NBN could not be privitised: Clive Palmer

NBN could not be privitised: Clive Palmer

Summary: Mining magnate and leader of the Palmer United Party, Clive Palmer, says that he does not see how government would get a return on any future NBN privatisation.


In the upcoming Australian election set for September 7, only three parties have candidates on the ballot in every electorate: Labor, Greens, and the newly formed Palmer United Party led by Clive Palmer.

On a wide-ranging Google Hangout hosted by The Sydney Morning Herald, Palmer was critical of the idea of any future privatisation of the NBN

"I don't think it is a good thing to privatise things that we have government for — the reason we have government is so that we can do certain things better together, than we can do them separately — such as health, schools and education, and defence," he said.

"As far as the NBN goes, I don't think you could privatise it, because of the amount of money that's been spent on it doesn't give a return to anybody, least of all the Australian taxpayer."

Palmer, who has financed plans to build the Titanic II and a dinosaur park packed with 160 animatronic dinosaurs, called on the government to be prudent in what it does, and to protect the money in the public purse.

"What's wrong with the NBN and the way that Labor approached it was that it was decided on a plane without any forethought, and it was done really to win votes, than to think it right through. It's been a bit of a disaster.

"If we are going to do large projects or things for the country, we need to take our time, properly plan it, properly cost it, and make sure it is something that is a considered decision. It doesn't mean we shouldn't do these things; it means that the manner in which we do them must be in the best interest."

The mining magnate, who is standing for the seat of Fairfax, said he isn't sure that the problems and delays encountered during the network's rollout are due to the technology used or its implementation, because he does not have access to the detailed information of the project.

The Palmer United Party is set to launch its policy manifesto on the weekend.

Palmer had previously been a life member and financial backer of the National Party.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Government AU


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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
  • Saying the bleeding obvious

    It's not worth a fraction of what's been spent.

    Time to acknowledge it in the budget by end the charade of keeping it off-budget; indefensible for either party this is never going to make a commercial return.

    Bring on the audits! MT I'd be happy to help out:-)
    Richard Flude
    • iiNet released some usage figures today

      "50% of users chosen a plan over 12Meg".

      Yeah, but that means that 50% of users chose a 12 Meg plan!

      It also means that some proportion of users also chose a reasonable slow plan, such as a 25 Meg plan. In the report/s that I read, iiNet provides no information as to what proportion of users chose a 100Meg plan; however, given the disguised nature of the media release one might assume that it is reasonably small.

      The last stat's that I read were something like 12-14% of capital had been spent, fibre had passed 2% of premises and only 0.5% of those are on an NBN plan. There is little doubt that the Labor NBN is technically superior to the Coalition plan, but this is irrelevant if :

      1. the Labor is too slow to roll-out and that is exactly what is happening,
      2. too few people choose to use it, and that also seems to be what is happening, and
      3. a large proportion of users choose a "slow" plan that could just as easily be satisfied by the Coalition plan.

      One aspect Labor trumps about the NBN is eHealth, but that is yet another Labor failure because the senior doctors involved are so damn frustrated that a few days ago they walked away from the project.
      • Supported by international experience

        Few users are looking at greater than 100mbps. They say so with their money;

        NBNCo pushing their yet to be released 1gbps service for political reason (disguise their irrelevance).

        Money has always been the issue; the inter-generational aspect of govts borrowing particularly revolting.

        When pointed out around a year ago the TPG NBN unlimited plan was no better than an available ADSL2+ plan I was attacked. Their ADSL2+ plan is even better today, their NBN plan still not offered (even if it wa would only be available to 150k users). Josh has not responded to my invitation to revist his article.

        This is insane; fanboys living in some imagined reality, abusing from a position of ignorance, dismissing all evidence of failure as biased yet unable to support their own position with anything that can't be ripped to pieces within seconds.

        Link to you iiNet quote would be appreciated.
        Richard Flude
        • Look how excited he gets when someone agrees

          He is like a dog with a new toy. He even dares to bring out irrelevant "international experience". About different people in a different country with a different gdp.
          • It isn't relevant that in other developed markets

            aren't seeing a big consumer demand for over 100mbps?

            Australians are so unique as consumers that such international experience is of no value?

