Turnbull 'virtually invented the internet' in Australia: Abbott

Turnbull 'virtually invented the internet' in Australia: Abbott

Summary: Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott has claimed that Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull invented the internet in Australia.


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.

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Someone was complaining about me describing them as the coalition clowns the other day however it seems Abbott decided to embrace the label long ago;-)
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • I have to agree on that point

      a strange claim to make.
      Knowledge Expert
      • Strange indeed...

        To be fair, personally like Conroy's red undies and TA's pervious **** happens, I think this was another off the cuff remark?

        But who knows it may have been calculated or just uneducated... strange nonetheless :/
  • Techhead Tony

    Hot on the heels of the '25mb/sec is enough for everybody' gem, apparently our mate Malcolm (virtually) invented the internet. That's why he's so good at picking upgrades for it.

    Such hyperbole looks really good when you put it next to Malcolm's 'Honestly is the best policy' carry-on from last September. Seems the libs have really taken that to heart.
    • I've survived for ages on less than 5MB/sec..

      I'd kill for 25+/sec I can't see needing more than that any time soon.. especially because in Australia we only get 50gig or less on most plans.. Imagine if you lived next door to the phone exchange, that is how fast your ADSL will be on FTTN... that is more than 5 times what I have now. but with 1gig I'd be able to blow my download allowance in minutes.. not much good after I've been scaled back to 64k.

      25MB/sec is a good holding point.. good enough.. and LTA-A and next gen standards capable of much higher speeds don't happen fast enough, then by all means once we are back in the black lets continue the FTTH rollout.. considering how slowly that is going anyway, it's likely the time frame will be roughly the same anyway. I am writing this on a 1 gig connected machine at work. (plugged into a 10g backbone) and I can't say it makes much difference really as the bottleneck is nearly always at the other end.

      If they want to impress me, find a way to make unlimited plans really work in Australia.

      As for broadband.. I'd like to see the government work with all three of our big telcos to get LTE-A (Advanced LTE) rolled out Australia wide.. I'd much prefer 150/300mb/sec wirelessly than 1gig only in my house.
      • you goota be

        trolling. Right?
        otherwise you must have a cyber death wish, they will come from under the bridge to get you!!!!!!!!
        Knowledge Expert
      • What about the next generation?

        I'd be happy with 25Mbps too if it were downlink and uplink ;-) but what about my children, and my grandchildren. What about them? Do you care?

        With LTE-A, do you realise much of the speed gains are because it uses more spectrum and usable spectrum is finite? It is also a shared medium, and the bottleneck quickly becomes the over the air part, hence why fibre will always deliver better speeds.

        So please drop the whole fixed vs wireless thing. It's like saying air freight will replace ship/land freight. They are both very important and will evolve and neither will replace the other.
      • Joking right?

        I survived on a Commodore 64, I remember having a huge 8 meg of RAM, now I work in the development of home based Device-based Data (DBD) Collection and Management. This technology relies on high speed broadband. As has been pointed out for every extra year that 1% of the aged population can stay in their own homes the Govt save $1bil. Improving detection times of stroke, identifying onset of dementia and a thousand other possibilities go out the window. Add to this the opportunity for technology innovation that will be facilitated by high speed broad to the premises and facing the fact that if we do it wrong we'll have to do it twice. Just for the record take a look at the innovations in agriculture that are facilitated by decent broadband and think how good horses and carts were at moving stuff around. Your solution is to aim for mediocrity that will cost more in the long run while denying so much in the meantime. Malcolm knows the benefits of FTP he doesn't believe what he's selling, if anyone in the coalition invented anything it is Abbott who invented striving to be average.
      • foresight

        Try thinking ahead 15 years, like you say it will take many years to roll out the current plan but put it off now and we will have to wait 20 more for it to happen you will probably be dead by then and so might I
        Desmond Sherlock
      • 50Gig or less?

        @ frankieh
        May I introduce you to Google?
        A quick search will soon reveal a multitude of plans offering anything up to unlimited data allowances.
        I'm also quite certain that if you could afford to pay for your 50 Gig allowance using wireless then switching/upgrading from your existing ISP is not beyond your means & possibly beats your preferred option that would require a wireless tower on every street corner.

        As for "25MB/sec is a good holding point"; ever checked the upload speed limits on FTTN or considered using the cloud for backups? Good Luck!
  • It was a joke, let's move onto serious policy issues here

    I think in all fairness, this was a joke and an off-the-cuff comment. I thought it was quite funny. Let's focus on the bigger issues here.

    My bigger concern is if Abbot thinks the NBN is just about the deliver of the "internet". Hence relating what Turnbull did with the NBN. This is where perhaps he doesn't get it. It's a network and can deliver VPNs, private connections between businesses, TV, telephony, and connections to "the internet,".
  • libs are so entertaining!

    and so is Frankieh above!
  • Turnbull 'virtually invented the internet' in Australia

    This was just a figure of speech meaning that he has been been involved in the Internet since it started in this country.
    Shirl in Sydney
    • Its a joke

      Like the oft quoted "Al Gore invented the internet"
  • More nonsense from someone adept at distorting the facts.

    As per usual, Mt Abbott seems to have trouble expressing simple ideas clearly, or perhaps again, he is distorting the facts as appears to be his habit. Perhaps he's so rattled that Rudd is back he can't think straight.

    No one invented the internet in Australia. It had already been invented. A new thing is only invented once. Thereafter it is adopted.

    Rather telling.
  • Only a monkey would say that

    brought to Australia!
  • I remember that.

    Dialing in to OzEmail with IPX and using Gopher.
    Oh wait then some american came out with Mosaic.
    • Glad someone here remembers how early Malcolm was in

      He might not have invented it but he was certainly on the bleeding edge of innovation.

      Veronica, Jughead and all that... the joys of Gopherspace.
      Andy Grace
      • Just a merchant banker

        Turnbull was a merchant banker who bought into Ozemail 2 years after its founding. He negotiated the deal with Worldcom that made him $40M. He was an able merchant banker with an eye for a good investment, but that doesn't make him an Internet pioneer on the bleeding edge of technology.
      • Malcolm's Involvements.

        As as banker he only invested in & profited from an early internet start-up in Oz. Much like he's still doing now in placing his Money in 3 overseas country's FTTP projects while his Mouth derides the present FTTP roll-out in Oz.
        Hypocrisy at it's best.