Turnbull should demonstrate broader comms nous

Turnbull should demonstrate broader comms nous

Summary: However you feel about the national broadband network, it’s hard to dispute that lately, Australia's Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband Malcolm Turnbull has been struggling to find new traction in his arguments against the project.

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TOPICS: NBN
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Most of his arguments about the NBN, like most policies under Tony Abbott's Coalition, seem to have relied on a modicum of fact, a generous dose of blind stonewalling, and general Abbott-esque revulsion of the Labor government.

Now, with Labor's popularity apparently on the rise, a major element of Coalition politicking has been defanged. Turnbull must up his game and stop being a bottomless font of NBN opposition (an area in which, despite the noise, he has ultimately accomplished little more than generating a massive stream of oppositional media appearances, and negative but ineffectual press coverage).

The Coalition is now sliding towards an election-time NBN policy that's not much different to that of Labor; in the end, for all the sound and fury, I bet an elected Abbott would end up grudgingly accepting the NBN as unchangeable, despite his long-held philosophical aversions.

It's not too far from Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu's grudging continuation of Labor's smart-meter rollout, after a study determined that it would be too expensive to stop the roll-out and run two different networks concurrently.

Indeed, hating the NBN is getting harder and harder every day, as Labor announces one new positive-sounding NBN target area after another: this week, for example, it singled out 16,600 householders in three Queensland cities who will be able to access the NBN by next year.

Then it announced the opening of its Gold Coast call centre, which will create 130 new jobs in a state whose Liberal leaders are shedding jobs left, right, and centre.

If it's safe to say that many of them will vote Labor to simply ensure that they get that NBN connection, or that in-demand job of answering phone calls — what will that mean for the Coalition?

Indeed, even if it's not yet available in your lounge room, it is not incorrect to argue that the NBN is gaining momentum as a platform for both telecommunications progress and broader policy issues, like the creation of jobs.

If we accept that Turnbull, to date, has failed to delineate a clear and coherent alternative NBN policy with enough credibility to swing voters the Coalition's way — does that, therefore, mean that Abbott's crew has no hope of winning next year's election based on Turnbull's telecommunications portfolio?

Not at all.

Turnbull could create a significant ideological divide between the Coalition and Labor by publicly talking more about such legislation, and its potentially harmful effect on innovation and the privacy of everyday Australians.

Although he's sure to keep up his token NBN opposition through next year's election, Turnbull may find more traction by broadening his scope a bit. Indeed, his almost exclusive focus on the NBN suggests that he may have forgotten that his communications portfolio encompasses a broad range of issues, many of which have little to do directly with the NBN.

The furore over data-retention laws is a good example. Here, we have a disastrously intrusive proposition that has failed to win public support, has put Attorney-General Nicola Roxon on the back foot, and could become a nightmare election-year for Labor if the Coalition makes it so.

Desire to protect privacy is an extremely non-partisan policy, and it's one area where the Coalition can starkly differentiate itself from Labor by resoundingly rejecting the current government's proposals.

Coalition members have already done so, of course, but this is one debate that's not going away overnight. If Turnbull wants to win hearts and minds, he should consider elevating the discussion over data retention and hammering home why it's a toxic policy that should be resoundingly rejected by voters.

Unless, of course, he's actually in favour. In which case, the public deserves to know that too.

Ditto internet filtering, which continues to haunt Senator Stephen Conroy, despite a prolonged period of buck-passing on the government's part. The Coalition is apparently against it, but Turnbull seems to have little more to say on the issue. Conroy was recently blasted after he suggested that Telstra and Optus had implemented the government's mandatory filtering, when in fact, they had only implemented mandatory filtering that nobody seems to be as concerned about.

The difference, of course, is that their filters are private-sector reactions to very valid concerns about execrable practices, such as child pornography. For some time, Labor represented the expansion of these protections to an unacceptable degree — and if he's smart, Turnbull will redirect some of his ferocity on the NBN to revive that point in the public debate.

Copyright laws are another area: in response to widespread piracy, Australia is currently in the throes of subjugating its citizens to the depredations of US-centric copyright holders. Turnbull's beloved private sector has finally begun digging itself out of the hole that BitTorrent created, as usage drops in response to a plethora of legal content services. This may not only reaffirm his faith in private-sector ingenuity, but also, if he chooses, supporting a policy platform that rejects over-intrusive copyright measures.

