NBN a 'repugnant monopoly': Turnbull

NBN a 'repugnant monopoly': Turnbull

Summary: In a fiery debate between Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull on ABC's Lateline last night, the Opposition spokesperson labeled the National Broadband Network (NBN) as a "repugnant" re-nationalised version of Telecom.


In a fiery debate between Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull on ABC's Lateline last night, the Opposition spokesperson labelled the National Broadband Network (NBN) as a "repugnant" re-nationalised version of Telecom.


(Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

"This monopoly is so repugnant to the provisions, the competition laws of the Trade Practices Act it could never get approved [by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission], so Senator Conroy has to pass special legislation to effectively take it out of the competition laws in the Trade Practices Act," Turnbull said, reiterating his calls for a cost-benefit analysis for the project. "This is a remarkable act of government — you know, of direct government intervention."

In the course of the debate, Conroy revealed that the government plans to announce in the near future where the project will have rolled out in three years time.

"We're about to receive in the next few weeks that sort of information from National Broadband Network, and I'm sure there's a whole range of information that we'll be making available very, very shortly on some of these key questions and we'll be very, very happy to put it out into the public domain," Conroy said.

If the Opposition wins the next election and the roll-out of the NBN is halted, Conroy said it would lead to disparity of access to broadband across Australia, and higher prices for those already connected to the network.

"The entire business model collapses. All of the packages, all of the speeds, the download limits, the prices would collapse if the Opposition won government and stopped and froze the project."

Turnbull said that should the Coalition win the next election, it would assess what infrastructure has been put in place before deciding what would be done with it.

"Whatever has been built, if we come into government, we will obviously have to make the very best possible use of it."

Turnbull argued that the "build it and they will come" approach to the NBN was a "recipe for losing tens of billions of dollars" when many Australians already had access to ADSL2+ internet connections. A point that the communications minister rejected.

"Only 500 of 5000 exchanges are ADSL2+ enabled," he said. "Malcolm's fantasy from Potts Point where he thinks, 'Well I can get everything I need. I can get everything, all the speeds I want.' He is living in a fantasy world about the state of broadband in this country and the state of broadband particularly in metropolitan Australia."

The NBN yesterday also came under fire from the world's richest man, Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, who said the Australian public was paying too much for the $43 billion project.

"It's too much money," he said at the Forbes Globes CEO Conference in Sydney.

"It's just not necessary to spend so much money."

AAP contributed to this article

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.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Turnbull is being very sensible with his comments, those being assess what has been done to make best use and the like. When the Coalition returns to its rightful place as the government progress will be seen.
    Blank Look
  • Money money money.
    It's all they care about.
    Yet they fail to mention that one single state; NSW is going to outspend the NBN in the next 10 years on purely roads. 50.2bn is planned and budgeted.

    Personally I'm glad that roads are a monopoly. I'm glad that nearly all utilitarian style networks are a monopoly.
    What is repugnant is that Telstra is a monopoly. A for profit, vertically integrated carrier that competes with its wholesale customers.

    Turnbull has never addressed this issue. He has never addressed the disparity of services throughout the nation, nor has he offered a credible solution.
    But why would he care?
    He has 100mbit to his house already. Obviously there's no problem with internet access or speeds in this country.
    If his multimillion dollar house can get it, surely everyone already can - right?
  • Wow, the Vaucluse cowboy is really losing it, his floundering in the quicksand Abbott plonked him in is getting embarrasing now, being smashed in a debate by one of the worst communicators in recent history is surely a low water mark. $4,000 a head comes from where Mal? Hmm? Or 5K or 7K? Oh well, back to the 43 bill eh? He might be a scumbag but Tony knows how to kneecap a pretender for his throne of thorns.

    @ Visionary: Were you watching a parallel universe version of the debate? Seems the rest of the antipodes must have seen the one where Conroy won a debate for the first time outside of the his Victorian branch latrines!
  • All Turnball was capable of saying was CBA CBA CBA $43bn $43bn $43bn.

