Coalition policy leaked

The Coalition's policy points have been leaked. Are there any surprises in broadband policy?
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Online news outlet Crikey today leaked an extensive Coalition policy document that, from what I understand, has been given to new Coalition candidates to prep them on where the Coalition stands on a variety of areas, like health, education and even the National Broadband Network (NBN). Plus, exactly how they think the Labor government has failed in these areas.

You can read the 137-page "Speaker notes" document here (PDF), but if you're looking specifically for information about what the Coalition has planned for the NBN, pages 46 to 51 deal with the broadband policy.

There's nothing too surprising there, and it's pretty consistent with what Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said before. Labor failed to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, the NBN will cost $50 billion, NBN Co avoids scrutiny, money is being wasted on advertising the NBN and the NBN has been plagued by delays. For the Coalition's own policy, the document is pretty light on detail.

"If elected, the Coalition will remove barriers to competition between different technologies, and pursue policies which deliver affordable super-fast broadband to all Australians sooner and at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers of Labor's reckless NBN."

The document states that a Coalition government will conduct a cost-benefit analysis first, then use whatever technology is appropriate and cost effective, utilising existing technology, where possible, to deliver broadband sooner and cheaper in a way that promotes competition in the telecommunications industry. The Coalition will also provide subsidies to rural and regional areas, to make broadband prices comparable to metropolitan Australia.

All the stuff we've heard before.

The document also slams the Labor government's attempts to establish a mandatory internet filtering scheme in Australia, while at the same time abandoning subsidies for filtering software for parents. The Coalition reaffirms in the document that it has no intention of implementing an internet filter.

"The Coalition did not implement a mandatory ISP level filter in government, because it could not be shown to be workable or effective, offered a false sense of security to parents and would impact on internet speeds. For these reasons, other democratic nations have also not implemented a mandatory filter."

Overall, there's nothing too shocking in the document, so it's not really all that surprising that it was leaked. Turnbull is playing his cards close to his chest and has maintained that the Coalition will outline a more fleshed out broadband policy closer to the 2013 election. I'm just hoping it happens sooner, rather than later, and we don't get a repeat of the 2010 election, where the policy was announced mere days before Australians went to the voting booths.

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