Labor’s high-speed, high cost plan for the National Broadband Network turns out to have been an the election winner for Julia Gillard and the Australian Labor Party after Independent Tony Windsor threw in his support yesterday describing broadband as the most critical issue in his decision to support Labo
Labor’s high-speed, high cost plan for the National Broadband Network turns out to have been an the election winner for Julia Gillard and the Australian Labor Party after Independent Tony Windsor threw in his support yesterday describing broadband as the most critical issue in his decision to support Labor.
“There’s an enormous opportunity for regional Australia to engage with the infrastructure of this century,” he said at a press conference with fellow amigo Rob Oakeshott at which they announced their support for Labor.
“To pass up that opportunity and miss the opportunity for millions of country Australian . . . I thought it too good an opportunity to miss.
“My advisers – and relating to broadband technology there are a number of them – suggest ‘You do it once, you do it right – and you do it in fibre.”
Oakeshott – who is mulling over the offer of a ministerial post – also strongly supported Labor’s broadband plan rather than the Opposition’s $6 billion 12Mbps patchwork proposal.
Bingo! a broadband roll-in
He said broadband and climate change, along with what he described as a crisis in regional education, had been major issues in the independents’ decision. He also pointed to the need for computers in regional schools – part of a program the Coalition had promised to scrap.
The broadband rollout in regional areas will be accelerated under a policy hammered out between the independents and the government, and Julia Gillard has also pledged equity in wholesale pricing on the NBN for country areas.
Said an exuberant Oakeshott: “It’s roll-in, not roll-out. Priority for regional areas – it’s a broadband roll-in now. Bingo!”
Windsor and Oakeshott also won a $9.9 billion deal for regional spending, covering health and hospitals initiatives, education and further infrastructure.
Julia Gillard in her press conference said: “What will happen with broadband is that the wholesale price [across Australia] will be the same. So whether you’re on broadband in Tamworth or in CBD Sydney, the wholesale price will be the same. To equalise the cost of communications across Australia – what a transformation!”
A disappointed Opposition Leader Tony Abbott remained unconvinced, though he did concede some changes in the Coalition’s broadband policy would be considered. “My strong suspicion is that the NBN will be school halls on steroids,” he said, at a media conference. “I think this is going to be an absolute minefield of waste and incompetence.”