    Liberals = cheap, wreckers.
    Labor = generous, builders.

    Many Australians DO NOT have access to ADSL2+ broadband! There are 1.2 million RIM's in Australia alone that limit you to ADSL1 speeds, then there is the fact you need to be within 2km of the exchange to get speeds surpassing ADSL1.

    Turnball might have a mansion with access to every technology, it does not mean everyone does...

    With that said, that Mexican fella got rich selling the second slowest broadband in the OECD, the third most expensive on average, second most expensive per megabit, and second worst for coverage.

    Do we want to take advice from someone who built such a shoddy system and charged a fortune for access?
  • Sorry Duideka, the poor tax payer is picking up the tab!
    Blank Look
  • Malcolm Turnbull was quoted as referring to the NBN (on more than one occasion) as the National Broadcasting Network...

    And he is the coalition's comms expert?
  • Because people stumble over words, make spelling mistakes on posts is not a reason to doubt intelligence. Judge them on what they have achieved compared to yourself.
    Blank Look
  • I highlight exactly what Turnbull said and you get all narky... LOL!

    Yes he has more money than me... good for him!

    But just what that ridiculous, trolling comment has to do with anything is anyone's guess!
  • Seems the coalition has started outsourcing it's online response team jobs to India, whoops I've said too much!

    btw that debate last night was a bloodbath, Turnbull was well and truly beaten by Conroy of all people! that's just sad, tough times ahead for the coalition it seems.
    Hubert Cumberdale
  • Poor show! please keep racist comments out of the debate
    Blank Look
  • it's because everything will go via the NBN, so people will be forced onto the NBN.

    Your phone, TV, payTV, net, radio etc will all go via the NBN.

    So if you don't pay for a NBN install/connection then you don't have access to anything but wireless or in conroys case you can have sat access instead as he doesn't like wireless access at all.
  • I think the Coalition should be given credit for being vastly superior to Labor in the art of politics.

    Seriously, the way they called upon their mates in media (as they did their mates in mining) to spread that off the cuff remark/opinion about the NBN, from Carlos, was nothing short of neck breaking.

    Last nights TV news and radio this morning, wow...nice job really.

    Labor on the other hand have "extensive research results" from the OECD, World Bank and the United Nations, giving their NBN the thumbs up and a detailed report (dare one say, plan) from McKinsey/KPMG also claiming the NBN shouldn't cost the taxpayer more than $26b...

    But yet Labor can't get the word to the people over months, anything like the coalition did within hours...and therefore Labor keep copping the no plan, waste of $43b white elephant...FUD!
  • Oh Carlos, you think we're paying too much for broadband, you should see what we pay for cocaine!
    a guy-aba21
  • The "tab" is $16.29 per person per month for the next ten years...but that's not counting ANY income from it. Even if we discount all of the direct income from usage fees, once the tax from the increased GDP is counted the NBN (like Telstra for the previous generation) will be a huge net gain.
  • The only way they'll stop it is to beat them at their own game. Liberals are screaming for a cost benefit analysis. If Labor truly believe they are on the right track, give it to them. Until they do, Liberals can point at every other project that has exceeded budget under labor and stay on the attack.
  • I bet our network would be a hell of a lot cheaper if the govt could get away with paying the workers AU$5/day too!
  • Ah yes WorkChoices... LOL!
  • We need to step back for a second from al the political rhetoric and innuendo.

    Question: will the NBN benefit regional australia? My answer, yes. Will that flow on and give regional australia some growth opportunities and allow that flow to benefit all Australia? My answer, yes. Will communications links for medical and eduactional services benefit? My answer yes.

    For all the carry on about cost-benfites analysis, I have a sneaking suspicion that the focus will be on the cost, while the benfits aspect will be lost in mists of time.

    Did anyone ask for cost benefits analysis on the Snowy Mountains Scheme?