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Labor’s NBN is damned by the latest review:
“By contrast, with NBN Mark I, the public policy process for developing NBN Mark II was rushed, chaotic and inadequate,” it says.
The plan got just 11 weeks’ consideration and “there is no evidence that a full range of options was seriously considered”.
“There was no business case or any cost-benefit analysis, or independent studies of the policy undertaken, with no clear operating instructions provided to this completely new government business enterprise, within a legislative and regulatory framework still undefined, and without any consultation with the wider community,” the report says.
In other findings, the audit says full cabinet did not consider the policy until very early on the April 2009 morning it was announced, and its role was to “rubber-stamp” a decision by the strategic priorities and budget committee of cabinet.
It also revealed that public servants had “difficulty” in having their “voice” heard on many of the most important policy matters related to Labor’s NBN policy, often finding their advice was ignored or that they were excluded from contributing.
Ah How I remember the many minions of the left were singing the praises of the NBN MK2, the problem for them was/is that what they were really praising was the idea and the dream of super-fast internet even though the reality had turned into a nightmare of confusion and delay that would vex any engine.
I have looked at the turgid prose of one Ricky Pannowitz before and found it wanting well it turns out that Ricky is a big fan of the NBN and he has written a rather long rant about its virtues on his blog and to day I’m going to look at just what he is arguing for and see if what he says stacks up.for the sake of this post I’m going to concentrate on his last three paragraphs, Mainly because his opening paragraphs are all rather confused and do nothing to put forward any sort of cogent thesis.
Anyway lets look at the guts of his argument.
Third world countries like South Korea warp past us and our future economy at the “LIGHT SPEED” of the real information Superhighway,” fibre to the house”. That not the light speed that those expert commentators say gen Y gamers travel at that we don’t need because it’s a monumental waste of money, glue and staples. That’s the speed at which real time medical imaging, teleconferencing, energy control systems, regionalisation and other future technological benefits, too visionary a higher concept for their poor toaster oven mentality to comprehend.
Hmm he starts with a bit of racism if you ask me, south Korea may be an Asian nation but it is very far from being in any meaningful sense of the “third world” its a modern industrial country and yes they do seem to have put a lot of effort into this technology but they have more than twice our population in a country about the size of Tasmania. Am I the only one here who can see that the economics for creating a complex network in such a small area make such fancy toys much more cost-effective than trying to create a similar network over an entire continent that has a much smaller population.
We seem to be content to be lost on a misinformation back road with an out-dated street directory from nineteen fifty rather than tackle this elephant in the room at the expense of the future.
Talk about mixed metaphors! Ricky has the pachyderm on a highway to hell without a decent map! Oh the humanity of it all!
When I explained the practicalities of what we have now ten years ago, you laughed at me as your eyes glaze(d) over.
Did we really? I don’t recall that at all so who precisely were you talking to about this stuff and do you have any proof for this claim?
Now it’s here everyone sees the benefits. See we were rite(sic) and have not failed you all.
The benefits are still very debatable Ricky because like a lot of technophiles you don’t seem to understand that just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done I just love some of the things that we can do on the net but I’m a discerning user who is less than impressed by the “gee Whiz” effect of new technology. and I always want to know if it will make life better or just inspire further devotion to the corporate empires of the technology makers
Don’t worry accountants build and the money will come, the business case will come, the economic rationalisation will come.
I think that Ricky is channelling Kevin Costner here:
When your bucket of ideological opposition is empty, the bipartisan visionary bucket is full of positive aspirational hope. Not everything has a quantifiable, economically rational cost.
Which means what precisely? I think that Paul Simon has some wisdom to share on the nature of technology and progress:
Just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done.
I sat around for years trying to figure out how to make money from the internet and looky now.
Yes look at all of the scams and schemers from Nigeria et al, Making money form the internet eh?
Furthermore, this nation was not was not three word slogans.
Do you want a “do over” on this sentence Ricky? You need it!
I find someone who has no credibility whatsoever on this issue using lies in three word slogans like “big white elephant” and “will not work’ an insult to Australians intelligence.
