Just say no

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That is how I would class the Coalition’s broadband policy if they had the guts to say what it actually was. The policy is basically: we will not be building the NBN and instead will spend $6 billion on plugging the usual gaps via some other means. They are claiming to provide something cost effective and still give people what they want. It is unlikely that is the case because the regulatory issues with Telstra will still remain and, in any case, the Coalition is in no rush.

The sad thing is that they had the opportunity to sell the policy legitimately and according to their values. Here is what they could say: “Broadband is a private good. Many people want fast video downloads and the like and the well-to-do are able to pay for them. Labor is offering no choice, you must pay for such downloads whether you want them or not. Instead, the Coalition wants to let the market supply these things but will also make sure that in outlying areas, the market has some help.” It is a clear and simple message and one that Australian’s have a right to hear.

I am not saying I agree with that argument — I don’t because the market is dominated by a near monopoly and hasn’t worked and I see this as being more than just about broadband. But given the way the Government is selling broadband — that it is big and ‘gold class’ — the Coalition, if they had real values, should surely oppose it for that very reason. and be honest about it. They don’t, so they look weak, unknowledgeable and out of touch with technology. The Government was actually vulnerable precisely because their sales job on broadband is divorced from Labor values. The Coalition doesn’t seem to be able to take them on.

3 Responses to "Just say no"
  1. The key ideological difference between the two broadband policies, IMO, is that Labour view it as a public good whereas the Liberals view it as a private good. I was leaning towards the Liberal Party in this election, but this hodge-podge approach to developing what will be a critical piece of national infrastructure in the coming decades has me questioning whether it is genuinely a “policy” or just another tool used to politically attack their opponents as wasteful.

    The NBN would have so many positive externalities associated with it; its more than just a tool for households to access media. As such, it needs to be viewed as a piece of public infrastructure, akin to a new rail link or port. It will give the nation the ability to ditch the absolute reliance on mineral exports and further entrench our standing as a global economic leader punching above our weight.

  2. Gan
     
    Why are redressing the Coalition’s policy is such a way as to suggest that what they are prescribing is somehow different to what you think they should say.
     
    The $ 6 billion government funding in their proposal is actaully heading to the bush.
     
    A nice retraction and an apology is in order.

  3. What are the public good/positive externality outcomes of the NBN? I just don’t see them.

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