After all, heavy-handed copyright measures represent as much government intrusion into the operation of the private sector as they present opportunities for its benefit. Turnbull could create a significant ideological divide between the Coalition and Labor by publicly talking more about such legislation, and its potentially harmful effect on innovation and the privacy of everyday Australians.

There are many other issues in telecommunications about which Turnbull weighs in quite rarely: content regulation, for example, or the looming digital TV switch-off.

Private-sector stimulus, telecommunications service standards, wireless network congestion, spectrum auction policy, and even his plans to prevent Singapore and Hong Kong suborning Australia as centres of cloud-computing excellence would all be viable topics for discussion.

Or, Turnbull could just keep on banging on about the NBN right up until election day, promising details of a policy that will — if history repeats — be sprung onto the public a week before the election, and be spruiked with straight face and little sense of irony.

Abbott and Turnbull (or, as the case may be, Turnbull as PM and Paul Fletcher as communications minister) may well choose that path — but by ignoring the rest of the telecommunications industry to push tired NBN arguments on a jaded populace, the Coalition is simply weakening its platform and handing the telecommunications portfolio to Labor on a platter.

Australians might thank them for it, but Turnbull will be kicking himself if he wastes the opportunity to revisit the rest of his portfolio, and reframe the discussion in terms where he can actually gain solid ideological ground.

What do you think? Is Turnbull missing political opportunities by ignoring the rest of his portfolio? Or he is actually looking after it just fine, thank you? And, is there still any way his NBN arguments will win ground?

Topic: NBN

About

Australia’s first-world economy relies on first-rate IT and telecommunications innovation. David Braue, an award-winning IT journalist and former Macworld editor, covers its challenges, successes and lessons learned as it uses ICT to assert its leadership in the developing Asia-Pacific region – and strengthen its reputation on the world stage.

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23 comments
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  • Great article, totally nailed it. I've noticed in the last few months Turnbull and his apologists have been struggling with the debate. Fibre is what everyone is expecting now. This will only become more exacerbated as the months roll by, the election result (whatever happens) will do little to stop it. If the coalition clowns halt the rollout and go their FttN patchwork plan instead every time something goes wrong (and it will) they will rightly cop the blame. I for one will be most amused.

    As for Turnbull, yeah I think he should concentrate other areas since he is failing miserably with the NBN. Maybe as well as the data retention issue he could also challenge Abbott for the leadership lol.
    Hubert Cumberdale
  • Ah yes but

    ... the one remaining ZD Turnbull apologist and his idiotic chasing his own tail comments, won't be too far away I'm sure HC...LOL!
    RS-ef540
    • Indeed. But I do wonder what happened to the rest, could it be that they were in fact all the same person? Wouldn't surprise me lol.
      Hubert Cumberdale
      • Indeed...

        Funny you should say that...HC.

        Sometimes when you see a comment you think, that reeks tosh and that one alain and that visionary (what an ironic name).

        Then Michael over at Delimiter sounds like good old Richard here at ZD...

        So they are either all reading from the same script, obviously picked up from the political party they bow to, or they are indeed one or two sheep bleating the same crap, over and over...
        RS-ef540
        • I cant be certain but I think micheal was the one that was posting here under another name (was it fregers or fred skeklel?) and quickly disappeared when it came to light that he didn't vote or live in Australia... meh all the same script like you said.
          Hubert Cumberdale
        • RS-Rizz-Fizz- Fizzy-Beta-Wing Commander- ? - RSagain

          Well well well, after all this time I am still on your mind, opps "who am I writing too?" is it RS, Rizz, Fizz, Fizzy, Wing Commander or the new RS?
          I gotta feel sorry for Richard. He has yet to learn that both RS (and his many other personalities) and his discontented friend "Hubes" continue a circular discussion. I still laugh over my "refracted wave technology" comment that Hubes wanted source data and quotes. btw "refracted wave" refers to waves in the sea.
          Blank Look
          • Come clean at last... well done...

            Oh hi Richard... I thought a little nudge here or there would force your hand...LOL!

            Now you can answer and support your own comments just like the good ol' days eh?

            But unlike last time, better remember to change those monikers over, d'oh...still one of the funniest things yet, here at ZDNet... the winner still being your mate alain/advocates before roads there were no roads, of course.

