Sunday, January 4, 2009

Wake up Senator Minchin

The supposed coalition communications spokesman had a short letter published in today's Australian Financial Review. As there is no free on-line version I will quote it completely.

It is a good time to ask why our broadband services haven't dramatically improved as a direct result of action taken by the Rudd government. It is an important question because, when in opposition, Mr Rudd used broadband as a key election issue and made all sorts of big promises and inferences. He and his now Communications Minister Stephen Conroy gave the impression they would wave some magic wand and make our broadband speeds significantly faster almost overnight.

They promised that before the end of 2008 construction of a new high-speed fibre network would have begun and Australians would already be benifitting from new services. But the government, which oplans to spend $4.7 billion of taxpayers' money, has yet to select a network builder and it is doubtful any national rollout will start in 2009.

Significantly, the broadband network promised by Labor will take at least five years to build, and more likely eight, yet the government inexplicably cancelled the previous government's rural and regional broadband network project. The OPEL network would have delivered new services to more than 500,000 under-serviced premises by mid-2009.

A shocking piece really, given that the government's preferred model is to invest the $4.7 bilion, not spend it. Also he ignore the fact that one of his moves in parliament was to try to stop the $2 billion in the Communications Fund from being invested in the NBN.

But the real houler is the reference to the government "inexplicably" cancelling the OPEL contract. It is not difficult or impossible to explain the cancellation - just read the Minister's media release at the time. There he could read the Minister's words;

DBCDE performed an analysis of the detailed testing and mapping undertaken by OPEL, and determined that the OPEL network would cover only 72% of identified under-served premises. On the basis of DBCDE's assessment, the Government determined that OPEL's Implementation Plan did not satisfy the condition precedent of the funding agreement, and as a result the contract has been terminated.

Seems pretty well explained to me.

But Minchin can't help hmself on this sort of stuff. I was quite coincdentally cleaning out my study yesterday and came across an AFR from 22 March 2001. It reads (in part) as follows.

Flagging greenhouse as an election issue, the Federal Government has attacked Labor's environment policy, arguing it would cost jobs.

Labor's commitment to introducing a national greenhouse emissions trading scheme is "most alarming", the Industry Minister, Senator Nick Minchin, told the AFR. "This isgoing to be a major negative for the Labor Party: it would be a huge disincentive for investment and would cost many jobs in Victoria," he said.

The article concludes;

Senator Minchin echoed Foreign Minister Mr Alexander Downer's support fr the reiteration by the US of its rejection of Kyoto. "I welcome the US's reiteration that without the participation of China and India the protocol's not workable," Senator Minchin said.

You really get the feeling that Minchin is a politician whose time has been and gone and should join many of his former felow ministers in alternative employment, or a decent retirement.

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