Abbott NBN view 'a danger' to Oz: Conroy

Abbott NBN view 'a danger' to Oz: Conroy

Summary: Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has slammed calls from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to cancel the National Broadband Network (NBN) in order to fund recovery efforts for the disastrous Queensland floods, stating Abbott was "robbing" Australia of its future.


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has slammed calls from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to cancel the National Broadband Network (NBN) in order to fund recovery efforts for the disastrous Queensland floods, stating Abbott was "robbing" Australia of its future.

In the days after the horrific floods that ravaged parts of Queensland, Abbott called for the government to scrap the $36.5 billion project to fund the repairs. Following Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement yesterday of a new levy to pay for the costs of repair (estimated at $5.6 billion), Abbott once again called for the cancellation of the project.

"So, look, I'm against the NBN and I certainly think that as far as the general public of flood-ravaged Queensland and Victoria are concerned, what they want is restored roads, restored railways, bridges that you can safely cross," Abbott said at a press conference in Sydney yesterday. "They don't necessarily want more interactive gambling or more movie downloads."

Conroy today labelled the opposition leader's calls as an attempt to "rob Australia's future in order to score a cheap — and tasteless — political point.

"Tony Abbott's repeated calls to scrap investment in the NBN — now shamefully using the devastating floods as his latest justification — demonstrate not only his inability to grasp basic economic principles, but a woeful ignorance of the productivity benefits that the NBN will create," Conroy said in a statement.

"Investing in infrastructure like the NBN is exactly what we need to build a strong economy — and it's a strong economy that will help communities affected by the floods rebuild and recover."

Conroy said that taxpayer investment in the project would repay itself "many times over".

"Mr Abbott's short-sightedness is a danger to Australia's future prosperity and security," he said. "Imagine if politicians in the 19th and 20th centuries had stopped building crucial economic infrastructure every time there was a natural disaster."

The Coalition is not alone in calling for a review of the project. The Australian Business Council has also called for the NBN project to be re-evaluated in light of the floods.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Government AU


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • So Abbott reckons the NBN is just "an interactive gambling or movie download" project. He probably would have fought against the motor car being mass produced too if he were around back then too. He would have complained that the horse & buggy industry would be decimated by this ridiculous new contraption. I thought Howard was old fashioned, but at least his ideals only went back half a century, unlike Abbotts that go back at least a hundred years.
  • Brilliant bluesman.... you must have put so much thought into that !!! (Duh)
  • As much as I dislike Conroy he is totally right here. Absolutely disgusting that Abbott is using the Queensland flood disaster to further his backwards agenda, it's possibly the most depraved and desperate thing I've witnessed in Australian politics.
    Hubert Cumberdale
  • Labor's wasteful spending is the only danger here. Conroy's central hypothesis: "the benefits will be so huge we don't even need to properly articulate them". I heard a lot of that in the 90's dotcom bubble that bust in 2000. Lots of wasted money on the 'new businss paradigm', where business plans were superfluous. "But, ...if you build it they will come" says Conjob. Really, he just wants to control the pipe to filter your thinking. Come on people, don't be conned by Conjob Royboy.
    Conjob RoyBoy
  • Again, Tony Abbot has been opposed to the National Broadband Network from the very beginning and he will use any excuse he can in his pitiful attempt to stop our country from being competitive against our Asian neighbours.
    All you have to do is look at Singapore, a country with zero natual resources that has flourished in our modern times, remembering Singapore had 10mb connections in 1997 when Ziggy Switkowski said all Australians would never need a faster connection than 56k. How wrong was he!
  • Great to see the Teflon Cowboy and Accidental PM put up such a 'spirited' defence of, medical and business... strangely nothing to do with the most contentious issues with NBN such as Fibre to the homes (10,000,000 of them) and the fact that home broadband requirements (now and for the foreseeable future) can be met by (or with improvements to) existing technologies and the newer wireless networks... does they actually understand the issues and where the market is going?

    Some see the outages in Queensland and Victoria as an opportunity to rip out the copper and 'update' with fibre. However, I expect many people there who previously had held on to fixed services will migrate to and ramp up mobile phone/data usage out of necessity and will not bother to return to fixed, exacerbating Telstra's fixed line woes, but kicking along their (and Optus') mobile revenues....

