Full Spectrum: no pork in NBN plan

Full Spectrum: no pork in NBN plan

Summary: Coalition MPs this week are claiming NBN Co-targeted Labor electorates in Queensland as places to roll out the NBN, while neglecting neighbouring Liberal National electorates. But is that accurate?


analysis Coalition MPs this week are claiming NBN Co-targeted Labor electorates in Queensland as places to roll out the NBN, while neglecting neighbouring Liberal National electorates. But is that accurate?

This morning Liberal MPs Paul Fletcher and Andrew Laming claimed that the Labor Government was rolling out the NBN in the Brisbane electorates of Labor MPs Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan and Craig Emerson, but skipping a number of Liberal electorates in the area.

(Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

On the face of it, looking at NBN Co's roll-out map (above), it's clear that Rudd's, Swan's and Emerson's electorates are included in the three-year roll-out plan, although not "100 per cent" covered as had been claimed. We can also see that some Liberal electorates are indeed skipped, but that's not the entire picture.

In announcing the three-year roll-out plan last week, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that the plan covers 67 Labor seats, 61 Liberal or National seats and six crossbench seats. This means that Labor only got six more of its own electorates covered than the Liberals did.

Outside of Brisbane, in Queensland, Cairns is included in the fibre roll-out, which sits in Liberal Nationals MP Warren Entsch's electorate, and Mackay, which is part of Liberal Nationals MP George Christensen's electorate, will also be part of the plan.

Looking more broadly at the national map, Mosman, in Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's electorate, is covered by the plan, as is Artarmon and Crows Nest in Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey's electorate. Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull gets a good portion of his electorate covered, with Bellevue Hill, Darling Point, Double Bay, Edgecliff, Point Piper and Woollahra included in the roll-out, and Shadow Minister for Regional Communications Luke Hartsuyker's electorate gets a look in at Coffs Harbour.

In Victoria, Doncaster in Liberal MP Kevin Andrews' electorate is included in the plan, as is Horsham in Nationals MP John Forrest's electorate. In Adelaide, suburbs in the electorates of Liberal MPs Andrew Southcott and Jamie Briggs are covered, and in Perth, parts of Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop's electorate in the suburb of Subiaco are included in the three-year plan.

This is just a small sample of some of the Liberal electorates that NBN Co has specified will be included over the course of the next three years under the current plan.

When NBN Co came to pick where it would roll-out over the next three years, the company said it had a number of factors to consider:

  • To follow the government's directive to roll out the network somewhat equally between metro and regional areas and to roll it out equally between all of the states and territories
  • To avoid ending up with a patchwork roll-out by building out from the existing five mainland trial sites in Kiama, Brunswick, Townsville, Armidale and Willunga
  • To complete the Tasmanian portion of the roll-out by 2015, where there are no coalition electorates
  • To build out the transit network for the fibre roll-out and to build out to the 121 points of interconnect for the NBN, which means building out to existing Telstra exchanges that NBN Co will re-use as part of the $11 billion Telstra deal
  • To meet the government's directive for NBN Co to roll out fibre to new housing estates, which means going to areas where there is likely to be a lot of housing developments, as well as building out from housing developments where NBN Co has already begun hooking up fibre services.

All this is rather technical, and cutting the network roll-out up based on electorate boundaries would seem even more complicated.

NBN Co earlier this week said that another factor the company had to consider was the best use of construction resources so that the company could achieve a continuous roll-out rather than stopping in one place and starting in another.

What do you think? Is the Coalition right in saying Labor is leaving out Liberal electorates from the three-year roll-out plan deliberately or do you believe NBN Co's methodology is what guided its hand?

Topics: Government, Broadband, Government AU, NBN


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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  • I see that the seat of Longman wasn't mentioned - covering Caboolture, Biribie Island and out to Wamuran as mentioned in the NBN 3 year plan. This is currently in Liberal hands, so an announcement to include us could certainly be seen as political. Even more so given that the seat is marginal and held by Wyatt Roy, which will make for an interesting election.
    • I wasn't able to include all of the electorates in this but having a look now, Caboolture is definitely in the 3-year plan.

      I would think that you're right though, if Labor was making a game of it, targeting marginal Liberal electorates would be the game to play.
      Josh Taylor
      • Exactly. If this were a pork barrelling operation aimed at shoring up votes at the next election, then they are completely rubbish at it.

        The NBN rollout map, with its colourful splodges of orange, purple and green, is one giant Rorschach test - people see in it what they want to see.

