The NBN debate – a clutter of misinformation

Why is it that important debates around complex public policy are so contaminated by misinformation, so uninformed by accurate and complete information? At the charitable end of the spectrum it is because few if any have all the information, fewer understand it if they do, and even fewer are able to provide a lucid exposition if they had the inclination. At the other end of the spectrum, self interest operates so powerfully that withholding some of the information is deliberate, distorting it is a tactical objective, and presenting it in a manner favourable to the individual’s viewpoint is a strategic aim.

The debate about global warming is a classic example. Even those whose professional training requires them to be as objective and factually accurate as is humanly possible, in this case the climate change scientists, have consciously to strive to avoid bias. In a couple of notable instances they failed on this count at the University of East Anglia, and were pilloried for it in the media in what it chose to label ‘climategate’.

We are already seeing the debate about the Wild Rivers legislation distorted by self interest, and the emerging debate about Afghanistan too is headed that way.

This piece focuses on the NBN debate, not in any way to be an exposé that makes everything crystal clear. Many have tackled that in part, but has anyone done it comprehensively? Not that I’m aware of. Instead, the piece challenges the statements that have been made about the NBN, many of which are contradictory, often incomplete, too frequently inaccurate, or just plain devious. The purpose is to highlight the need to question every statement and to insist on seeing the supporting facts and the reasoning that has lead to the conclusion before accepting its veracity.

The $43 billion price tag
Let’s start with the most publicized fact, the total cost, said to be $43 billion, for rolling out the network nationwide. This is the figure the opponents of the NBN like to use as it is the highest. Yet Stephen Conroy has said repeatedly that the actual cost to the federal budget would be around $26 billion, the rest to be raised by NBN Co by selling bonds. The McKinsey KPMG report and Mike Quigley, CEO of NBN Co put the figure at between $26 and $27 billion. Whatever it is, it is around $16 billion less than the figure most used. Yet the larger figure is the figure we all know about. Labor has not done well in countering the $43 billion figure as the cost to the budget with the more probable one. And even when it has attempted to do so, the counter has always been - what happens if the bonds do not raise the money budgeted – won’t the taxpayer have to fork out? So the $43 billion figure persists, notwithstanding the fact that is almost certainly not what taxpayers will have to pay.

On Lateline on 29 September Tony Jones tried to resolve this issue in Malcolm Turnbull in Conroy, Turnbull clash over NBN cost

“TONY JONES: If private investors put up $16 billion of the total cost of $43 billion, that's their risk, isn't it?

“MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, it's actually the taxpayers' risk because their loans will be secured on the assets and undertaking of the NBN Co; the taxpayer, the Federal Government, will be the equity owner, it will have $26 billion ranking behind the debt, so that if the company gets into trouble, it will be the Federal Government, the taxpayers, that will lose money. I mean, I think everybody understands this. What Stephen is saying is that he believes the company can attract some private borrowing.”


So with a flurry of words Malcolm casts doubt on the prospect of investors stumping up the $16 billion with a wave of his imperious hand. It’s easy for him to do that and insist that the taxpayer still takes the risk!

Obfuscation reigns supreme.

The cost to the householder will be excessive
The next argument is that the cost of the rollout to the householder is too high. How is that calculated? Seemingly by dividing the number of households in Australia into the ‘$43 billion price tag’! Ashghebranious has written a nice dissection of this arithmetic in his piece: Infrastructure: the need for a NBN.  He makes an interesting comparison of the benefit of the NBN with the benefit that would have accrued from Tony Abbott’s offer of $1 billion to Andrew Wilkie for a new hospital in Hobart. I won’t repeat his reasoning here. Do read what he has to say.

The figures bandied around about the cost per household range from $4,000 to $5,000 to as high as $7,000 offered by the Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim Helu. How are the figures so different? How are they calculated? Ask the authors. On Lateline on 29 September Tony Jones asked this of Malcolm Turnbull in the same interview Conroy, Turnbull clash over NBN cost. Here’s the exchange:

“TONY JONES: Well, hang on a sec! Hold on, hold on, hold on. You've raised the question of the costs per household, Malcolm Turnbull. Now, I think you've written it'll be $4,000 per household. Tony Abbott says it'll be $5,000 per household. The visiting Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu says it'll be $7,000 per household. Who's right?

“MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, I mean, you can just work it out. You can divide through the number of households by 40 - divide the number of households into $43 billion and you get the answer.

“TONY JONES: Well, no, you don't. We actually did that. Your figure, your $4,000 figure multiplied by 8.57 million households comes out at $34 billion, so I'm wondering how you came up with your figure to start with.

“MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, I'm not sure whether that - where that figure came from, but it's $43 billion over around - over around nine million households and businesses. So ...

“STEPHEN CONROY: But that's a completely false representation. This is investing in an asset that will last up to 40 years. If you take even Malcolm's $4,000 and stretch that across 40 years, it's about 13 cents a day.

“So, you can't say that you add up the whole total cost for asset that lasts up to 40 years and suddenly try and bemuse and trick ordinary Australians that that's the actual cost. This is an asset over 40 years, Tony! 13 cents a day!”


See how easy it is for politicians to play with the facts to produce the outcome that best suits their case. But how well does that inform the public?

You may wish to read the transcript of the whole interview here

A colossal white elephant
Then there is the ‘colossal white elephant’ charge that the Coalition makes, without any shred of justification. A white elephant is ‘an idiom for a valuable possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost, particularly cost of upkeep, is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth’. So the onus of proof here is that the usefulness of the NBN is not worth the cost. I have not heard any cogent case made for the NBN not being useful. Even the Coalition concedes it will be useful, but maintains that it could provide something useful enough at a much lesser cost. So the argument is that usefulness of the NBN does not warrant the cost. This argument is void since the potential of the NBN, while knowable to some extent and impressive though that is, it is not completely knowable. The Coalition seems unwilling to concede the potential of the NBN – it doesn’t suit its argument.

More obfuscation.

The clamour for a cost-benefit analysis and a business plan
Next there is the perennial argument that there has been no cost-benefit analysis or business plan. That’s what is said over and again.

According to Wikipedia, 'Cost-benefit analysis is a term that refers both to helping to appraise, or assess, the case for a project, programme or policy proposal, and an approach to making economic decisions of any kind. Under both definitions the process involves, whether explicitly or implicitly, weighing the total expected costs against the total expected benefits of one or more actions in order to choose the best or most profitable option. The formal process is often referred to as either CBA (Cost-Benefit Analysis) or BCA (Benefit-Cost Analysis).’ You may be interested to read more of what Wikipedia has to say about the ‘closely related, but slightly different, formal techniques include cost-effectiveness analysis, economic impact analysis, fiscal impact analysis and Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis.’  CBA is a very complex concept when applied to massive projects, although it’s represented as being so simple. So what analysis has been done? This is what Stephen Conroy had to say on Lateline about the $25 million, five hundred page McKinsey KPMG report:

“STEPHEN CONROY: Well, the McKinsey's report clearly demonstrates that there is a financially viable business case, that it will start earning positive income streams after about the seventh or eighth year in a way that will allow it to issue bonds. It's quite simple, it's straightforward and it's in the McKinsey's report.” Of course Malcolm Turnbull dismisses the report as ”…the most fanciful pieces of financial analysis you could imagine. It is a laughing stock right around the industry.” The imperious hand at work again.

What about a ‘business plan’. Again Wikipedia has a definition: ‘A business plan is a formal statement of a set of business goals, the reasons why they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals.’ Is that as complicated as those who demand a business plan imply? Is the five hundred-page Implementation Plan prepared by McKinsey KPMG a ‘business plan/case’? It seems to fit the definition. In any case, NBN Co says it has a plan (which is commercial-in-confidence) and on Lateline Stephen Conroy said: “…we spent $25 million on a McKinsey's report into the business case which went through all of this information. It provided a business case that said the NBN is financially viable and affordable for Australians.”

So is there a business plan/case or not? Has a cost-benefit analysis been done? It depends on who you ask!

Let’s have a look at what our own NormanK had to say on this subject in a well-reasoned comment on a recent post:

“On the subject of the NBN, indulge me while I offer an analogy. First, let me make a semantic distinction between ‘cost’ and ‘outlay’. For the purposes of this post let us allow ‘cost’ to mean money put forward with no prospect of being directly recouped and ‘outlay’ to be an investment which might reasonably be seen to produce a monetary return.

“If I were to contemplate the purchase of a new computer because the latest model would be faster, more efficient and require less maintenance, I might do a cost-benefit analysis.

“Cost is pretty straightforward - for ease of handling let's say $2000 plus $100 interest on a loan to buy it. I might anticipate that I will get 5 years out of it before it starts to incur further costs in maintenance and upgrades. I could do some sums to calculate the benefits that I might be able to derive from my new toy such as less travel time, better security for on-line activities, faster speeds for processing work and so on. These sums would be very rubbery and any small shift in a single parameter (e.g. how often I use the computer) could alter the outcome. Let's say I reckon I can benefit to the tune of $1000 over the five year life of the computer. Now I have to decide whether a $1100 loss in cash terms (presuming the computer is worth nothing in re-sale value after five years) and an ambiguous $1000 gain in benefits is value for money.