    ... oh and proving again that NBN FTTH is the solution to the problem that few people will have, ie it is the Great White Elephant.
  • And so how much did it cost Singapore to improve on it's 10mb connections, fibretech?
  • Copper works. Copper to mobile nodes ( towers ) work. Look at Japan.
    Ditch the NBN - iots just another ploy for Herr Conroy and his Nanny State intercept and content filtering.
    Wake up and smell the paranoid politicians.
    As Ms Gillard said - we need to defer and reprioritize the NBN back to its bottle and use the money to fix normal infrastructure that people use daily.
  • Speaking of paranoid...!
  • Welcome back Phil... been absent since those strange contradictions of yours...!

    As such, tell us how great wireless is again and that everyone will ditch fixed... as it suits your debate at the time...

    Then in the next thread (to suit your debate, at that time) tell us the opposite, tell us all about your wonderful new "fixed plan" again Phil, that was my favourite of yours.

    Ah contradictions, the NBN FUDsters second best friend behind, lies...!
  • IMHO, Conroy only keeps referring to "Abbott's short sightedness" and his other doozies such as "the benefits will be so huge we don't even need to properly articulate them", is because he cannot articulate them properly. To suggest that all Abbott regarding the NBN and the Queensland Flood Crisis, is just an attempt at political point scoring is a joke, and not a very funny one. I wonder what he has to say about the logic being used by the Australian Business Council who are also calling for a revaluation of the NBN project in light of the floods, but I guess that is another story altogether.
  • Comparing the cost of building networks in Singapore (just over 580km2) to Australia (over 7,600,000km2) now, eh self confessed Hylobatidae?

    LOL...! I bet it cost them less!
  • That comment was in answer to a post that was already comparing us with Singapore.
  • This article should disavow you of any notion regarding the possibility of wireless-only broadband:

    You need to get off the idea that wireless can handle everything.
  • I just spent a year living in Japan. Most cities have fiber to every building and household.

    No telco uses copper to mobile towers. Copper provides at most 1.5 mbps symmetrical through a T1. This is shared among hundreds of users. Today all telcos use either microwave (if they're cashstrapped), or fiber for tower backhaul.

    This is one advantage of the NBN. Because the government provides the fiber, smaller wireless providers enjoy significant cost reductions in deploying new towers.
  • Wallingford, Singapore has significantly higher density than Australia. Because of the intense urbanization and crowdedness, they can get away with deploying FTTC technologies to achieve 100 mbps. However, the majority of Australian households reside in suburbs. This makes the cost of FTTC deployment approximately equal to FTTH, hence the government's rejection of Telstra's VDSL plans and decision to move forward with FTTH.
  • It is a political point because scrapping the NBN will have no effect on Australia's budget. The NBN is financed through loan guarantees, which will be partially financed and ultimately paid back through subscriber fees and profits on NBNCo's revenues. It has no impact on the overall budget.

    One interesting consequence of the Liberal party's obstinance is the borrowed money method of funding the NBN. Presumably after a $5-10 billion initial capital outlay, the rest of the rollout could be entirely funded through subscriber revenue. It would take significantly longer to deploy the network, and you would have to start in the cities, but this would ensure no one would have to worry about potential funding problems due to revenue shortfalls.

    However, the Liberal party is completely against FTTH, forcing Labor to maximize rollout speed and compromise with Independents to rollout in the bush first.

    So here's your "articulation". Your favorite party's leader is corrupted by incumbent business interests.
  • I fully aggree that we defer the NBN and scrap the need for an extra tax.

    If we are going to tax any one, why not the people that live in the flood effected areas? They should have a GST increase by at least 1% - they chose to live in a flood prone area - they should pay to fix it.
  • Of course Japan is much smaller and more densly populated. I understand the Japanese economy has been a laggard the last decade, how could that be when they have high speed broadband? Could it be their economy really doesn't benefit because Japanese can now download high definition porn?
    Joseph B
  • "I have no doubt you'll get yours eventually."

    We all will but some of us will get it sooner than others. Seems my town is one of the ones next on the list to receive FTTH. So how does it feel knowing in a few months time I'll be enjoying a stunning 100/40mbps connection while you are still stuck on dial-up bitching about NBN all day long?
    Hubert Cumberdale