The campaigning website change.org has been hosting an onine petition calling on the Coalition to abandon its NBN policy and complete the National Broadband Network on the same design as that set out by Labor - fibre to the premises to 93% of the population.
Last Saturday there was a general election at which the NBN was one of the most prominent issues. The Coalition's NBN Policy - which can be read here had been published in April - five months ahead of the election. The Coalition won the election.
The promoters of this petition apparently believe that we should ignore the lengthy public debate on the NBN that preceded the election and also ignore the election result. We should within days of the election walk away from one of our most well debated, well understood and prominent policies. Democracy? I don't think so.
For those who don't have time to read our policy (but time to sign an online petition) there are a few important points to bear in mind.
We do not regard technology as an ideological issue. We are technologically agnostic. We want to ensure that all Australians have very fast broadband as soon, as cheaply and as affordably as possible. The NBN project at present is running over budget and way behind schedule. At the current rate of progress it will take decades to complete and close to $100 billion.
The Labor Government has not been honest with the public about the NBN. They never conducted a cost benefit analysis, they have sought at every turn to conceal the fact that the project has been failing to meet its targets.
We will bring the public into our confidence. We will open the books of the NBN. There will be a strategic review conducted within the next 60 days which will show how long it will take and how much it will cost to complete the NBN on the current specifications and what that means both to the taxpayer and to the consumers. We will also set out what our options are to complete the project sooner and more cost effectively and again what that means in terms of affordability and of course in service levels. Many of the FTTP supporters on twitter and elsewhere say that they don't care what it costs or how long it takes - they want fibre to the home regardless. That point of view is reckless in the extreme. Every public infrastructure project has to be carefully and honestly analysed so that governments, and citizens, can weigh up the costs and benefits.
This study is vital for the public to be fully informed and our redesign of the project will be informed by the result of those studies.
The NBN debate is not over - but I am determined to ensure that from now on it is at least fully informed.