Will NBN build stop until govt chaos over?

Will NBN build stop until govt chaos over?

Summary: The National Broadband Network Company would not confirm this morning whether it will continue to roll out optic fibre around the nation while Australia's Parliament attempts to resolve whether the Coalition or Labor will form government.


The National Broadband Network Company would not confirm this morning whether it will continue to roll out optic fibre around the nation while Australia's Parliament attempts to resolve whether the Coalition or Labor will form government.

Yesterday's election resulted in a hung parliament, with neither Labor nor the Coalition able to form government immediately. The situation could take up to a week to resolve according to some commentators.

Yet NBN Co this morning refused to confirm or deny whether it will continue to follow Labor's NBN policy by rolling out fibre around Australia this week.

NBN Co has been rolling out fibre to a number of early stage release sites around Australia, with some sites, such as Townsville, having received significant political attention during the campaign. However, the Coalition has pledged to cancel the NBN roll-out if it wins government.

Katherine Sainty, a communications and media lawyer and director of Sainty Law, said that it was appropriate for NBN Co not to comment due to the company's wholly government-owned nature.

The lawyer said she would expect NBN Co not to enter into any new significant arrangements such as putting new contracts out to tender until the parliamentary chaos was resolved, as the company would be more or less in a caretaker mode.

However, she said that because of its nature as a commercial company, she would expect it to continue to deliver on its legal obligations, such as arrangements with contractors to roll out the early stage release sites.

The players

None of the politicians who take major roles in shaping Australia's telecommunications industry lost their seats last night. According to the ABC's election site, with 72.21 per cent of Victoria's Senate vote counted, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Industry Minister Kim Carr were easily returned to Parliament.

Shadow Communications Minister Tony Smith looks set to survive a 1.6 per cent swing to the ALP in his seat of Casey, and it's a similar case for Finance Spokesperson Andrew Robb in Goldstein, Paul Fletcher in Bradfield and Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth. Greens Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam wasn't up for election in the Senate due to the upper house's longer term, but the Greens did win the balance of power in the Senate, and Labor Senator Kate Lundy was also returned.

The future

The future of the National Broadband Network is still in doubt at the moment, depending on whether either the Coalition or Labor can form government with support from the independents.

Independent Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott made it very clear that telecommunications was on his agenda. He mentioned on the ABC's election coverage last night that mobile phone coverage was one problem in his electorate, noting that you didn't "have to be Einstein" to work out it was an issue.

Later on, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young commented that Oakeshott had clearly said that he wanted to improve telecommunications.

"Have we got a plan for him," quipped Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith replied, apparently referring to the NBN policy.

Independent North Queensland MP Bob Katter has refused to say if he'll back Labor or the coalition to form government, but said that he and fellow independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor should vote as a block to decide the nation's political future. He said he expected to meet with them within the next two days.

Katter said that improving broadband infrastructure was high on his agenda.

"A privatised broadband, I mean, please, don't even talk about it, privatised Telstra has been absolutely disastrous for rural Australia," he said.

A possible fourth independent, former Greens candidate Andrew Wilkie, along with Melbourne Greens candidate Adam Bandt, are expected to side with Labor.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Government AU

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  • The interactive map on what people voted where is quite interesting.. http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2010/map/

    In general the rural people have voted the Coalition, with regional seats in Qld changing from Labor. The Labor voters tend to sit around the major populous areas on the east coast where it's a fair bet that most would have access to a good quaility internet connection right now.

    Is this an indication that people in rural and regional Australia are putting the NBN lower on their list of priorities when it comes to other things in the election?
  • Is the Saturday vote a mandate for the Labor NBN build? - definitely not, the Coalition policy has just received as equal a mandate for their Communications policy, even more so if you factor in the anti-Labor swing that lead to the hung Parliament.

