Business commentator Alan Kohler has predicted that the three leading Independent members in the newly elected lower house will be able to negotiate retention of the National Broadband Network -despite Coalition Leader Tony Abbott’s avowed intention to scrap it.
The three are scheduled to meet in Canberra today to discuss tactics for coming negotiations with Labor and the Coalition, neither of which has the numbers to form a majority government.
On the ABC’s Drum Web site yesterday, finance presenter and Business Spectator publisher, Kohler, speculated that coming negotiations by the Independents with both parties would see trade-offs all round.
“At a guess, I’d say that emissions trading and the mining tax will both go, but the NBN will stay. Tony Abbott’s expensive parental leave scheme probably goes,” said Kohler.
His prognostications came as leading Independent, Tony Windsor (NSW), declared his intention to fight for high-speed broadband for the bush.
“If there’s ever been one thing we need both sides of politics to agree on, [broadband] is it,” Windsor said on last night’s Q&A program on ABC-TV.
“There are some significant regional issues that have been ignored – health, aged care, some of the renewable energy issues – and a broadband network is one of those issues,” he said.
“We’ve got an opportunity in this Parliament to actually get it right and if we’re talking about the delivery of health services and education services and business services in the future, and talking about population of major cities in the future, this [broadband] is the key driver we’ve got to have.
“If we get fibre cable right, if we get the broadband system right, so there’s high-speed arrangements – not in every hamlet, we obviously can’t do that – it could revolutionise country living and solve some of the city [population] problems.
Windsor will be meeting in Canberra today with fellow Independents – and high-speed broadband supporters – Rob Oakshotte (NSW) and Bob Katter (Queensland). All have said stable government is their first priority.