“If however, I can find people who are willing to collectively pay $420 per year for access to my computer, by the end of five years I will have covered my outlay, including interest on my loan. What need then do I have for a cost-benefit analysis? My computer has cost me nothing to buy and I have accrued possibly $1000 in benefits.

“Seriously understated in the discussion of the NBN is the fact that although the outlay of taxpayers' money will be to the tune of $27 billion (according to NBN Co), the cost after fifteen years (according to the McKinsey Implementation Study) will be zero. On top of that will be the benefits:

“This is from the NBN Co website: ‘Access Economics states that adopting smart technologies in electricity, irrigation, health, transport and broadband could add more than 70,000 jobs to the economy in 2014 alone. It also predicts an increase in GDP by 1.5 per cent within ten years due to the same investments. Access Economics has based its research on a national Fibre-to-the-Node network and notes the benefits would be even more pronounced under the Fibre-to-the-Premises plan. Access Economics has predicted high speed broadband itself to increase the net present value of GDP by $8 - $23 billion over ten years and create 33,000 jobs (in the roll-out) by 2011.’ “

Norman goes on to quote an article from The Australian on August 19, 2010, Report trumpets benefits of NBN: "The research firm (Access Economics) was asked to uncover the impact of a high-speed broadband network on telemedicine for remote consultations, remote home-based monitoring of chronic-disease patients and the aged, and remote training of medical professionals (using haptics). At present some institutions, including some rural public hospitals, have access to the high-speed, high-capacity data connections needed for telehealth. However, with the NBN, small hospitals and medical centres, individual doctors and private homes will all be able to participate in telehealth. While many urban locations currently have high-speed broadband, usually upload speeds are much slower than download speeds, and reliability can be patchy. Both of these are substantial impediments to telehealth, which would be remedied by the NBN.''

Norman quotes from the Access Economics Report with regard to the financial and externality impacts of ubiquitous high-speed broadband on health and aged care costs: "Using a combination of a national level United States study into one aspect of tele-health (tele-consulting) and a national level Australian study that was mostly based on electronic health records but had tele-health components, Access Economics estimates that steady state benefits to Australia from wide scale implementation of tele-health may be in the vicinity of $2 billion to $4 billion per annum."

He continues: “Private money will be attracted to NBN Co through the sale of bonds once the build has reached a particular milestone and not via direct private investment. The Implementation Study strongly recommends against direct inputs of private investment money until at least five years after the build is complete because private money and the obligations to shareholders which accompany it would compromise the government's ability to legislate laws which maintain a level playing field for wholesale customers. This level playing field will also ensure that users pay a similar price per plan regardless of deployment costs. This is something which no private enterprise could get past its board or shareholders. The idea that city folk are subsidising rural folk or that the private company is not seeking a flat rate of return on outlay costs would be anathema to them. However, the government can do it.”

He quotes from Lateline on September 29 NBN faces litmus test in Tasmania a comment about a user in Midway Point: "He's paying $75 a month for faster speeds, telephone and 40 gigabytes of downloads - $25 dollars less than his previous connection costs.”

And later: "HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: ...... so just how much of the NBN's potential is being harnessed at the moment?

“MARTIN GOULD, SORRELL COUNCIL: Not a great deal. We're basically running it on a trial basis. ... We've only had the connection on for about two weeks. It's certainly faster than our previous internet connection. We're paying less money at the moment, so, it's early days for us."


Norman concludes: “There may be shortcomings in the NBN scheme but cost is not one of them and the benefit of 93% of users having access to similar speeds (both up and down) for a similar price is surely a worthy one.”

Criticisms around cost-benefit and business plans seem to be wildly exaggerated.

Technological gobbledegook
Finally, let’s look at just one more point of contention – the technological aspect. Opponents of the NBN insist the technology will be out of date by the time it is built and they make fun of the notion of users dragging a cable around instead of using mobile wireless technology. That is just silly. Wireless technology will be used indefinitely and is actually part of the NBN plan for those areas that will not be serviced by fibre cable. Of course mobile phones, iPads and the like will be serviced by wireless – to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. What is known though is that as the load on the wireless network increases, speed slows, and it becomes increasingly incapable of handling the traffic and large uploads and downloads.

