Computer Daily News may have blown it with its report suggesting former Optus exec turned MP Paul Fletcher could be in line to replace Tony Smith as the Coalition’s shadow communications minister.The buzz around Canberra for most of yesterday was that the job in fact has now been offered to former leader and onetime OzeMail (now iiNet) investor Malcolm Turnbull – who indeed appears to have been seeking it.
The Opposition discovered – far too late – that delivery of 21st century strength broadband was a much stronger issue in regional areas that it had imagined. Its widely ridiculed 12Mbps peak speed offering in many eyes cost Tony Abbott the election, if only by the narrowest of margins.
Paul Fletcher, it now seems, is being seen as too closely associated with that proposal. If Turnbull wants the communications shadow portfolio, it’s almost certainly his.
With Turnbull in the lower House and Labor’s current Comms and Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy in the Senate, the two will not often come into immediate debate. But Turnbull is seen as one of the few Coalition team able to take it up to Conroy via TV news and current affairs shows – and is also able to handle the fire from ABC-TV’s Kerry O’Brien, the commentator who was able to pour such withering scorn on Tony (“I’m no Bill Gates”) Abbott on the subject of the Coalition’s broadband policy.