full opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay
5 September 2013
Image: Australian Greens
When it comes to technology policy in Australia’s 2013 Federal Election, there is one party with a better approach on almost every front. From supporting an all-fibre National Broadband Network to protecting Australians’ digital privacy rights, the Greens generally have their major competitors beat when it comes to technology policy, and their parliamentary experience gives them an edge on minor party rivals.
As the various political parties have gradually intensified the activities ahead of the Federal Election this Saturday, your humble writer has been accused at various points over the past year or so of being a sell-out shill for virtually every side. Simultaneously.
The outraged howls of protest which greeted my analysis of the Coalition’s National Broadband Network policy in April this year were some of the loudest which I’ve ever experienced in a decade as a journalist. The mere fact that I dared to describe the Coalition’s more minimalist, fibre to the node-based NBN policy as a “sensible alternative” to Labor’s fibre to the premises policy was enough for many in the technology sector to write me off forever as an ignorant peasant stuck in the Stone Age, devoid of all rational thought and reason.
The fact that quite a few other first-world countries have already very successfully deployed the FTTN technology the Coalition has focused on appeared to have been lost on most commenters on the issue, as was the fact that I stated clearly in the article that I still vastly preferred Labor’s policy, as it was superior on every front. As I wrote at the time:
“Fundamentally, it’s a worse policy than Labor’s. Its critics are right; it betrays a tragic loss of long-term vision for Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure. Fibre to the node is a dead-end technology which will, in several decades, be already fading into memory. By investing in fibre to the node, the Coalition isn’t skating to where the puck is going to be, nor even where it is now. It is looking backwards, not forwards, and by doing so it is throwing away the opportunity for Australia’s economy to transition from digging things up out of the ground to a more sustainable knowledge-based export economy — you know, the kind of economy which countries such as Germany and Japan already have.
On almost any measure, Labor’s policy is a better one than the Coalition’s. It has technical, economic, financial and industry structure advantages, to say nothing of the end benefit to Australian residents and businesses. It’s a winner and I prefer it vastly over the Coalition’s much more modest vision.”