What fibre technology does so well is to enable fast upload speeds for large files, an essential feature for medical, educational and commercial applications, which is currently lacking with existing technology. Some aspects of fibre technology will not be outmoded – the speed of light will not change. But new technologies will enhance, not diminish the capacity of the fibre network. No one has ever shown how it will be outmoded – that is simply claptrap that sounds plausible enough to those who don’t understand these things.

One could go on, but this is sufficient to demonstrate how readily each side of the debate can select facts that seem to support its case, how omission of salient facts can mislead, how reports can be selectively used to argue whatever point one desires, how almost everyone contributing to the debate chooses to reveal only part of the story, either deliberately to mislead, or from sheer ignorance. There seems to be no neutral source that has given a balanced and complete appraisal of the NBN proposal. Most commentators seem to have vested interests that distort what they say. What we need is an academic organization to fill the void, if indeed it is possible to find unbiased academics to inform us.

This piece does not purport to fill the void. I have said what I believe in Would Tony Abbott really be stupid enough to trash the NBN?  This current piece simply highlights the confusion that has arisen from the misinformation, incomplete information, uniformed comment, and downright deception, politically or commercially motivated, that has characterized the NBN debate. We the people deserve better. Why can’t we get it?

So whenever someone – a journalist, a politician, an ‘expert’, a friend over coffee or a mate at the pub – makes an ‘authoritative’ statement about the NBN, insist they provide the firm evidence, not the hearsay, to back their assertion. That should stop a lot of waffle.

What do you think?

For those of you who are not yet satiated, there are many more pieces on the NBN, which you can find in LYN’S LINKS SEPTEMBER 2010, especially in the 22 September batch and in LYN'S DAILY LINKS today, 7 October.

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Michael

7/10/2010Misinformation is the technique used by the Coalition and the government's opponents in general to attack them. Blurring the issue, obscuring the facts, and then going the man - minister, Prime Minister, bureaucrat. That's the approach taken every time. And best of all for the attackers, it means they don't even have to understand or research the details and reality of Government policy. An approach which suits the ignorant-by-preference - and that, from the top down, is the Abbott Coalition.

lyn

7/10/2010Hi Ad Thankyou, so much for your wonderful, brilliant, fabulous, article on the NBN. We continue to be spoilt by you Ad, even when you are on holidays. Most of today's spam came this morning in one hit, we managed fine Ad please don't worry on your holidays. The Coalition are going to continue to trash the NBN which makes me sad. This is one Policy the country needs the support from the Opposition. Everytime I see Abbott and his bully boy, awful appproach he has to everything, I think of Kim Beasley and remember what a wonderful, reasonable, educated, sensible, dignified, gentlemanly, leader of the Opposition he was. I hope you and your lovely wife enjoy Cairns, we trust the weather is still wonderful, as it is in Hervey Bay. Have fun, be safe, hear you soon. Cheers

jj

7/10/2010If it is so good why hasnt a cost benefit analysis been done?

Ad astra reply

7/10/2010Michael Thank you for your pertinent comments. You are right – the deliberate use of misinformation is a well-tried propaganda technique which Goebbels used so successfully. And as you say, it requires no research of the subject, because all one has to do is make it up.

Ad astra reply

7/10/2010Lyn Thank you for your kind and reassuring comments. I’m pleased that at least via the hotel network I was able to access [i]TPS[/i] which will keep me going until Tuesday when we start back for Melbourne. Whether I can get the Next G connection to work again by then, I don’t know. As you say, Kim Beasley was so different to Tony Abbott – like chalk and cheese. Tony will never be like Kim. The weather here in Cairns is fine and sunny and the waters of the marina outside our window glistening. We’re off now to a conference luncheon and then to get some iPad and car repairs done, so we won’t be back until this afternoon. I hope the sun keeps shining in Hervey Bay.

Ad astra reply

7/10/2010jj I suggest you read the piece again.

Min

7/10/2010Ad astra..I had to smile. The same argument was used against the Snowy Mountain Scheme. No one would ever have the need for all that electricity or all that water.

Min

7/10/2010Just to add. Turnbull was trying to create "a fear campaign" stating (shock, horror) that this NBN thingy would cost householders..wait for it...$65.00 per month. Reminds me of a line from one of those silly Austin Powers movies where Dr Evil wanted to ransom the world for a million dollars. The reply is that 1 million dollars isn't exactly a large amount of money these days.