            Keep up the great work guy ;-)
            RS-ef540
          • LOL. So here we find that after a long absence from ZDnet "visionary" decides to chime in again, talking about a "refracted wave" discussion that even I cant recall. That one must have weighed heavily on your mind to be bitter about it for so long. Sorry I hurt your feelings and handed your ass to you on a plate. I just wish I could remember it :-(
            Hubert Cumberdale
          • Yes well..

            It is difficult to remember one in particular HC... after all, there were soooooo many ;-)
            RS-ef540
    • I'm no apologist for Turnbull

      It isn't apologising to point out what you claimed someone said wasnt correct. You were wrong, man up.

      i don't believe the Liberals have a policy, certainly not what I've seen. As I've said on a number of occassions these Liberals are slighter smaller big govt, yet you two keep insisting I'm some Liberal member (i'm on the record as never have been).

      You invent strawmen arguements, now some conspirancy that I'm someone else (when I've posted on zdnet under my own name for over a decade).

      As for Labor the article left out their most disgusting attacks on free speech and their push for control over the media. All these issues have been raised by a number of groups, includin the Liberal party but great work by the IPA in particular, the media (and ZDNet) only interested in articles on the NBN. And here we are...
      Richard Flude
      • Hmmm...

        "It isn't apologising to point out what you claimed someone said wasnt correct."

        Correct... but it is when the person correcting is the one who is actually wrong (ignoring the analysis and baselessly saying it won't happen as projected, because I say...????).

        And when the reasoning for I say, simply mirrors every word MT and the opposition have ever uttered about the NBN...well?

        "I'm some Liberal member (i'm on the record as never have been)."

        Ok you aren't a Liberal "member" (not supporter or voter). Anyway you certainly appear to waddle and quack like a duck ;-)

        "You invent strawmen arguments"

        Ah the old safety net comes out again... when in a corner, scream ad hominem/personal attack or strawmen... nice. Of course let's not forget who hypocritically, called who a troll.

        Who did that?

        "As for Labor the article left out their most disgusting attacks on free speech"

        If you are referring to filtering and data retention, I agree! How about that one of us is fair dinkum after all (pssst, that'd be me).

        And from my understanding the Coalition oppose both of Labor's stances, so I applaud them.

        And do you know how I came to this conclusion Richard? I weighed the evidence, and made a call based on this evidence at hand. I didn't rely on gut feelings that this won't occur or that won't occur, or looking at track record the opposition will reverse this. I weighed the evidence and the evidence says the Coalition are opposed to such moves.

        Just like I did with the NBN.

        Perhaps you ought to try this common sense approach with the NBN, instead of reading your own bias into the analysis?
        RS-ef540
        • the hypocrisy

          You were wrong about Turnbulls comments.

          Second item (strangely grouped with the first) I haven't ignored the analysis (often referring to it), nor is saying forecasts might not happen are baseless - actually by definition I'm right. NBNCos has already failed to meet their own predictions from their first plan - its on the historical record.

          That you believe I mirror MT's every word shows how uninformed you are, demonstratively incorrect (this post alone).

          You should write more about ducks, you clearly dont understand my nor the Liberal party position (which aren't the same).

          I called you a troll because you fit the definition; as your arguement do with ad hom, appeals to authority and strawmen. Given the abuse directed towards me in previous posts I'd say I was restrained.

          No I'm not talking about just filtering and data retention but all the points noted. One in particular is far more sinister - used often by yourself: political control of the "hate media" and other restrictions on free speech. I wouldn't expect you to understand the historical parallels with such demands.

          Only a delusional or juvenile person believes his opinion is unbiased. Our experiences and education affect the way we evaluate the world. Clearly mine (considerable on both counts) differs from yours. As I've said repeatedly I'm happy to defend my position (not your imaginary version).

          I find it confusing you believe you weigh up the evidence, most sources of information you dismiss as bias and politically motivated.
          Richard Flude
          • Naaaaah, you were wrong... your turn... *rolls eyes*

            Richard!

            I don't know whether to laugh or cry that my fellow Aussies are so shallow? Because I have heard it all now... you say you refer to the evidence?

