SHORTS – The NBN and You!

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In Australian politics the public are constantly treated like morons and fed dumbed down rhetoric by our political parties. I’m gonna Stop the Boats” says Tony. How is not quite clear. “JULIAR” scream the Liberals as they play the person and not the ball. Similarly anything worthwhile that the Liberals may have to offer is lost in accusations that Tony Abbott is a misogynist or that Sophie Mirabella slept her way to the top. Informed, constructive and intelligent debate on policy rarely occurs.

Because we cannot rely on our political parties to provide us with informed political debate The Rebuttal has decided to take things into its own hands. Over the next few months articles will be produced to explore some of the major policy platforms being presented by our political parties. We cannot promise not to show bias but what we hope is that these articles will at least help the reader be better informed and more importantly encourage debate and discussion.

This article will focus on the National Broadband Network (NBN). Australia is on the cusp of being the envy of the world with its National Broadband Network. Through an NBN information will be shared faster. Doctors will be able to consult with you in your living room through your computer.  Did you know that you can test your blood sugar levels and have this analysed over the internet? The NBN will allow this to be done within seconds.  A one gigabyte movie will be downloaded in 8 seconds rather than an hour. Kids that cannot access good education because of remoteness will now have access to classrooms almost anywhere in Australia. The benefits of an NBN will be immense.

Once the NBN is up and running Internet speeds will be awesome. Those that already have the NBN will tell you that it is brilliant. In a country like Australia, where distance is a killer, fast Internet is a must. Just for the Deaf, for example, they will be able to access an Auslan interpreter virtually anywhere and the picture will be movie quality. In the future many interpreters will be based at a computer. This will lead to a reduction in costs that are involved with travel. Time lost in travel will be reduced meaning that more time will be available to actually interpret. This will mean that issues relating to demand and supply of interpreters will be less of a problem. Travelling 600 kms for support for things like speech therapy might be a thing of the past because the NBN might allow this to happen effectively through ones computer.

An article at the website Computer world[1] discusses the economic benefits of the NBN. This article points out that whatever outlay the Government makes to the NBN is likely to be offset by indirect benefits to the economy. In essence by investing in a world leading NBN Australia cannot lose. Indeed in this article it quotes the World Bank’s lead ICT policy specialist, Dr Tim Kelly who said. “….. the broader, intangible benefits of investment in broadband mean that it is rarely, if ever, a bad investment”

The Liberals have come up with an alternative policy. This policy is based on what they believe is the minimum that Australians “need”. Rather than having the best and fastest they are scaling it down to what they believe we NEED. They say that their policy will be $20 billion less. In fact in the long term the Liberal policy of connecting fibre to homes through existing copper networks will cost more. Not only will it actually cost more but the speeds will be slower. Labor policy is for 93% of homes to have full fibre connections. Experts almost as one support Labors plan. The simple explanation is that fibre allows for faster internet speeds and will costs less to maintain. The copper network that we currently have requires constant upgrading and maintenance which will mean greater costs in the long run. Simply put, invest in fibre now save later. Paul Buddle points this out at his Blog, the Buddleblog[2] when he states, …. a short-term saving might result in long-term higher costs and, over time, an obsolete infrastructure that needs to be overhauled by fibre anyway.”

Polls show that 78% of Australians support the NBN. BUT it appears Australians want Labor out. The latest Polls show slight gains by Labor. Despite these gains 55% of Australians would vote Liberal rather than Labor.[3] The NBN will bring enormous benefits to the country. Clearly the public want an NBN. Yet strangely they are hovering over the metaphorical DELETE button ready to send Labor to oblivion.

If you want an NBN think hard before you vote.

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