8 August 2013
TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON MALCOLM TURNBULL MP
INTERVIEW WITH PAUL MURRAY
RADIO 2UE SYDNEY
Topics: National Broadband Network, Rupert Murdoch, Clover Moore's removal of election corflutes
Last night on the 7.30 report Kevin Rudd I thought was beginning to lose it. I have no idea why he’s so cranky so early in the campaign. I thought things were going pretty well. According to some people it’s 50-50. But he’s yet again leapt into you and the Coalition about the National Broadband Network. I’ll play you what he had to say and I’d like to get your reaction.
KEVIN RUDD [Recording]:
He owns 70 per cent of the print media in Australia, fact one. Fact two, first day of the campaign through his principal mastheads in Australia, they say this Government must go. Thirdly he’s said so through his own direct statements that he wants Mr Abbott to replace me as Prime Minister. That’s fine – that’s his democratic right. It’s a free country. The question that I pose through this is simply as follows: What is underneath all this? Is it to do with the National Broadband Network representing a commercial threat to Foxtel? I’ve seen some commentary on that. And I’ve only just been looking back on the files today and discovered that in fact, Mr Abbott’s broadband policy was launched at Fox Studios here in Sydney. I would like to hear some answers to what discussions Mr Abbott has had with Mr Murdoch on the future of Australia’s National Broadband Network.
Well Malcolm Turnbull all of it seems to suggest that Rupert Murdoch wrote your NBN policy. First thing’s first: Have you had discussions with Rupert Murdoch about your NBN policy? And secondly why did you launch it at Fox Sports?
Well let me deal with the second one. We launched it at Fox Sports because it was an interesting colourful, visual background to do a policy launch. The policy itself is about 60 pages and has a very detailed analysis. It’s riveting stuff if you’re interested in the economics of broadband and technology. But for a media event you obviously want to make it interesting and hence we launched it at Fox Sports. That’s the simple answer to it.
In terms of talking to Murdoch about it, I don’t recall discussing the NBN with Murdoch but I have to say that the view that he’s put in the public domain is pretty much the same as everybody else in the business community has taken which is: How on earth can the Government justify embarking on such a gigantic project with so little consideration, no cost-benefit analysis, no limit on the costs, no realistic understanding on how long it’s going to take. The whole thing looks thoroughly unbusiness-like and reckless. So Murdoch I’m sure has some original opinions on some things but on the NBN he’s just expressing the standard view you’d find from pretty much every business person I talk to around the country.
Well and there’s endless examples of failures and shortfalls – front page of the Fin Review today screaming headline NBN to miss 2014 target for rollout. It’s what 273,000 homes short and by the way that’s only homes that it goes past, not homes that it connects to.
Well that’s right. Their original business plan said that by June 30 this year – when I say original it’s not very long ago, it’s the end of 2010 – they said by June 30 this year they would have passed and be able to connect 950,000 premises in built up areas, brown field areas. As of June 30 they’d passed about 160,000, a quarter of which they couldn’t connect even if the owners wanted to.
The project is way behind, it’s over budget. You’ve seen recently reports that contractors are going broke, they have resigned one of the major contractors for a year only and at significantly increased contract rates so look there are a lot of problems. So look there are a lot of problems with this project and that’s not the end of it and the most wicked thing is that the Labor Party has been out there saying both through Kevin Rudd and also through a whole lot of letter box leaflets saying that connecting to Labor’s NBN is free. And that is an outright lie. It’s certainly not free to the taxpayer, they’ve got to pay for it. and if you want to be connected to the NBN, access the Internet, browse the web, download videos, you’re going to have to pay a monthly fee like you do to your ISP today.
So it is outrageous some of the things they’re saying and it’s you know getting back to Murdoch, I think Murdoch’s views on this subject very pedestrian and common place.
But also I’ve got to say I think Kevin Rudd bears a real risk of looking borderline hysterical about the way that he has really genuinely been rattled by reasonable, colourful, maybe over the top, maybe one-eyed but still criticism. We saw it with David Bradbury when I bloke tried to ask him questions on the radio. We saw it last night on the 730 Report. Kevin Rudd seems genuinely obsessed with the fact that Rupert Murdoch no longer gives him the Royal Kiss.
Well, look, he spent years duchessing the News Limited empire and he used to be the darling of the News Limited tabloids and now they don’t love him anymore and he’s like a jilted lover and that’s why he’s bitter. But he should be big enough to recognise that newspapers are entitled to an opinion and as far as the threat to Murdoch and Foxtel from the NBN, let me be quite clear. It is my view that insofar as the National Broadband Network is a threat to Foxtel, our approach to it is a bigger threat because we will get the network completed sooner and it will be more affordable so more people will be able to use it.
And the reason that the threat is only because the internet is itself is a threat because you don’t have to buy a subscription to Foxtel to get all sorts of movies, you can buy them direct from Apple TV and numerous other sources over the net. You can start seeing the internet as a sort of super platform, challenging Pay TV in the same way it has challenged newspapers. Yes, the internet is a threat, but there are very big opportunities for Murdoch of course because he creates so much content.
And finally what about Queen Clover Moore she doesn’t like your election posters. She claims that you’re not allowed to start whacking these things up until two weeks before the election and she’s been responding to concerns from residents and they’ve been pulling them down one by one.
Well I just hope that Clover gives them back because she says she’s a great environmentalist and in that case I’d be very happy to recycle them on lampposts that belong to councils that are not as grumpy and intolerant of political campaigning as the City Council is at the moment. But that’s alright, we can live with that, no hard feelings. But Clover, just give us the posters back please.
Alright, you don’t want her to melt them down and turn them into some new public toilet as part of her revolutionary of pissoirs everywhere.
Well, she could always use them to pave the bike paths, but I think I’d rather have them back.
Alright Mr Turnbull, nice to talk to you all the best for the campaign.
Thanks Paul, bye.