George Pike

7/10/2010Good on you for keeping up your support for the NBN AA. I did exactly as you asked at the end of your entry and emailed the ABC's northern Tasmanian radio service this morning. I was fed up with the way that their commentators just haul things back out of the bag and run with them as if they are brand new issues. The discussion in the media over the NBN rollout during the election campaign was extensive...yet this morning a commentator was running it as if she'd never heard of it before. I told her in my email that the ABC was showing complete ignorance by allowing Turnbull to run his spiel without question, despite the fact that every single point he constantly refers to has been convincingly trashed over the past few months and that the people in the Tasmanian IT industry must be pulling their hair out over the ABC's refusal to acknowledge that fact. Every single point made against the NBN by Turnbull and the rest of the anti-NBN mob has been explained away in tiny detail by experts who know what they are talking about...and they've done it on the same show that now runs those same worthless arguments over and over again. What has brought it back to the surface this time is the fact that the Tasmanian government has now decided to make the NBN connection an opt out system, rather than the opt in which is in place now. That makes concrete sense as, over the course of time the NBN will become a vital part of the social infrastructure and, if homes are connected now, even if they don't use it right away, there will not be that considerable cost to connect them individually later on. Turnbull has been running lies ad nauseum since that announcement was made. He stated that it proves that the business model is wrong if it requires "compulsory" adoption by society. (His Liberal colleagues in Tasmania, on the other hand, are crowing about how they thought of the opt out paradigm first!) That is garbage, as the box just sits on your wall, there is no compulsion to make use of it what so ever...and it can just be used as a phoneline if that's all you want anyway...it's still free to connect, you just pay your telco fees and that's it. The phones using the NBN cable are reliant on power to work, but so are ALL the current handsfree phone units anyway. Simple battery powered back-up boxes will obviously be provided to ensure that full phone connectivity is retained during power blackouts. Another of his arguments relates to the cost. The Tasmanian government has guaranteed that the cost of broadband services will be much lower than they currently are and this is being borne out by the charges currently in place for NBN users right now. The far superior service will also mean that people won't mind paying a bit more anyway. I would imagine that the government would subsidise pensioners and low income earners for their connection fee part of the contracts anyway...so there's $30 a month off the top right from the start. Then Turnbull goes on about the viability of the NBN into the future. There is no other technology that has even been dreampt of that allows just for 1gbps download tranfer rates, net alone upload as well. Those speeds allow for a vast array of technologically complicated operations to be undertaken that would otherwise be impossible under the present systems and with any foreseeable systems involving wireless technologies into the future. There is also the skyrocketting price of copper. Thieves are already stealing huge amounts of critical wiring from communication infrastucture systems around the world. The NBN cable is worthless for any other purpose and has very little material value. So even Turnbulls Pott's Point systems are in danger of being destroyed by thieves..and wouldn't that just be a perfectly apt occurrence too! So there you go then! Turnbull's oppositional positions are obsolete to say the least...no doubt he and his media mates will continue the worthless diatribe well into the electoral cycle to try and win over the dummies out there. At least we will be able to sleep very soundly knowing we are very much on the right side of this argument at any rate!

D Mick Weir

7/10/2010jj are you able to point me to where I will find the Liberal Party's Cost Benefit Analysis of their proposed broadband plan? I can't recall seeing, or hearing of, a CBA for the massive infrastructure spend that they were proposing. I am sure there must be one somewhere as, after all, a Cost Benefit Analysis is, as you so rightly know, an essential part of any infrastructure proposal. In the highly unlikely case that there was no analysis done you might like to do some research to explain why. This post could be helpful: http://aussieobserver.blogspot.com/2010/09/non-sequitur-in-treasurys-approach-to.html You might also find some helpful information in this post to help explain why an opposition would not need to do something that is so important: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/09/17/cost-benefit-delusions-of-the-nbn/

janice

7/10/2010D Mick Weir, JJ wouldn't understand a Cost Benefit Analysis anyway. The "CBA" and "White elephants" are simply words used by a technology ignorant, selfish and muddleheaded man the Coalition chose for a leader. If they are looking for white elephants they need look no further than one, Tony Abbott. Ad astra, IMHO the NBN would be cheap at any price as a piece of priceless infrastructure that will benefit this nation for generations to come. Malcolm Turnbull is intelligent enough to know this but, like his stance on Climate Change, he is towing the Abbott line and making a bloody fool of himself in the process. All Abbott and his croneys have is negative slogans and there is definitely a dearth of grey matter in the collective heads of the opposition front bench. All I can say is that this country got lucky with Windsor and Oakeshott who saw the Coalition rabble for what it is - a lying, deceitful bunch of no-hopers - and backed Labor to form government.

