Cries of “call off the NBN” grow louder

When Telstra started running ads on TV saying that they were building a “national broadband network” two weeks or so ago, alarm bells should have started ringing. Telstra was, of course, quite publicly disqualified from bidding for Conroy’s Government sponsored National Broadband Network (NBN). Unsurprisingly, they’re going to build their own network in parallel with his.

chimproyThis has accelerated calls for Conroy to throw in the towel, admit he’s a moron, and stop the NBN bleeding. The next person to join the already quite long conga line is Alan Kohler of Business Spectator (free registration required):

Telstra’s decision to upgrade its cable definitely now means that the National Broadband Network won’t get built.

It has been the beginning and end of communications policy for two years, but this policy is no more. It has ceased to be. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. It’s run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. This…is an ex-policy.

Well, to be precise it is now a bush broadband subsidy policy, rather like the previous government’s Broadband Connect policy, which was gleefully cancelled by the new minister, Stephen Conroy, last year in favour of a “12 megabits for 98 per cent of Australians” election promise policy.

This has gone through the motions, but it was already in trouble when the global financial crisis hit because the rest of the funds, on top of the Government’s $4.7 billion, will be hard if not impossible to get.

So essentially, the Howard government’s OPEL plan for regional Australia which was to be built for less than $1bn of Commonwealth funds and was scrapped by the incoming minister Conroy, is now looking pretty good in comparison to the $4.7bn NBN joke he has failed to enact. After all this, it seems very likely that Conroy will actually revert to a plan similar to OPEL. Some might call it a waste of time and money. I just call it a farce.

Serious questions need to be asked about Conroy’s worth as a minister. It’s without doubt that, as the face of these failed policies, he has greatly diminished the public’s view of the Government . He has achieved nothing during his time as minister, and it’s not like he hasn’t had a decent chance.

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