Australians think Abbott will keep the NBN

Summary:The Australian opposition still has an election-winning lead over the government, but voters believe it will keep Labor's AU$37.4 billion NBN.

The federal opposition continues to command an election-winning lead over the government, but voters don't believe that it will repeal all the Labor policies it says it will, a new survey has found.

The latest weekly Essential Research online poll found that voting intentions have held steady on a two-party preferred basis, with the Coalition unchanged on 53 percent and Labor on 47 percent.

However, despite this apparent solid winning position for next year's federal election, 54 percent of voters expect that the Coalition probably won't repeal the National Broadband Network (NBN), compared with 18 percent, who expect that it will halt the project.

Respondents were also fairly evenly split over the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT), with one third expecting the opposition to repeal the impost, while 35 percent believe that it probably won't.

There was strong support for both the NBN and the MRRT — 69 percent and 63 percent, respectively.

The Coalition has said that it won't repeal the NBN if it wins government. Instead, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that he will likely see out the existing contracts that NBN Co has in place, and will reassess the rollout with a view to implementing a more cost-effective and faster rollout. While the full details of this are yet to be released, he has indicated that the fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) rollout would likely be scaled back to a fibre-to-the-node (FttN) rollout in many places.

The poll comes as Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday defended NBN Co against accusations that it isn't properly consulting communities in Buninyong and Mt Helen in Ballarat over the construction of towers for fixed-wireless services on the NBN.

He said that NBN Co is complying with Victorian planning laws, and had lodged its development application for new towers with the Ballarat councils.

"I think if you look at those who have objected in the Ballarat region to NBN towers, I think you'll find they are opposed to all mobile phone towers," he said.

Conroy yesterday also confirmed that of the 30,000 active services on the NBN, 7,000 are on the fibre network, with the rest on fixed-wireless or NBN Co's interim satellite services. Conroy said that it was only the third or fourth time that opposition senators have asked him a question in Senate Question Time about the NBN in the last 12 months.

"I've had more questions about cuddling koalas, saving fish, and Tasmanian forests," he told the chamber.

Josh Taylor contributed to this article.

Topics: NBN, Australia, Government, Government : AU

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