The new Coalition state government in Victoria has given its clearest signal yet that it will reject the 'opt-out' model for the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out in the state, meaning residents will need to actively choose to receive fibre when it hits their neighbourhood.
"It ought to be optional," new Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu told The Weekend Australian newspaper in relation to the issue, noting low take-up rates in early stage NBN roll-out areas.
The Premier's office has not yet responded to a request for comment on the issue seeking confirmation and the reasons why the new Premier prefers the opt-in model.
In October, then-shadow Victorian ICT Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips said a Victorian Liberal Government would work with the NBN and push to get the best deal from the initiative.
When the fibre-to-the-home plan was was announced in 2009, Ballieu went against the Federal Liberal Party to express support on the plan.
"High-speed broadband, infrastructure and jobs are critical to Victoria's future and we support the fast-tracking of infrastructure initiatives," Baillieu said at the time.
Last week Rich-Phillips was confirmed as the state's ICT Minister under Baillieu. However, he has not yet made a public statement about how the Coalition's technology policies espoused during the election will be implemented.
Making connection opt-in will mark a reversal of policy compared with the approach of the Brumby Labor Government in Victoria, which had supported an opt-out approach.
If Victoria does firm up with an opt-in NBN policy, it will immediately create a gulf between its roll-out and that in Tasmania's. In the Apple Isle, Labor Premier David Bartlett has introduced legislation to force an opt-out deployment.
The NSW Labor Government, tipped to lose the next state election in March 2011, has ruled out following the opt-out path. The NSW opposition is not yet known to have released a policy on the matter. The Queensland Government is also not known to have made a decision on the issue.