            So what proof do you have to back your claims that NBNCo/the NBN will not be successful or will not meet it's ROI targets...? Let's see a URL link to something, someone of actual substance with analysis, rather than, because Richard said!

            Well...?

            You may have noticed too, that I support Labor's NBN and the Libs non-filter and non-data retention...wow, someone who doesn't toe the party line... you have never eh, now what, confusion reigns?

            I have shown that I have no political impartiality you have not and seemingly can not... delusional, juvenile or not... period. Sadly, once again your bigotry and trumped up, chest beating pretentiousness comes shining through... it's funny how you claim to have no associations but quack, waddle...!

            Ironically had this been me saying uninformed, delusional or juvenile you would now sob, ad hominem/personal attack (as you probably will with me mentioning bigotry and pretentiousness...LOL) so seriously, harden up... Dick ;-)

            Hate media... yes. You will not accept that "simply" the Tele misled, but talk hate media...? Those true colours are now really starting to shine through :-(

            Also, interestingly someone else previously asked if you actually were MT as your comments were so obviously parrot fashioned? Remember?

            You said that you and MT have very similar financial knowledge, so...? Yet here you are now denying any comparisons at all. As usual in the anti-NBN psyche, it's ok to say one thing and then later, contradict oneself completely to suit the agenda at any given time, it's all part of the FUD experience!

            And you are happy to defend your position...LOL??? Yes that explains why when I asked a number of simple questions (about 3-4 weeks ago) over about a week or so, you did not reply once...! Enter further lame excuses......... here, now.

            BTW even though I'd suggest that you are with all intents and purposes, more of a troll than I will ever be, I will not stoop to your level to actually call you it :-)
            RS-ef540
          • "you say you refer to the evidence?"

            I don't know what this is talking about?

            It is not possible to show a prediction about a future event wrong, as by definition it hasn't happened. But neither can one show it is correct! All one can look at is to evaluate the claim using similar events (eg return of similar investments) and the success of past predictions (by this measure NBNCo's figures have been way off). Both I've continuously posted.

            I argue risk, you see fact. I argue the risk and cost associated with it is to taxpayers, you argue none. One of us doesn't understand risk; given my qualifications and employment my money is on me.

            It is no surprise that MT with his finance qualifications and background and would have a similar understanding of this topic, especially compared with people of no education in this area. This isn't the same as saying we agree on everything.

            "Yet here you are now denying any comparisons at all."

            I'm not, i rejected your invented conspiracy theories.

            "I have shown that I have no political impartiality you have not"

            I agree, strangley you think that is a good thing.

            I'm confused; you really believe some peoples opinions (yours) are unbiased? To call this position juvenile or delusional is correct. Children think others see the world as they do, it is something they grow out of because it isn't so. How is this even contestible? This is not the same as calling you juvenile or delusional, you identify yourself as such by believing your opinion is unbiased and others biased. This topic has been discussed for thousands of years; you need to broaden your knowledge.

            "You will not accept that "simply" the Tele misled"

            I accepted all media, as all people, make mistakes in a post after it was first raised. You keep raising a press council ruling against an article I never used as if it means something. I reject the media (particulary the spectrum of sources I've quoted) are all biased against the government.

            I don't know of your questions 3-4 weeks ago; perhaps it was because I was taking my annual holiday in August, perhaps I read them an felt they weren't worth answering. It isn't always about you!
            Richard Flude
          • Refer you tube dog tail AGAIN...

            Does absolutely everything have to se spelled out to you Richard (visionary...LOL)?

            Round and round in circles we go, bogged down in your pedantics and semantics, simply because of your unwillingness to comprehend what people are conveying to you and/or your refusal to accept any other viewpoint but Richard's :/

            It's obviously all about you Richard.

            Regardless of projections, estimations and analysis from people who are extremely knowledgable and experienced in the comms field (no not the dreaded Labor polies you despise so Richard, Quigley & Co)... nontheless, Richard knows better than them all, the NBN will fail.

            It's obviously all about you Richard.

            As someone who claims to be a financial guru who has delivered IT projects for 20 years (ha)... did you ever use estimators or financial projections?

            Yes! All projects are estimated to some degree and the NBN is no different. Now of course no one is suggesting that these estimations are written in blood and need to be exact, to the cent or that there won't be hiccups, seriously that's common sense (to all but the naysayers, who are devoid thereof). But these estimations and where, when and how the NBN will progress and thus succeed is there in b&w for all to see.