CALLIGULA

7/10/2010Dear Ad Astra, What I say below may have some bearing on your recent comms glitches while away from your home base. I’m not suggesting ‘reds under the bed’ or similar, but consider - The big deal about installing and operating a fibre-optic communications system is never mentioned. Any system that produces EMF or electromagnetic radiation (copper, wireless, etc.) can easily be intercepted and/or monitored. Fibre-optic systems generate and transmit photons and even the ancillary electronics involved usually require some sort of ‘bug’ to be physically connected to the hardware in order to interfere with or spy upon it. Once that fact is realized everything else about the system, cost, reliability, signal density, is just plus-plus-plus. There has been some talk on these pages that gives fair indication of concern about interference with freedom of speech. Such talk in some cases seems to align with the individual’s political persuasion. This author cannot understand why some of the conservative persuasion seem to want to stick with a communications system that limits them to using comms systems that leaves them open to being spied upon or jammed.

D Mick Weir

7/10/2010janice, cheers, you are right, I just couldn't help myself. I was stuck in the mode of [i]"What is good for the Goose is good for the Gander"[/i]. Ad thanks for pulling that all together. It is difficult when complex policy is being dbated to get a clear and unobstructed view of it all, the more so when the benefits may be years away and there are so many unknowns but, in part, that is why we have the political process to sift through it all and present a simple and understandable case for doing such things. Idealistic maybe, but that is what we pay our elected representatives for to consider on our behalf proposals to build a better life for us and our grandkids.

CALLIGULA

7/10/2010Oh, with reference, my last – I forgot to mention that comprehensive, secure communications, as is offered by the government’s project, is a prime defence asset and therefore should come out of the defence budget. Perhaps that’s the reason for all the humbuggery and misinformation?

lyn

7/10/2010Hi George Thankyou so much for your well thoughtout interesting, very worthy comment, a most enjoyable read. Good on you for complaining to the ABC for [quote]allowing Turnbull to run his spiel without question, [/quote] You guys are very lucky to be first with the NBN, I notice without looking or hearing, there is very little said on the news about Tasmania's rollout of the NBN.

NormanK

7/10/2010Ad astra Thanks for another great piece. To my considerable joy and no small amount of relief, the main thrust of your argument is that we should continue to keep an open mind on the NBN even if we instinctively wish to support it. There are almost certainly going to be some shortcomings in the scheme - duplication of infrastructure is a good example. The current arguments against the NBN are based on spurious assumptions and fear-generating slogans, as you point out, most glaringly exemplified by what you called the "imperious waving of hands" which apparently is all that is required to dismiss the $25 million Implementation Study. There is a point on which I have to disagree with you - [quote]There seems to be no neutral source that has given a balanced and complete appraisal of the NBN proposal.[/quote] The McKinsey Report is a full and exhaustive study of the "idea" of a FTTH network with the only qualifications being that they were never asked if it was a "good" idea or what the benefits might be to society and the economy. They were asked 'is it possible for around $43 billion and if so, what would be the best way of going about doing it?" The answer - "yes it's possible for that amount of money or less; it should be able to pay for itself; and here's four hundred pages of how to go about it." What was//is needed is for someone to draft another document laying out in simple language the main thrust of the Study whilst at all times referring back to the Study for verification of detail. This is what I tried to do in relation to the sections I had read up to the point of posting. Thanks for the repairs, by the way. It is a complex document full of contingency plans and technical detail but surely someone at NBN Co who understands both finance and hi-tech could cobble something together. It is a shortcoming of this government that it is unable to advocate its plans in ways which the average voter can understand. From what I have read so far, the Study is very cautious in laying out what it thinks are the best time-lines for the injection of private investment via a bonds release. It is conceivable that in the very worst case scenario of NBN Co falling over at just the right (wrong) time after the bond release, the taxpayer may be at risk of some extra cost but the Study seeks to avoid this by ensuring that revenue streams and capital equipment have reached a point where the debt incurred would be offset. Conroy has displayed an attitude which seems to be rampant among Senior Labor MPs which precludes them from saying anything that might generate a negative headline that they might not be able to repudiate without offering a detailed (and therefore, boring to the media) counter-argument. Hence, his skirting of the subject during the Lateline interview from which you quoted. May I elaborate a little on the gobbledegook aspect. As you say, the idea that fibre is being put up by the government as an alternative to wireless is a complete nonsense but on top of this, little has been made of the fact that having all of this wonderful fibre laying around is going to bring about an explosion in the expansion and quality of wireless right across the country. Where a private telco may have been reluctant to expand its wireless service due to prohibitive back-haul costs, in some cases NBN Co will provide this infrastructure but more importantly, the private telcos will only have to put in short runs in order to tap into the NBN. This is part of the Coalition's plan also except that they were going to hand over billions in incentives with no prospect of a direct return. In the future, small users, such as yourself for example, will use a mixture of mobile and fixed technologies. When you go out into the world, you will exploit your relatively expensive mobile scheme and when you come home you will plug into your cheaper, faster landline. I have no trouble envisaging a "mixed" plan being made available in the not-too-distant future. A final point. The media love black & white with no grey in between and at present the Coalition is exploiting this fact. According to them, the NBN is either a not-for-profit government infrastructure project (MY GOD, look at the COST) OR it is a business venture (where's your CBA mate?). It doesn't suit either of them to believe that there is a middle-ground where a piece of infrastructure can be built in the public interest AND pay for itself or even turn a modest profit. CALLIGULA I am so glad you mentioned the unsafe nature of wireless which has not had a single mention in this debate. The fuss kicked up by Google's scanning of private information should have been a warning to everyone that what you do on-line via wireless is not secure. I could purchase the means by which I could spy on all of my neighbours thereby accruing personal and private information which I could put to all sorts of unsavoury uses. As you also mention, jamming such signals would be a piece of cake - talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Hillbilly Skeleton