Clunk-o-rama!!! I really hope that Ricky is better on computer networks than he is on the English language because his prose is the real insult to any Australian’s intelligence.
This same language is being echoed by members of the Nationals in coalition who say they have the best interests of regional Australia at heart. Sorry I don’t buy that hypocrisy any more than the shadow minister for communications does.
The Nationals understand the real needs of those of us who live outside the big smoke far better than this pampered city boy who is in love with the idea of super-fast internet.
This divisive Noism demonstrates a serious lack of understanding of the issue and its benefits capped by an unhealthy lack of vision.
It’s not a lack of vision Ricky is a long memory of visions espoused that have proven to be far less than the promise when they have actually been built
Do we want narrow focussed Luddite’s using divisive doomsday language running our fine nation; dictating its future? It’s this offensive and divisive political point scoring that threatens Australia’s future prosperity, not establishing critical infrastructure.
What we want is political players who can consider the benefits in comparison to the costs of projects like the NBN, fan boys like Ricky are the last people that we should trust when it comes to the virtues of such large expenditures. We need to decide just how critical such infrastructure really is rather than just submitting to the Gee Whizz love of the new that drives the likes of Ricky Pannowitz.
We tried market forces, it did not work, let’s move on. So stand aside agenda benders or become road kill on one of the greatest asset’s a prosperous future economy can have; the road to information.
With out a purpose “the road to information” is actually a road to nowhere but enslavement to the machines.
Who knows?,It may just lead to knowledge and ultimately wisdom. Don’t just take my word for it
I feel sorry for the slaves to the machines like Ricky Pannowitz because they don’t realise that the machines are meant to serve us rather than being our masters and that humanity has a higher purpose than being bricks in the corporate walls that define our society these days personally I don’t want to be another brick in the wall and I don’t want to see my children share that fate either:
So lets choose the future direction for our country that benefits its people rather than the corporate worshippers of Mammon and their sycophantic technophiles like Ricky Pannowitz.
Surely it stands to reason for the NBN not to be a Pale Pachyderm the people have to actually want its service Yet the report in today’s Oz we are told that only one person in ten who have had the chance to sign up for a super fast service have actually chose to do so. This is probably what there is now all this talk of making the NBN something that you must opt out of rather than it being something that people have to actively sign on to.
“The Western Australian government is concerned about the sluggish take-up rates during the NBN test phase in Tasmania,” Commerce Minister Bill Marmion said.
A stoush also looms between the federal and NSW governments over the NBN rollout.
NSW is staring down threats by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to use federal powers to force people on to the NBN if the states and territories do not mandate connections.
In a bid to improve on the lacklustre broadband take-up rates, the Tasmanian government has switched to an “opt-out” model that automatically connects homes and businesses unless they actively refuse.
After reports that Senator Conroy had said the government would consider mandating it through federal parliament, NSW Commerce Minister Paul Lynch maintained that NSW “has no plans to legislate an opt-out model for National Broadband Network connection”.
“We are continuing to work with the commonwealth and other jurisdictions about rollout of the NBN,” Mr Lynch said.
Constitutional law expert George Williams sounded a note of caution over Senator Conroy’s threat to use federal law, saying the government might face demands for compensation after such a move.
“The problem for them is that at the federal level if there’s any acquisition of property involved, they would need to provide just terms as a consequence,” Professor Williams said, adding that detail on Senator Conroy’s threat was scant.
The Government’s scheme is unravelling and it appears that the only way it has even the slightest hope of getting enough subscribers is to force people to take up the scheme. But there is one more thing that occurs to me and that is the minor problem that a FO system needs a power source in the home to work, so unlike the current copper system your home phone will not work when there has been a power failure which can be a big problem if you live in an area similar to mine where the power often goes out. You may end up sitting in the dark and unable to contact your energy supplier because the FO translator has no power…
As I have suggested before most people don’t need super hi-speed internet and if the only way that the government can get enough subscribers to the NBN service is to force them to sign up then there has to be a very serious problem with the business case for the huge expenditure from the public purse isn’t there???
With the news that the operators of the Clem7 tunnel are facing being wound up because the business plan that underpinned their investment was somewhat divorced from reality we can only wonder if there is a lesson here for the much bigger infrastructure project that has been so hyped by Labor and our friends from the left.
