future-proof our comms network. The Tories want to build yesteryear's technology for yesterday. Well actually if truth be told, the Tories don't, won't and never want to build anything at all. A market economy might work well in a small country with a huge population to supply the needs of the people, but in a large country with a tiny population, government intervention and investment is critical. Otherwise, we'd have still have a dirt road from Adelaide to Perth.

    4. Richard Freeman

      Re: @mutatedwombat

      NBN is being funded through the sale of Bonds - so not spending on the NBN does not automatically mean that the money will then be available for Health or education but is only available for "investments".

      The plan is that the Interest on the Bonds will be paid from Income from the NBN.

      One of the biggest Black holes is the 'private health insurance rebate' which appears to have done little or nothing to reduce waiting times etc but instead costs the Government Billions of dollars every year lining the profit margin of private health insurance companies.

  8. Goresh

    Turnbull KNOWS it's a dog, but he is looking for SOMETHING that he can pull the figures for (hopefully paid for by someone else) that could support his policy in carefully worded and carefully controlled context.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    turnbull has been handed a turd to polish by abbott, as hes the most progressive and modern thinker in the party. The libs know they'l probably get in anywa, and want to discredit both the nbn and turnbul in order to prevent him from running for pm later on. Beware the old guard. But the NBN as currently planned is what should be built.

  10. Wombling_Free

    We don't call this place AUSTFAILIA for nothing you know....

    Hi, Welcome to Austfailia maaaaaaaayte... just hilp yersilf ter ar BEWT dirt an minrals.

    Darn wuury bart tem f'in smart arse whiners wif dere NBN, we's gunna shoot dat in nar nuts win we git in.

    F'in red-head bitch runnin da playce, maaaaayte wis gunna git rid a her tooos.

    BEWDY, a proppa cuntry for BLOKES whos loves BEER, FUDDY, ROOTING, SHOOTIN, an DIGGIN STARF UPS.

    Nunna dem smart-arse-pooftas roun' ere.


    Hopes yers dogs are root'n good.


  11. Stuart Duel

    What do you mean sub-space comms don't exist?

    People might remember at the start of the NBN debate, that the Coalition was banging on about how the NBN would be "obsolete" by the time it is completed because a faster technology will "no doubt" be the new standard. The chief anti-NBN cheer-leader at the time was the curious creature from Queensland, Senator Barnaby Joyce although someone who should have known better, Malcolm Turnbull, couldn't resist from that illogical and just plain wrong line of attack for some time.

    I think the Coalition was watching way too much Star Trek and confused science fiction with science fact.

    Obviously, someone with a pinch of a clue informed the Coalition that nothing known to science can travel faster than the speed of light - which is what the NBN uses. As such, that whole line of attack has vanished faster than Barnaby's sanity, but its worth reminding people just what a bunch of luddites the Tories are.

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