Labor has released its much-awaited plan on National Broadband Network. It has promised to connect an additional two million houses with Fibre to the Home internet connections by 2022. The move is considered to be Shorten’s last major policy announcement for the Australian election 2016.
The party has presented the plan in a bid to woo younger voters in the Australian election, along with universities and businesses which rely on fast internet speeds. At the same time, Labor will continue with Coalition’s Hybrid Fibre Co-Axial (HFC) connections via Pay TV cables, reported ABC.
On Monday morning, Labor announced its revised plans for the National Broadband Network. Under the plan, the party will phase out the Coalition government’s Fibre to the Node (FTTN) after present contract obligations are worked out.
Although the time frame is the same as promised by the current government, under Labor, 39 percent of homes and businesses will get Fibre. On the other hand, under the current plan, it is only 20 percent. Moreover, Labor will cap its spending at the beginning from $49 billion to $57 billion, while the existing plan’s cost is $46 billion to $56 billion. Worthy to note is that the existing plan already costs far more than the original estimate of $29.5 billion, as per the Sydney Morning Herald.
The move has been considered as Bill Shorten’s last major policy announcements outside his campaign launch speech in Australian election 2016, which he will deliver next Sunday. It is aimed at voters who are already frustrated with poor internet services.
Labor spokesperson Jason Clare said, “We can’t just click our fingers the day after the election and rip out all the nodes that Malcolm Turnbull has built. But we can roll out more Fibre where he hasn’t started yet.”
The Opposition said that the changes will be cost neutral because of savings made by reduced maintenance on the FTTN network.
ZD Net quoted Shorten’s statement where he said, “Labor will spend exactly the same amount of public funding on the NBN as the Liberals. There will be no impact on the budget from this announcement. The public equity contribution will be the same regardless of who wins the election.” He also added, “Fast broadband creates jobs. But you can’t have an innovation boom while you are still buffering.”
Shorten further pointed out that under the Turnbull government, Australia has dropped to the 60th spot in the world’s internet speed. He blamed it on the government’s mismanagement.
The NBN plan was announced after the Australian Federal Police’s investigation on Australian Labor Party (ALP) in raids over apparent leaks of NBN Co. The documents seized are currently with the Senate clerk. The documents will be presented in the Upper House to determine whether parliamentary privilege on documents applies, as claimed by Labor.
Prime Minister Turnbull, on the other hand, attacked Shorten by saying, “What we’ve seen is another example today of ‘Shorten-omics’, which is distinguished by being very short on economics. The truth is that Labor completely mismanaged and bungled the NBN. It was a hopelessly failed project.”
Turnbull defended his track record by saying, “Just in the last month the NBN connected more premises than Labor did in six years.”