“As a result of the lower traffic volumes and yet to be finalised arrangements with its banks, the RiverCity Motorway Group Final Financial Report has been prepared on the basis that an orderly winding up of the group could occur sometime after September 2011,” the statement said.
The statement said the group had cash reserves of $106 million to support its operations and interest payments until at least September next year.
“The ability for the group to continue beyond this period will depend on future traffic levels, toll pricing and/or suitable arrangements with its banks,” the statement said.
RiverCity Motorway chairman Robert Morris said lower-than-expected traffic volumes through the $3 billion Clem7 tunnel meant the group would have to secure agreements with its banks to sustain the group until after the connecting Airport Link tunnel opened in 2012.
You have to think that if something like this much hyped tunnel (which certainly does cut travel times across Brisbane) can’t pay its way because the business case for its construction used faulty assumptions what sort of prospect has the NBN got of not ending up in the same sort of boat? (only bigger 🙄 )
The cost of building the network has drawn criticism from Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim Helu.
Mr Slim said the cost, which equated to $7000 for every home, was too high and that the government should be using a multi-platform approach, instead of relying on fibre-optic technology.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott agrees with Mr Slim, saying the billionaire was echoing coalition policy.“We’ve been saying for months now this is going to be a great big $43bn white elephant that Australia doesn’t need,” he told ABC Radio.
I accept that we would all like the best possible internet service but this project has been sold to the public on the basis that when completed it will be sold to the private sector and the governments investment in its construction will be recovered. Well if the experience of the Clem7 is anything to go by we just can’t be sure of that and the reluctance of the Government to even do the most basic of sums about the cost vs benefit dichotomy clearly suggests that Gillard and Co either don’t care about the project being economically viable, or they are just keen to build it because they are all fans of the Kevin Costner film “Field of dreams”
But what happens if they don’t come comrades?
I love trains and I love travel by train but I have never thought that the idea of a very fast train network between our major cities would be able pay its way so is is with some feeling of vindication that I note that a study has found precisely that.
“This analysis highlights that currently in Australia high-speed rail will not be viable.”
A high-speed rail network would require a minimum of six million travellers a year to be viable, but the briefing said 12 million to 20 million commuters were more typical.
The document, which was given to Seven Network News following a FOI request, showed while a Sydney-Newcastle-Canberra link would compete with the airline’s travel time, the cities did not have the populations to justify the link.
However, the paper also said the potential future viability of high-speed rail lines would be improved by a strategy of safeguarding future corridors and by applying policies to increase the size and density of key population centres.
“We know that there’s massive public support for high-speed rail,” Mr Albanese told Seven Network yesterday.
“But we need to know what the cost is and what the challenges are.”
Of course this begs the question of just why the government has to spend 20 million on a “feasibility study” when even the most basic calculations show that it is not worth doing. But what do you expect from a government that wants to spend 43 billion on the NBN when the business case for that has not even been considered?
Just confusion and not enough delay Comrades
Given the fact that the NBN was a deciding factor in the creation of the current government it makes good sense for Tony Abbott to appoint someone who both understands and “loves” the internet to prosecute the argument against this wasteful scheme.
The Government has revealed the first stage of the NBN rollout in Tasmania absorbed 90 per cent of the budget, but only connected fibre optic cable to 50 per cent of homes.
That is well below the Government’s take-up target of 80 per cent.
NBN Co says households that did not have fibre optic cable installed will have to pay to connect in the future.
Mr Turnbull told PM the Government has not been honest about the cost of the NBN rollout.
“It is quite extraordinary that they’re proposing to spend $43 billion of taxpayers’ money on a project they say will result in an asset worth $43 billion, and yet they have provided no evidence, no financial analysis, no business case, no financial models to justify that expenditure or to convince any of us that this isn’t going to be nothing other than a massive destruction of taxpayers’ money,” Mr Turnbull said.
“Every billion dollars that is wasted on this project – and I believe tens of billions of dollars will be wasted on this project if it goes ahead – is money that cannot be spent on fast rail, on public transport, on schools, on hospitals, on roads.