        - More ALP electorates in Brisbane getting NBN than LNP ones! (well yes, there ARE actually more ALP electorates in Brisbane to begin with, so no surprise there)
        - My town was "promised" NBN fibre! (perhaps, but by whom? and in what timeframe?)
        - My state didn't get its fair share according to a metric of my selection! (sounds like my kids - "I'm 10 and he's 8, so I should get one quarter more cake than him!")
    • Almost week in week out The Australian, LNP and Coalition supporters come out and say something negative about the NBN. Now that some of their electorates are not included in the next rollout of NBN, they cry foul. You people want it all. Some say they don't need it and why should their monies be wasted on something they don't need. Well I pay taxes and I don't use all the roads the Commonwealth fund, but hey that's how the system works. VIC state government does not support the NBN and yet their communication minister is complaining they're not getting their fair share of the rollout. Why should they complain, if their man Tony Abbott gets in, he's going to stop the rollout anyway.
      Mark S-8ff5e
      • Well their electorates should be excluded because according to their elected representatives they don't want it. So where exactly is the problem.
        Are the Liberal Party saying that their electorate actually want the NBN and if so who exactly is the Liberal Party representing when they want to shut down the NBN, from the soounds of it obviously not those people who voted for them.
  • The Libs whinging about NBN roll out,read this By Josh Taylor, ZDNet.com.au on October 20th, 2011

  • If you drill down on the rollout out plan, they are actually following boundaries. The boundaries of the existing exchange areas.
    • How stupid are you? Why then are so many existing exchange areas ignored? The thruth is that yes, they follow existing exchange areas.... which are selectively chosen to benefit Labor.
      • Oh dear, another who already shows his political bias dictates his opinion.
        • Oh dear, the pro-NBN fanboi FUDster who's own bias blinds them from the obvious and who doesn't really have an intelligent opinion.
          • Oh Freddy, it is apparent that you aren’t even intelligent enough to realize your own hypocrisy.

            You call my comments FUD, yet sob because I “generically (not personally)” refer to anti-NBNers as promoting FUD?

  • Also wanted to add that today appears to be Opposite Day.

    We have the Fairfax papers running trollery: "NBN labelled a waste to set Labor back years - Labor's $36 billion national broadband network is shaping up to be a financial disaster that will set Labor's image back decades". (http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/nbn-labelled-a-waste-to-set-labor-back-years-20120404-1wd9l.html)

    But in the Herald Sun we have the following level-headed commentary: "Experts say the Coalition must stomach the NBN - The National Broadband Network is now so far advanced that the Coalition will have little option but to push ahead with the project if it wins office next year, industry experts say." (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/business/experts-say-the-coalition-must-stomach-the-nbn/story-fn7j19iv-1226319009101)

    Oy. It's making my head spin.
    • Gwyn, seems there's a new boy (economics correspondent) on the block...


      • Peter Martin? He's been sour on the NBN for ages now. No objection's too petty for him, no hairsplitting argument too obtuse to try to bring against it.

        I've never seen anything he's written which gives the faintest impression that he understands the project as a whole. It doesn't fit within his narrow vision, so out it all goes.

        There's one sting in the tail of the Percy Allan findings:

        "The institute asked the management consultants Howard Partners to examine 18 high-profile federal projects for the quality of decision-making that brought them about. It found 10 deficient - the alcopops tax, Building the Education Revolution, the broadband network, the Darwin to Alice Springs railway, FuelWatch, the green car innovation fund, the green loans program, the home insulation scheme, Grocery Watch and the set-top boxes for pensioners program.

        Passing the test were the national disability insurance scheme, the minerals resource rent tax and the emissions trading scheme." !!!!

        Not sure we'll be hearing the Libs jump onto that one soon!
        • Indeed Gwyn, gotta ove conservative bean counters who factor nothing but raw dollars into every equation...LOL!
    • @Gwyntaglaw - What hopelessly blind bias. You read something you don't like and its "trollery" and something you do and its "level headed".

      Let's just take a look at who these "experts are"...... Oh! They are Commonwealth Bank bean counters no less! I was expecting technology experts. Well gee, of course the bank bean counters will raise such FUD, since its the banks who are making all the money from the NBN.... the money must come from somewhere drongo..... and guess who is paying the interest?
      • FUD? "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
  • "Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull gets a good portion of his electorate covered..."

    What? Did I miss something? Who's in government?
    • Eep. I'm missing a "shadow" in there. Thanks for pointing it out, I've fixed it up.
      Josh Taylor
  • It's typical of the opposition to compain about a service they have done nothing but try to obstruct and run down purely for the sake of political gain.
    Why is it now they are complaining they are not getting the roll out in their area?
    Could it be they privately see the usefulness of this project yet publicly object to it for their own personal gains?
    I'm sick of people bashing the NBN... just get on with the roll out!