In a speech to his Liberal and National parliamentary colleagues, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has claimed that Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull "virtually invented the internet in Australia".
Abbott today outlined the plans that the Coalition would have for government, should it win the federal election. His speech came just before new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's first press conference since returning as prime minister yesterday morning.
Abbott said the Coalition's broadband policy, which would see the National Broadband Network (NBN) scaled back to a fibre-to-the-node (FttN) network in most areas currently slated to get fibre to the premises (FttP), is strong because of Turnbull.
"We have a strong and credible broadband policy because the man who has devised it, the man who will implement it, virtually invented the internet in this country. Thank you so much, Malcolm Turnbull," he said.
Turnbull's notable position in the telecommunications industry prior to becoming the shadow minister for communications was his role as the founding chairman of OzEmail from 1994 to 1999. Contrary to Abbott's claims, OzEmail was the 33rd internet service provider (ISP) in Australia, but by 2002, the company had become the second-biggest ISP in Australia behind Telstra. Turnbull and the other founders of OzEmail sold the company to WorldCom in 1999 for AU$520 million.
iiNet ultimately picked up OzEmail in 2005 for AU$110 million.
Abbott's statement is reminiscent of the internet folklore that former US Vice President Al Gore claimed he invented the internet. Gore said in 1999 that he "took the initiative in creating the internet". The man referred to as the "father of the internet" Vince Cerf has defended Gore's claim, stating that Gore was a strong supporter of advanced networking in his time in the US Senate.