7/10/2010The sooner someone does a side by side analysis of the Coalition IT/Broadband policy and the NBN, the better. As far as I can tell, not even the Coalition have calculated how much it would cost to put thousands upon thousands of Wireless transmission towers across the country, plus the cost of Satellite infrastructure needed to equate with the coverage that the NBN will achieve. Not to mention the COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS jj when the maximum speed that the Coalition have promised, and what it is capable of achieving, is compared with all that the 1Gbps will achieve, as you have outlined above, AA. Of course, the Coalition never mentions the Triple Bottom Line effects for Rural and Regional Australia that will eventuate when they get the simple benefits that we in the cities enjoy of being able to watch ABC Online transmissions of press Conferences and the like in real time, plus having access to downloadable movies and TV shows from overseas. Not to mention more cultural pursuits like subscribing to a vodcast of the London Philharmonc Orchestra concerts, and the like, or Google TV, which was just announced yesterday. As you say, AA, the possibilities are endless, and we are only at the very beginning of our journey with Ultra Fast Broadband. It will transform our society forever, and if the Coalition want to condemn this country to being the 'Poor White Trash of Asia', and its quarry, then by seeking to 'demolish' the NBN, they are going the right way about it. If we don't have it we will certainly be behind the 21st Century Eight Ball when it comes to the new business opportunities of the future.

Hillbilly Skeleton

7/10/2010Also I'd just like to contribute Stilgherrian's piece on the NBN from Crikey today, in which he demolishes Malcolm Turnbull's latest diatribe which has been disngenuously printed in the Fairfax newspapers today: 'Coalition objection to NBN opt-out is just scaremongering' Stilgherrian writes: “If Australian consumers want a fixed line for telephony or internet access, they are going to have to use NBN’s line -- like it or not,” wrote Malcolm Turnbull, opposition communications spokesperson, yesterday. My response to that is simple: so what? Yes, the Tasmanian government is introducing legislation to adopt an opt-out model for the remaining rollout of the National Broadband Network in that state. In other words, if you’re in the 93% coverage area, NBN fibre will be laid to your home or business unless you confirm in writing that you want to be excluded. “NBN Co will not require homeowner consent before connecting them to the network,” Turnbull said, and the media dutifully re-bleated. “Tasmanians will be forced into connecting to the national broadband network (NBN) unless they ‘opt-out’,” wrote Fairfax. Similar sentiments were expressed at The Australian and News.com.au -- the latter helpfully illustrating their story with a photograph of a huge yellow cable-laying machine, presumably poised to despoil gardens across the Apple Isle. Running through all of this is a glorious piece of fear mongering: the implication that householders will be forced to buy presumed-to-be-expensive communications services they don’t want. Which is rubbish, of course. Householders will continue to buy their telecommunications services from their chosen retail service provider (RSP), just as they do now. Voice telephony. Internet access fast or slow, high-volume or not. Alarm monitoring. Whatever. The RSP then provisions those services using the customer access network (CAN) that connects premises back to the exchange. That’s the Telstra-owned copper today -- “like it or not”, as Turnbull would say -- and NBN Co’s optical fibre tomorrow. It’s not really any of the customer’s business how the RSP delivers the service. They’re paying for a capability, and the rest is the RSP’s concern. After all, we don’t choose what kind of pipes our water supply comes in, and the water company replaces pipes with longer-lasting ones as required. Foxtel connects you to pay TV by coax cable or satellite dish at their discretion. Also widely reported was Turnbull’s re-statement of that curious opposition talking point: that the NBN’s business plan depends on “the elimination of competing technologies”. “The move adds compulsion to Labor’s existing plans to shut down competing fixed line technologies (such as Telstras’ [sic] copper network, or voice and broadband delivered over HFC pay TV cables),” he wrote. What Turnbull seems to be suggesting is that we continue to run two or more CANs in parallel, with the obvious inefficiencies of maintenance and management. Presumably this is simply so the Coalition can leverage the 'my home is my castle get off my lawn shotgun shack' mentality into marginal-electorate votes. Turnbull is suggesting that as we upgrade the CAN from copper to fibre we don’t do it as efficiently as possible, with the last-block fibre bundles pre-made in a factory to fit precisely and installed in one efficient operation. Instead, we should let the process drag out for years, possibly decades. As each new home crosses over from copper to fibre, another work team hits the streets to field-splice the cable. 'Choice' and 'competition' are magic words in modern politics, especially for the Coalition. But basic infrastructure doesn’t work that way. We don’t build duplicate water reticulation, sewers, roads and electricity grids in the name of competition, and a telecommunications CAN is no different.'