            Strange international comparisons are used in corp plans don't you think?

            wmwtthg's post didn't get me excited, a pleasant change from the foul abuse of the uneducated and inexperienced.
            Richard Flude
          • We are

            Seeing quite a demand for 100mbps though. That includes me. Which i can get now, because a government decided to do what your beloved telcos would never do and do SOMETHING about our network.

            Of course you have the crystal ball that i don't and can see the exact user demands and we applications that we will want 20 years later. I keep forgetting that. so silly
        • LOL

          Have you realised it yet? Remember when you were younger and saw some old codger ranting about new fangled radio, TV, or some new technology?
          Well, that's now you :)
        • lol

          OfCom in UK says speeds are lower than 14.7Mbps AVERAGE.

          And only have risen 2.2Mbps per year since 2008!


          Enjoy your slow Broadband Speed, while costing $30 billion +.

          I'll be on Telstra cable.
    • NBN off-budget

      The reason the NBN is not in the budget is because it's not being funded by general revenue. It's funded by bond issues (ie good old public debt). When the NBN is finished it is forecast to generate revenue assuming people will use it, which they will if they want a phone and/or internet connection that's not mobile/wireless. Sooner or later the debt will repaid and the network will generate revenue for the taxpayer. The point is though, projects funded by issue of government bonds have never ever been "on-budget" because it's not our taxes that are paying for the NBN.
      Daniel Ruben
  • As a matter of interest considering the wording as presented

    I have sought clarification re what does that figure relate to


    A copy of my request

    "iiNet reported this week that it now has 20,000 customers on the National Broadband Network (NBN), with 12,000 on the fibre and 50 percent taking up services with download speeds faster than 12Mbps. Malone told journalists today that around 10 percent of the fibre customers are on the 100Mbps plan.'

    That 50%, is it of the 20,000, or the 12,000.
    I ask this because of the specific wording
    "that around 10 percent of the fibre customers are on the 100Mbps plan."

    It makes a huge difference
    A) 50% of those on fibre choosing better than 12 Mb translates to 50% choosing better than ADSL2+ (24/1 or 2), i.e 6,000 customers. 1,200 of who'm are choosing 100Mb

    B) 50% of total 20,000 customers when satellite and wireless (8,000 of) have been limited to 12Mb or less (NO Choice). That translates to 10,000 customers choosing better than ADSL2+ out of 12,000 on fibre. Once again as specified 1,200 of them on 100Mb.
    Translates to 83% choosing better than ADSL2+ when they have the opportunity to do so

    Could you please clarify Josh"

    Re the TPG aspect.
    a) it is ADSL with all the bandwidth and upload limits. This in reality limits the supposed unlimited factor. The same sleight of hand the US carriers such as AT&T use (in that link provided yesterday you failed to comprehend Richard - upping their FTTH to 24/3 Mb)
    Capped Data is an anathema in the US, so instead they limit speed - same end result of limiting data use). Why the NBN option with a REAL and stable 12/1 (TPG's - suggested speed for unlimited ) would actually consume far more data than the ADSL2+ option with the real world average being approx 6/.7Mb
    Abel Adamski
    • More of the same

      "in that link provided yesterday you failed to comprehend Richard - upping their FTTH to 24/3 Mb"

      I've not failed to comprehend the article; I've repeatedly asked so what? What is your point? Your response was for me to work it out (wtf?).

      Why do upload speeds limited the unlimited plans?

      What evidence do you have to support your TPG NBN data claims? The quote speed is to the NBN network, not Internet (contention an issue).

      Not that it matters; like NBNCo for most TPG's plan was nothing more than a thought-bubble; over $10b spent for amazingly little. AA countering yesterday with diabetic machines that would be better off with a $9 mobile data plan from Telstra (she'd even be able to stay with friends:-).
      Richard Flude
      • Clues

        "wtf" - read the above
        Upload speeds - nice deflection but irrelevant. It is the real world sustained download speeds and contention ratios that limit the data consumption with ADSL
        With FTTH NBN the limiting factors are other links and sites and contention
        Somewhere in my archives with a low importance is the TPG suggestion re an unlimited NBN plan, after all they do own Pipe Networks.
        An example in an article re diabetic testing , big deal, using technologhy designed for what is available, that article also spent several inches discussing the impact for remote medical for indigenous et. Optimum would entail True 2 way HD Video etc etc. The applications will expand to take advantage of the available capacity.