            Whereas your negativity is completely without basis. There is no sound logical reason to completely dismiss these projections, as a proximity of what will occur. The only reasoning I can imagine for bluntly refusing to consider the esimations is blind political ideology.

            It's obviously all about you Richard.

            AGAIN... as I agreed before (perhaps you were on holiday...sigh) of course all media is not biased all of the time...they do make mistakes! So wow what a revelation Richard.

            However, the Tele was found guilty of "intentionally misleading on 3 occasions in relation to the NBN"... how hard is that to understand and accept? No they don't do it all of the time, but these were no ordinary mistakes either... "intentionally mislead three times". But no, again we go around in circles because if Richard were to admit to such facts, it may be perceived as a chink or an admission that the media is always against the NBN...so pleeeeaaase!

            It's obviously all about you Richard.

            Yes my views are biased (I am for the NBN)... once again wow... what a revelation. But as usual your comprehension skills need tweaking. The point I was making is, that unlike some who obviously do... I have no political bias. I support Labor's NBN and I also support policies from the Coalition, as I clearly outlined.

            It's obviously all about you Richard.

            You will support your claims (unless, on leave or "you decide not too"...ROFL how lovely).

            It's obviously all about you Richard.
            RS-ef540
          • Another great post Alex. Speaking for myself the NBN is basically one of the few labor policies I am in favor of. I often wonder since it seems most against the NBN are against it for political reasons if there are any that have logical reasons to oppose it in the same way we favor it...

            Perhaps richard here (since Alex has outlined which labor and coalition policies he is for and against) could take this opportunity to do the same and clear the air and tell us which labor and coalition policies he is for and against too.
            Hubert Cumberdale
          • patting each other on the back, nice touch

            "Round and round in circles we go, bogged down in your pedantics and semantics, simply because of your unwillingness to comprehend what people are conveying to you and/or your refusal to accept any other viewpoint but Richard's"

            It is not pedantic to point out the massive errors in your arguements. I can only read what you write, I don't know what is in your mind.

            I accept you have an position re NBN different to mine. You've been the one shouting to deny my voice, dismissing alternate positions in the media, labelling everyone else as biased.

            Again the Tele ruling, you appear obsessed with it. I've never referred to the article in question. One article doesn't invalidate every article in all News Ltd and Fairfax papers!

            Is your position now you don't have political bias, but I do presumably becuase I'm not for the NBN? Do you realise how silly this sounds?

            I've worked on a number of orporate plans, I suspect you haven't. The govt needed a "commerical return" to keep the money off-budget, they se this as bond rate +3% (ridiculously low figure given the risk), then surprise the return is 7%!

            I predicted the numbers in the first plan would be exagerated before the release of their updated plan, I was right, the experts wrong - how was this possible? ;-)

            I've seen that many of these govt projects fail resulting is massive losses to taxpayers it is easy to pick the duds; the history of the $4.7b NBN to todays $50+b is example you'll use for the rest of your live.

            Off the top of my head I'm against the following Liberal policies; parental leave scheme, art funding, renewable energy targets, direct action carbon scheme, industry support (eg cars), school chaplains program, constitution preamble recognising indigenous people, company tax rate cuts, water buyback. I sure there's more but i cant think of them at the moment.
            Richard Flude
          • Bingo...

            As I suggested politics is your motive...

            However it is now obvious that even the far right Tony Abbott is way to 'liberal' for you Richard...

            :-(
            RS-ef540
          • I declared myself a libertarian months ago, try and keep up

            Are you just discovering that those in favour of limited government and individual freedoms would be opposed to big govt projects and govt intrusions? My beliefs define my politics, not the other way round (as is often the case of the Left).

            Interestingly now I've gone from Liberal party supporter (even Turnbull himself) to obviously not one. Makes your previous attacks look pretty ridiculous now doesn't it.
            Richard Flude
          • And A G A I N...

            Richard you are clutching at straws and getting all flustered, because your baseless comments have been torn apart by so many, you are now all confused...

            As such, after a giggle I was going to leave it there but then though, why?

            So let's answer your dog chasing his own tail points YET AGAIN...

            "It is not pedantic to point out the massive errors in your arguments. I can only read what you write, I don't know what is in your mind."

