Full Spectrum: no pork in NBN plan

Coalition MPs this week are claiming NBN Co-targeted Labor electorates in Queensland as places to roll out the NBN, while neglecting neighbouring Liberal National electorates. But is that accurate?
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

analysis Coalition MPs this week are claiming NBN Co-targeted Labor electorates in Queensland as places to roll out the NBN, while neglecting neighbouring Liberal National electorates. But is that accurate?

This morning Liberal MPs Paul Fletcher and Andrew Laming claimed that the Labor Government was rolling out the NBN in the Brisbane electorates of Labor MPs Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan and Craig Emerson, but skipping a number of Liberal electorates in the area.


(Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

On the face of it, looking at NBN Co's roll-out map (above), it's clear that Rudd's, Swan's and Emerson's electorates are included in the three-year roll-out plan, although not "100 per cent" covered as had been claimed. We can also see that some Liberal electorates are indeed skipped, but that's not the entire picture.

In announcing the three-year roll-out plan last week, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that the plan covers 67 Labor seats, 61 Liberal or National seats and six crossbench seats. This means that Labor only got six more of its own electorates covered than the Liberals did.

Outside of Brisbane, in Queensland, Cairns is included in the fibre roll-out, which sits in Liberal Nationals MP Warren Entsch's electorate, and Mackay, which is part of Liberal Nationals MP George Christensen's electorate, will also be part of the plan.

Looking more broadly at the national map, Mosman, in Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's electorate, is covered by the plan, as is Artarmon and Crows Nest in Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey's electorate. Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull gets a good portion of his electorate covered, with Bellevue Hill, Darling Point, Double Bay, Edgecliff, Point Piper and Woollahra included in the roll-out, and Shadow Minister for Regional Communications Luke Hartsuyker's electorate gets a look in at Coffs Harbour.

In Victoria, Doncaster in Liberal MP Kevin Andrews' electorate is included in the plan, as is Horsham in Nationals MP John Forrest's electorate. In Adelaide, suburbs in the electorates of Liberal MPs Andrew Southcott and Jamie Briggs are covered, and in Perth, parts of Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop's electorate in the suburb of Subiaco are included in the three-year plan.

This is just a small sample of some of the Liberal electorates that NBN Co has specified will be included over the course of the next three years under the current plan.

When NBN Co came to pick where it would roll-out over the next three years, the company said it had a number of factors to consider:

  • To follow the government's directive to roll out the network somewhat equally between metro and regional areas and to roll it out equally between all of the states and territories
  • To avoid ending up with a patchwork roll-out by building out from the existing five mainland trial sites in Kiama, Brunswick, Townsville, Armidale and Willunga
  • To complete the Tasmanian portion of the roll-out by 2015, where there are no coalition electorates
  • To build out the transit network for the fibre roll-out and to build out to the 121 points of interconnect for the NBN, which means building out to existing Telstra exchanges that NBN Co will re-use as part of the $11 billion Telstra deal
  • To meet the government's directive for NBN Co to roll out fibre to new housing estates, which means going to areas where there is likely to be a lot of housing developments, as well as building out from housing developments where NBN Co has already begun hooking up fibre services.

All this is rather technical, and cutting the network roll-out up based on electorate boundaries would seem even more complicated.

NBN Co earlier this week said that another factor the company had to consider was the best use of construction resources so that the company could achieve a continuous roll-out rather than stopping in one place and starting in another.

What do you think? Is the Coalition right in saying Labor is leaving out Liberal electorates from the three-year roll-out plan deliberately or do you believe NBN Co's methodology is what guided its hand?

Editorial standards