    I assume the NBN Co will cynically announce that the independent electorates have 'magically' gone to Priority 1 on the rollout list.
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but let's say the Coalition gets in. I can't see how that will stop the NBN.
    The senate has the greens with the balance of power, so if any plans was brought before the senate to scrap it, Labor would block it, the greens have said they are for the NBN (except they don't want it to be sold off) so they'll most likely block it. So what can the Coalition do to stop it?
  • Remember that much of the anti-Labor swing was towards the Greens, which also support the NBN but oppose the filter. So the NBN did get a majority (albeit a slim one) in terms of primary votes. Certainly, it would have been a major factor in Tasmania's Labor swing.

    You are right, however, when you say there was not a clear mandate either way. But Abbott had the greater burden as he was arguing for a change to the current circumstances. Can we read the election result as supporting the argument that he succeeded in doing that?
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but did the NBN Co even go through the House of Reps and Senate? If not, then I can't see anything stopping the Coalition. But I'm hoping that it will never come to that, my area is in the 2nd trail sites. Even my electorate swung to Labor.
  • Well you are right about trying to determine reasons why electorates voted and what the swings either way actually mean, you can be assured of one thing though the reasons for a swing can be for whatever agenda you are trying to push, because no one will actually know, you can say anything you like was the 'reason'.

    The point I am trying to make is that the NBN rollout was never mandated by the voters, it came in after the last election which was originally for a Labor private/public partnership FTTN tender.

    A hung Parliament is not a mandate for either policy, even if you try to insinuate the NBN factor helped the Green vote, I feel the Green vote was all about a total disregard 'head-in-the-sand' attitude about Climate change from both the major parties.

    The first Green candidate to get into the Lower House in the seat of Melbourne was not about the NBN, it is the main CBD seat in that city already well serviced by a multitude of high speed broadband ISP's from main trunk exchanges.
  • The NBN rollout can be stopped by the Coalition if they gain power, remember Conroy stopped the Howard/Coonan OPEL deal that was already partly rolling and contracts had been signed when Labor won that election.

    This time it is bit different though with the hung Parliament and Abbott will be tap dancing hard to try and gain power, if that means breaking all promises re the NBN rollout he and Smith made before the election because that's what the independents want that's what he will do.
  • Again the biased mutterings of politicians and thier blind supporters… makes one question their logic.

    Tony Abbott says, the Australian people have spoken and have clearly said the government is no longer fit to govern. So by saying this, is he implying that he is? Of course he is, but...

    To those of us impartial, he perhaps has a legitimate point, to a degree. But going by the very same (his) logic, he conveniently ignores that the same people also said… the opposition too, aren’t fit to govern!

    Let’s face it, whenever there is a contest anywhere; it is the job of the challenger to oust the incumbent, which Mr. Abbott clearly has not done… YET anyway…!

    So until such time as he "is given a mandate to govern in his own right", he hasn’t won and the government haven’t lost and vice versa of course. So to say either has more of a mandate than the other is blind bias at its worst.

    But, by Abbott not being able to dethrone the incumbent, although not an ideal situation in general, to help us all make the necessary adjustments and keep disunity to a minimum, the existing government should be given the moral right to form a minority government, before the opposition, "IMHO", yes again IMHO. Had the boot been on the other foot and it a Coalition government reat assured this woulr again be my position.

    It is also paramount that the independents act independently and choose the best deal for the nation. If that's the Coalition well so be it, but if it's Labor ditto! As such with the Greens having a seat in the HoR's and holding the balance of power in the Senate, it must be taken into account that a minority Labor government would work more smoothly, with the Greens and this obviously, needs to be factored by the independents, if they are truly independent!

    Tony is also quick to mention that the Coalition received some 400,000 primary votes more than Labor. However as Tony would clearly know (and as pointed out and heralded as the best in the world, above) we do not recognise first past the post, we have the unique, two party preferred system! Using this as the rightful determiner, the last figures I saw, had Labor @ 50.67% to the Coalition’s 49.33%!

    Although in saying that, having more than 50% still didn't save Kim Beazley...LOL!