            * But Richard, you haven't done so whatsoever! So I find it strangely naive and/or particularly presumptuous of you, that you could even dream you have, let alone actually saying so! All you have said is, the NBN will fail, because, trust me, I know!

            How compelling :/

            "I accept you have a position re NBN different to mine. You've been the one shouting to deny my voice, dismissing alternate positions in the media, labelling everyone else as biased."

            * I haven't been shouting to deny your voice at all, so please stop making yourself out to be the poor innocent victim here, as it's (like straw man and ad hominem) wearing thin.

            In fact rather hypocritical (like when you sobbed personal attack then labelled me a troll... priceless) for you to suggest I'm screaming to deny your voice, when I am doing nothing different to what you are doing, corresponding vi the ZDNet forum? So using your logic, stop trying to deny MY voice Richard...sigh.

            What it is, is that I am simply trying to explain to you that I believe the evidence at hand from NBNCo has credence. As opposed to Richard says or just because, which does not.

            "Again the Tele ruling, you appear obsessed with it. I've never referred to the article in question. One article doesn't invalidate every article in all News Ltd and Fairfax papers"!

            * Of course you didn't refer to it, I referred to it such is my right... (stop trying to deny my voice again Richard ;)

            It's not being obsessed bringing such evidence to the table, doing this is part of forum ettiquette (yes those horrible facts tend to blow a huge hole in the poor old anti-NBN case though, eh?). Again read my lips... it doesn't always occur, but this proves there was on three occasions, intentionally misleading media reports, thus entirely discrediting your claims.

            You claimed there isn't media bias, just mistakes, correct them and move on...didn't you? Well imo, anyone who believes this is delusional or juvenile;)

            The only obsession here, is your absolute denial in accepting the "fact" (yes fact, this isn't my opinion vs. your's, this is fact, because it occurred).

            Q. Was the Tele found guilty of three intentionally misleading stories relating to the NBN...Richard? Yes or No!

            "Is your position now you don't have political bias, but I do presumably because I'm not for the NBN? Do you realise how silly this sounds?"

            * There is nothing silly about it, although having witnessed your complete lack of understanding, nothing now surprises me. What I am demonstrating to everyone (but one...sigh) is that my agenda here is not political. I do not support the NBN because of some submissive party loyalty or strange cult ideology. The fact that your entire argument is NBN is no good and will fail because market driven is the only way... shows you are unable to put your ideological bias aside to measure the NBN fairly... which is both sad and pitiful, for one who claims to be intelligent...

            "I've worked on a number of corporate plans, I suspect you haven't. The govt needed a "commercial return" to keep the money off-budget, they se this as bond rate +3% (ridiculously low figure given the risk), then surprise the return is 7%!

            * Ah... you have worked on a number of Corp. Plans which is why you know they fail. Well good thing we have Mike Quigley in charge and not Richard Flude then, isn't it ;)

            "I predicted the numbers in the first plan would be exaggerated before the release of their updated plan, I was right, the experts wrong - how was this possible? ;-)"

            * I said before (maybe listen even just once)... not one rational person expects the NBN numbers to be written in blood. So seriously, anyone who suggests otherwise or suggests that they alone were the only ones who foresaw the Corp plan alterations (remember that 9 month Telstra delay... rolls eyes, oh no you just see the delays, not the causes, that's right), is juvenile, delusional and pretentious, imo.

            "I've seen that many of these govt projects fail resulting is massive losses to taxpayers it is easy to pick the duds; the history of the $4.7b NBN to today's $50+b is example you'll use for the rest of your live."

            * But government projects are normally not intended to make a return, they are non earning services or infrastructure. So no you haven't seen many of "these" type of government projects at all. Plus we all know why the original RFP was not given the go ahead... but like the Corp plan delays, the reasons are of no consequence to those such as you Richard, because it doesn't suit the agenda to weigh why, into the equation. BTW, the outcome is vastly superior to the original anyway, so great :)

            Off the top of my head I'm against the following Liberal policies; parental leave scheme, art funding, renewable energy targets, direct action carbon scheme, industry support (e.g. cars), school chaplains program, constitution preamble recognising indigenous people, company tax rate cuts, water buyback. I sure there's more but i cant think of them at the moment.

            * Refer to my previous comment.
            RS-ef540