Tuesday, 25 June 2013

NBN: One poll that the LNP cannot have done.

In an on-line chat between six people, most over 50 and one under 30, we took a straw poll:
If the current direct Fibre rollout by NBN Co is massively cutback, will it ever be completed?
Paraphrased as: "If not done now, it will never happen".

The result? All the older people were more than certain that if the Liberal-National Parties cancelled the current NBN Co rollout of Fibre to all fixed-lines, it would never happen. 'never' as within 50-100 years.

This raises three questions for me:
  • Why were we all so cynical about the LNP promises?
  • Are these views widely shared?
    • Needs a poll and/or focus group to find out & unpick the attitudes/beliefs.
  • Is this important?
Last question first:
I don't believe there is more important, more urgent or more beneficial infrastructure project on the table now. Arguably, the NBN is the most important common-wealth project of the last 25 and next 25 years.
I'd like the Turnbull and the LNP to show me why this isn't so. If they cannot soundly demonstrate that Computers + Broadband don't improve economic productivity across the whole economy, they should be modifying their plan to maximise the rollout of direct Fibre.

Completing the full direct Fibre rollout should, for economic and social benefits, be our highest national priority. That it will pay for itself and return the taxpayer a good return is a bonus.

As a nation, we should be building this productivity improving, common asset, even if we had to fully fund it from taxes and it didn't return a profit.

That the LNP don't see this or their ideological filters prevent them from acknowledging or allowing the possibility, should be of deep concern to all voters and especially conservative voters.

These Parties are more than willing to destroy the best economic and social investment the nation could make in 50-100 years, just to prove a political point or slavishly following their ideologies.

Barnaby Joyce, with Ellen Fanning, raised exactly the right question:
"SBS or NBN? Which one?" (meaning "if you had to decide which one of the two to fund, which one would you choose?" ), which is really
"Can you think of a more important national project than an NBN?"
I can't think of a more pervasively beneficial, more high-impact or more urgent national infrastructure project.
Every single thing we do in our lives will benefit from fast, universal and guaranteed cheap broadband.

Every other infrastructure project or investment you can think of has limited scope, capped returns or finite resources, but an NBN enhances everything, more so with time:
Mines run out (far too quickly!), Farming The North will benefit only that region, and any regional or sector program has, by definition, limited effects.
Computers with Broadband is the real Computer Revolution, just as the Dot Boom pre-2000 thought.
The Coalition Parties cannot afford to find out what the electorate thinks on this topic.

If it became irrefutable public knowledge that most Australians don't just believe but know that there is just one chance at having a full direct Fibre NBN, and it's now or never, they know it would be used against them.


Compare each of these "Top 10" questions from the SMH with what a direct Fibre NBN will impact.
The only question the NBN can't help substantially with, or improve, is Asylum seekers. Others might see a way.

So what is Australia talking about?
  1. Will I lose my job?
    •  Improved Productivity, Labour and MFP, increases Australia's international competitiveness and protects existing firms & jobs and creates new jobs.
  2. Can hospitals look after me if I get sick?
    • Telehealth and improved in-home aged care are two of the big applications of the NBN.
  3. How will the Gonski reform change my school?
    • Ditto Education, major NBN application area.
  4. Has the government given up on asylum seekers?
    • NBN can't obviously improve this area.
  5. Who wins on fast broadband?
    • Anyone who can deliver universal direct Fibre, will win.
  6. The climate
    • NBN reduces commuting & air-travel with HiDef Video conferencing.
    • smart-grid and more...
  7. Planes, trains and automobiles
    • NBN reduces need to commute and travel.
  8. Will I have enough on which to retire?
    • Improved Economic Productivity:
      • more likely you'll have a better job for longer, so save more super
      • There'll be a higher tax-base to support pensioners
      • a better, more robust & competitive economy will give much better returns for super funds, especially for those drawing down retirement streams.
  9. The size of Australia
    • A better economy, reduced road infrastructure and higher productivity mean whatever the population of Australia, the economy will be more competitive, larger, with less "drag" from wasted travel and able to accommodate more people with less new infrastructure.
  10. Will Australia succumb to the financial crisis?
    • Not if we actively improve productivity and our competitiveness!
    • Just "cutting costs" and "reigning in spending" (i.e. "more of the same" approach) cannot improve long-term economic prospects.
    • Why did Australia build the Snowy Mountains Hydro scheme? For the long-term economic improvement. Not because it would save any money or buy immigrant jobs.

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