“What the Labor Government is doing here is something that no public company would ever be able to get away with.
“Any public company that said it was going to spend tens of billions of dollars on a new project would have to persuade and demonstrate to its shareholders that this was going to add value to the shareholders’ investment.”
But Mr Turnbull says he is not against broadband internet, quite the opposite.
“I am passionately in favour of broadband. I am a notorious internet junkie, and I love it,” he said.
“I’ve been involved in the internet since 1994 when we started OzEmail. So I’m very committed to it and I’m very committed to the amazing things that we can do with technology.
“But I’m also committed to not wasting tens of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.”
I would be delighted if all of the government propaganda about the NBN were true but I suspect that the hype far exceeds the reality and with someone like Malcolm in the trenches the Australian people will get the scrutiny of this expensive scheme that the Gillard government is less than enthusiastic about.
The question here is one of the cost vs the benefits and the fact is that the NBN has had no business case put for its existence. I am personally pleased to see Malcolm back into the front line in the ongoing fight against a bad government which we can expect to continue as it has over the last three years.
Where I live we had to wait for a very long time to get broadband and now the bets that we can get is adsl1 but the reality is that it is entirely adequate for what we want to do on the internet (yes including the time I spend Blogging 😉 ) My children can play games. My wife can check out what she is interested in on Ebay We can pay our bills on line it gives us enough functionality to do anything we want to do. Rather like the old adage that many hoarders will be familiar with that “the amount of Junk expands to fill the available space” seems to me to apply to things like internet capability. Now while some people are told that they will want to be able to do things like down load feature movies most of us would only consider doing so if it is cost effective to do so. The Price of DVD’s has declined so much that rather than using up bandwidth to buy a copy of a film we are more inclined to just building up our collections as we please. What I am saying here is that we have to be realistic about the cost benefit analysis of any big nation wide infrastructure roll out like the NBN under Labor.
I just about fell out of my chair with laughter when Stephen Conroy seriously suggested in the debate yesterday that we need to spend 43 Billion bucks just so that some computer could turn on people’s dishwashers! or so that some people could have doctor’s consultations over the net. In the first instance who really wants to add another level of complexity to their domestic infrastructure to enable such control? and in the second what is the point if actual treatment can’t be delivered over the net anyway?
I think that such things are the stuff of a Sci-Fi utopian story but the reality is that the more complicated you make something the more chances there are that some part of it will fail so instead of a the Utopia that the likes of Stephen Conroy is dreaming of we end up with a dystopia where everyone has all of these flash toys that just don’t work properly most of the time.
So while Labor want to offer Australia a Rolls Royce in every garage the Coalition has a more modest but far more realistic Ford proposition that will do everything that we actually need when it comes to broadband and at a cost to the public purse that is much more modest and affordable.
Mr Abbott said the government had bungled the roll-out of so many programs he did not believe it could deliver the NBN for $43bn.
Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb said the NBN was an example of Labor’s “tax, spend and borrow” approach to government. Rather than create a government monopoly and a “stodgy and cumbersome bureaucracy”, the Coalition was prepared to back the private sector. “We will embrace fierce competition, not stifle it,” he said. “There is a better way.”
Under the Coalition’s plan, 97 per cent of households will have services with speeds of up to 100 megabits per second — and a minimum of 12 megabits — by 2016 through a mixture of HFC cable, DSL and fixed wireless services. It would spend $2.75bn to create a nationwide competitive fibre-optic “backbone” by 2017, expecting it to attract $750 million extra in private-sector funding.
It would also spend $750m on existing fixed broadband services to increase the number of households that could receive a DSL service, and up to $1bn on new fixed wireless networks in rural areas. Up to $700m would support provision of improved satellite services to cover the remaining 3 per cent of the population.
We live on a vast island with relatively few people and frankly when it comes to flash toys like super high speed broadband we have to be realistic about what we can actually afford because I don’t think that I am alone in thinking that I have no confidence that Labor can deliver on the NBN without it costing much more than they claim and that they are sure to have over estimated the number of people who will be willing to pay 43 billion to have their dishwasher turned on and off by the bloody computer.