Scrapping or postponing the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out is the Australian people's most preferred means of funding the flood relief program in Queensland and Victoria, according to a new poll.
Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, has repeatedly called for the NBN funding to be diverted to the reconstruction efforts, claiming Queensland residents suffering in the wake of the state's catastrophic floods would rather have transport infrastructure rebuilt than the "interactive gambling" he believes the NBN will offer. However, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has rejected the comments, describing Abbott as ignorant and as displaying an inability to understand the difference between investment and spending.
The poll was conducted by social and market research company, Your Source, and released by Essential Media Communications, an agency which aids in conducting campaigns on behalf of organisations such as unions, especially in the political sphere. More than a thousand respondents voted in the poll. It is available online in full (PDF).
However, the survey didn't crown a clearly preferred solution above any other. Although receiving the most votes (28 per cent), postponing the NBN was only one of the three most popular options. Solutions such as postponing the return of the budget to surplus was the next most popular response at 24 per cent; while the Gillard Government's plan to introduce a one-off levy was the third favourite, with 22 per cent of respondents in favour of that option.
Raising taxes on mining companies was one of the least successful options — chosen by 10 per cent of respondents only — followed by selling off Medibank Private (2 per cent). There were significant differences of opinion across political factions.
The respondents who identified themselves as Labor voters were the least keen on scrapping or postponing the NBN (11 per cent), favouring instead the one-off levy (42 per cent). Meanwhile, nearly half of Liberal/National voters supported scrapping or postponing the NBN (48 per cent) against the one-off levy (9 per cent). Greens voters were spread across postponing the return to surplus (27 per cent), a tax on mining profits (23 per cent) and introducing a levy (22 per cent). Only 10 per cent of them supported scrapping the NBN.
The survey, which was conducted online from 25 to 30 January of 1053 participants aged 18 or more, showed demography could also be a key factor when discussing funding options. People aged 55 or over considered scrapping or postponing the NBN as the most feasible solution (40 per cent).
Furthermore, when asked about whether broadband services were better run by the private sector or by government, more than half of the respondents, 53 per cent, answered they believed private companies were best suited for the job. In this respect, both Labor and coalition voters expressed their favour of the private sector.
In fact, 44 per cent of Labor voters would like to see private companies running broadband, while 38 per cent of them support government involvement. Liberal/National voters clearly preferred broadband services being run by the private sector (63 per cent) instead of the government (24 per cent).