Happy birthday to the NBN, shame it’s a fizzer
On 7 April 2009 Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan, Lindsay Tanner and Stephen Conroy surprised Australians by scrapping Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN) election policy and announcing an ambitious rejigged ‘national’ broadband plan at ten times the cost.
But 12 months to the day and the $43 billion surprise is still just that, all surprise and no substance to its delivery. Australians are yet to get one extra megabit of speed, or send a single packet of data down the Minister’s pipe dream network.
Labor first stumbled by ignoring the Prime Minister’s own advice on policy evaluation that; “Policy design and policy evaluation should be driven by analysis of all the available options… We’re interested in facts.”
And to this day Minister Conroy is yet to deliver those facts that he says are contained in the NBN Implementation Study.
Critical answers to basic questions like who’ll want access to the network, what they’ll pay for it, how much it’ll cost to build, when it’ll be built and what technology it will use remain unanswered.
Little wonder that he can’t show whether the benefits of the network outweigh the $43 billion estimated cost. In the absence of credible, public analysis the plan has been derided by industry experts who’ve warned;
You need to do this kind of analysis otherwise it is impossible to take rational decisions.
(Henry Ergas, Hansard, 1 October 2009).
It came as a surprise - but does anyone want a $43bn surprise? So why did it come as a surprise - because it had absolutely no thought behind it whatsoever.
(John Linton, Kickstart Forum, 28 February 2010).
NBN Co’s recent announcement of mainland trial sites might look like progress but is a far cry from a declaration of success on the mammoth task that is NBN.
One year after Labor promised high speed broadband access to every household Australians still don’t know when they’ll get connected, how they’ll be connected, what services they’ll get or how much they’ll be expected to pay for them.
One year on we deserve to see the answers supposedly contained in the NBN Implementation Study that cost taxpayers $50,000 per page.
And one year on we deserve to know what we’re getting for our $43 billion commitment to Labor’s broadband network surprise. One year on NBN still stands for ‘no-body (k)nows’.
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