Former Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett has described the decision by Victoria's state government to pursue an "opt-in" policy regarding connecting residents and businesses to the National Broadband Network as "very short-sighted".
In late December last year, Victoria's new Liberal technology minister, Gordon Rich-Phillips, confirmed that the state would not follow Tasmania in pursuing an "opt-out" model for the NBN. Instead, property owners in the state will have to actively choose to receive fibre infrastructure when the roll-out hits their neighbourhood.
In addition, it is not clear whether the new Liberal State Government in NSW will follow Victoria in choosing a so-called "opt-in" policy, with several requests for clarification on the matter producing no concrete position from the government.
Speaking at the CeBIT trade fair and conference series in Sydney this week, Bartlett, who left the Tasmanian parliament several weeks ago, said Victoria's decision was "very short-sighted, frankly".
"Every state needs to start taking this seriously," the politician said, arguing that Australia needed to "take the politics out of the NBN", despite the "patchwork of Liberal and Labor states" that Australia was currently experiencing.
The office of Victorian Technology Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips said: "The Victorian Government's position has not changed with respect to an opt-in approach. We have not received an approach from either the Federal Government nor NBN Co regarding opt-out legislation."
Bartlett argued that rural and regional areas in Australia were currently facing a variety of obstacles, with "everything against the regions" standing in the way of their economic renewal. The roll-out of fast broadband, he said, offered the "brightest hope and light" for regional renewal to occur, and so consequently, every state government should be engaged in the NBN process.
See ZDNet Australia's video interview with David Bartlett at CeBIT below.