Abbott lauds cheaper broadband plan

The Coalition announced its new broadband plan yesterday as an alternative to the governments $43 billion NBN. The ABC reports:

Broadband represents a major point of difference between the two major parties in the election campaign, with the Opposition today saying it would scrap Labor's $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) if elected.

The Coalition says it would instead spend $6 billion to encourage the private sector to expand internet services across the country.

While admitting his lack of "technical competence", Mr Abbott spruiked his party's plan on ABC1's 7:30 Report.

"I accept that not everyone is going to like our system," he said.

"But I just don't believe you can trust this Government to roll out a $43 billion bit of infrastructure.

"I think we can do something that will be good for a lot less.

"Our system is going to cost vastly less, but it will be there quicker than Labor's system and it doesn't put all Australia's eggs in the basket of one particular technology."

Mr Abbott says the NBN is part of one of Labor's "big bang spending sprees".

"You can't trust the Government that couldn't deliver school halls and couldn't get pink batts into roofs to deliver this highly sophisticated national network," he said.

"This Government hasn't got anything else right. Why do we say they're going to get this right?"

Under the Coalition's plan, 97 per cent of homes would have access to networks which would deliver broadband at speeds of between 12 Mega bits per second (Mbps) and 100Mbps by 2016 through a combination of technologies.

The Government's fibre-optic network would offer speeds of 100Mbps to much of the country and is due to be completed by 2018.

via www.abc.net.au

It's all a little bit over my head, but $43 billion is a massive government investment to be making when we're borrowing the amount of money we are at the moment. And forgive my glass-half-full approach to this, but the NBN won't be delivered for eight years. Eight years ago I had dial-up internet and was using floppy disks. It's anyone's guess where global communications technology will be in 2018. Is the massively expensive NBN really an investment in the future, or is it an investment in today's technology that won't be delivered until tomorrow?

I'm no tech expert, so I'm interested in your thoughts comparing the two plans economically and technically in the comments section below.

Will Gillard Have the NBN Costed?

The NBN deserves at least as much scrutiny as Julia Gillard (allegedly) applied to other policies,  writes Milton von Smith

This week marked yet another Kevin Rudd moment for Julia Gillard: her very own "I'm an economic conservative" claim.  

Responding to leaks from a not-so-anonymous source that she opposed the pension increase and the paid parental leave proposals, Gillard said:

"As we worked our way through both the pension increase and the paid parental leave scheme, I looked at them from every angle.

"I
held them up to the light. I examined every possibility. I asked every
question, because I wanted to satisfy myself they were affordable:
affordable today and affordable tomorrow.

"You can be passionate
about doing something and hard-headed in getting it done. So if people
want a prime minister that will have $50 billion of expenditure put
before them and sign away without even a question asked, well, I'm not
it."

This explanation is straight out of the Kevin Rudd playbook, and our shameful media accepted it unquestioningly. 

None of them seem to remember the 2007 campaign, when Rudd kept repeating the line that he was an "economic conservative" (only to later put the Budget into the largest deficit in history). 

But, thanks to former ALP National Secretary Tim Gartrell we all know the true history of that statement:

"KEVIN had talked a lot about wanting to get across that he's fiscally
conservative. I think it was Neil Lawrence who said, "Why don't we just
boldly claim it?" Just before it went to air I thought, F. . k! Was Rudd
right? Was his claim independently verifiable? Had a number of people
really described him as being an economic conservative? So I googled it
and found two references to Rudd being an economic conservative — one
was in a Paul Kelly article, and then one other that was sort of, Kevin
Rudd likes to tell people he's an economic conservative."

Reports suggest that Julia Gillard will announce the footprint of the largest white elephant in our nation's history, the National Broadband Network, in Perth today.

So here are some questions that someone should ask Gillard today. 

As she worked her way through the NBN, did she subject it to the same scrutiny as she claims she did for the pension increase and the paid parental leave proposal?

Did she "look at the NBN from every angle?"
Did she "hold the NBN up to the light"
Did she "examine the NBN's every possibility"?

Did she "ask every question, because she wanted to satisfy herself the NBN was affordable: affordable today and affordable tomorrow"?

The answer to all of these questions is, of course, no.

Gillard has claimed that her policies would be "absolutely transparent to every Australian before election day."

The only way for Gillard to be "absolutely transparent" about the NBN is to do something that her predecessor refused to do: subject the NBN to a full cost-benefit analysis.

And she could start the ball rolling by submitting the NBN policy to Treasury and Finance for an election costing.