        For example a subject I have brought up several times. Take several minutes to watch the ACA item
        "Caught in an instant"

        Using 3Megapixel digital Video Cameras linked via the premises security system to real time HD monitoring on alarm allowing Police to actually catch the crim in the act with HD video evidence. With high upload speed several cameras can be streamed up simultaneously, increasing safety for the attending officers. Will increasingly be used in domestic situations.

        The potential applications are there and growing, just not worth investing time and money in them if the network is inadequate
        Abel Adamski
        • NBN does nothing about contention

          That's up to the RSPs. Their decisions impact sustained data flow; exactly the case with ADSL.

          Again video conferencing doesn't require NBN speeds. Why HD, why not super-duperD. It's about as relevant.

          CCTV has existed for decades. The ability to remotely monitor sites exists today. Bandwidth required for security montioring is very small, capable over existing networks today. We don't have the police looking into our houses because we find it creepy and totally unacceptable.

          Not one application you've listed, not even the Jetson ideas, has the capacity available in an all fibre FTTH. This is why they never produced a CBA; nothing comes close to generating the revenue to justify the expense over incremental improvement on today's existing infrastructure.

          "The potential applications are there and growing, just not worth investing time and money in them if the network is inadequate"

          6 years and 10s of billions have been wasted for roughly the same service as when they came to govt (150k able to order fibre, ). AA should be able to list thousands of success stories (billions of dollars spent). Not just here, you've the world to choose from. That you can't come up with one speaks volumes.
          Richard Flude
          • Dinosaur

            Yes, lets forget anything about the next decade or two. Lets pretend IT has just suddenly stagnated. Your career is near its end. About to retire an out of date old fossil, so how could IT continue to develop without your infinite shining wisdom.
            Just retire and stop getting in the road of progress for your own selfish reasons. You were washed out years ago.
          • And

            What upload bandwidth and capacity would it take for 2 or 3 streams of 3megapixel Video plus several thumbnail Videos.
            Did you actually bother to see the program and observe the massive difference in resolution and clarity, even in IR mode.

            So yes CCTV has been available for decades, I was installing and maintaining it 20 years ago when it was completely analogue, my home analogue converted to H264 digital recording delivers a blocky inadequate resolution product on playback even with 700 line WDR HiRes analogue cameras and that is a 2Mb data stream per camera.

            Believe it the new generation security systems incorporating HD Digital Video and 2 way audio are fantastic and will be in demand not only in business, but for many who now have monitored security systems. False alarms a thing of the past
            Abel Adamski
      • Brought harshly

        back to reality by a few facts. Not even many. Just a few.
  • Dream imploding

    "Given the scale and the grand ambition of the NBN project and one would expect NBN Co to be transparent and actively encourage Australians to participate in a process designed to transform the Australian telecom infrastructure landscape.

    Unfortunately, this process has been riddled with political divisiveness and the after commencing operation several years ago using a low key opaque approach, NBN Co appears to be moving further and further away from the transparency. Whether wilful or not, the continued opacity has ended up hurting the prospects of a Labor NBN securing its future."

    Read on for examples. Who could have foreseen this?;-)
    Richard Flude
    • I take it you did read my comment

      It would be imprudent to fail to take precautionary measures prior to the coalition Government, as they have stated they will encourage, in fact suggested that the taxpayer will subsidise Competitors to the NBN, who will of course Cherry Pick the easy to do high value areas - the pits and ducts the NBN has leased off Telstra - guess M.T plans to just allow access to all and sundry with Telstra remediation still being paid for by NBNCo to benefit competitors creaming the most profitable areas.
      It would be criminal stupidity for NBNCo to just give transparent access to their competitors to their plans, schedules etc etc
      Abel Adamski
    • Thanks for the link

      The "British Telecom in hot water" was pretty interesting and not too far from how I imagine Malcolm's plan would be (the NBN stuffs a stretch though, you'd need a tin-foil hat to think them changing the online roll-out map to load faster is showing something "evil").
  • What about the upload speeds?

    The upload speeds on copper proposed by MT would be a significant bottleneck. FTTP allows for fast downloads and uploads.

    Try to surf the internet with your current connection while uploading a large video to Youtube if you really want to see the importance of upload speeds.