Why I’m losing faith in Australian “Liberalism”, part 457


Two stories about the National Broadband Network in the media today. The one generating more outrage is the one singling out the most expensive connections (“The most expensive broadband connection in Australia cost the National Broadband Network $91,196 for a single home, figures released today show. That was the cost of the fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) link for one residence in Ravenswood, Tasmania. Tasmania had the second most expensive FTTP connection and the highest cost commercial link — $86,533 for a bowling club at Invermay.”) But bad as these cost outliers are, I’m much more concerned about the general as opposed to the specific problems of our State Broadband:

The national broadband network is losing money with each typical connection it makes and believes that unless it is protected from competition due to data delivered by ultrafast mobile broadband it will never make a profit.

The company’s concerns have been detailed by chief executive Bill Morrow in an exclusive interview ahead of a Four Corners report on Monday that it fears will suggest “the whole thing is a mess”.

That Labor, being obsessed as they are with “nation building” cash splashes, came up with this nicely sounding brain fart of an idea, I’m not surprised. This was, after all, the Rudd era; the time of “computers in schools”, “school halls”, pink batts, Grocery Watch and other inanities from the fertile mind of our former Psychopath-in-Chief (to borrow from another Labor great, Paul Keating, Rudd’s brain was like a bird’s nest – all shit and twigs). But that the Coalition, which in opposition – rightly – criticised the proposal, in government – under the Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull – tied its collective neck to this monumental millstone, which screams against every principle of economic liberalism and sound government, this I can neither fathom nor forgive.

And so now (thanks guys), we are all stuck either with a $50 billion dinosaur that’s fast becoming obsolete before it’s even finished and will keep losing (directly and indirectly) the taxpayers’ money hand over fist well into the bleak future, or – OR – the government will have to enact industrial protection to shield and maintain the dinosaur’s profits, shafting all the free competition, and bravely fighting against the steady and inevitable march of technological progress, in the process screwing over all the private and business clients of the NBN (forced clients, I should add) who will have to pay more than they would have otherwise paid for their internet, if Australia had sane governments and normal, competitive telecommunications market.

Granted, 5G is still in experimental stages, but it will be here sooner than we think. Or will it? And what will the future governments do to keep its price artificially high – and much higher than everywhere around the world – in order to save the NBN’s flawed business model?

The open and vibrant Australia of the 1980s and the 90s reform era, it was nice knowing you.