Hillbilly Skeleton

7/10/2010I'd also like to reiterate the tidbit of information that was in Crikey(I think) the other day that the other large Telco, Optus, is on the verge of signing a 'Heads of Agreement' with NBNCo to fold its infrastructure into the company and bring its customers with it. This will again reduce the end 'Cost' of the NBN, as Telstra's inclusion has, and 'Benefit' the system even more.

NormanK

7/10/2010On a more serious note. [b][u]The Right Honourable Tony Abbott Wows World Leaders With His Wit & Charm[/u][/b] Barack Obama - President of the United States of America "So how many of your staff get to call you "Massa"? Aha. Aha. Ahahahaha. It was a joke! What is it with you commies that you can't take a joke?" Stephen Harper - Prime Minister of Canada "How is it, working for Obama? He's got a really crappy sense of humour don't you think? Aha. Aha. You heard about that? Yeah, I KNOW he's black. Doesn't mean he can't have a laugh though does it?" Felipe Calderón - President of Mexico "You don't know where I can put my hands on some speed, do you? This jet-lag is killing me." Jacob Zuma - Prime Minister of South Africa "I've gotta say I think that was pretty slack of Mandala. He couldn't be bothered to get out of bed to open the World Cup. You'd reckon after all that time in prison, he'd be keen to get outdoors a bit more." Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva - President of Brazil "This country will be remembered in perpetuity for the great gift you have given the world. My wife's looks like a hedgerow though. Heh heh." Hu Jintao - President of China " What did you think of Julia? She's not a [b]real[/b] redhead you know? Yeah, a bit tall for you, eh. Aha. Aha. Ahahahahaha." Naoto Kan - Prime Minister of Japan "I hope this whale meat was slaughtered scientifically. Oh. It's dolphin. Yummy. Aha. Aha. Is it true what they say about Japanese women? No. No. Of course not." Lee Myung-bak - President of South Korea "If you have any trouble with the Chinese, just let me know and I'll cut off their ........ iron ore. I'm the Iron Man of South-East Asia and no little slant-eye is gonna push me around. Aha. Ahahahahaha. Present company and all that." Manmohan Singh - Prime Minister of India " That was a close call with the Games. Did you consider calling for some help from Britain? We Aussies weren't worried though. We're used to smelly dunnies and snakes in our beds." Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - President of Indonesia "Bambang! Ahahahahahahaha. Bambang! Ahahahahahahaha! Wilmaaaaaaaa!! Aha, aha, ahahahahahaha! Bambang! This country has got a great sense of humour." King Abdullah - King of Saudi Arabia "Wanta beer? Go on it's good Australian beer not that pommie rubbish. One beer won't hurt ya will it?" Vladmir Putin - Prime Minister of Russia "Race you 'round Red Square! Last one back to the Kremlin is a pussy. Aha. Aha. What? [b]влагалище[/b]. What? Vagina? Must have lost something in the translation. Aha. Aha. Ah." Robert Mugabe - President of Zimbabwe " All these guys with machine guns and machetes are here for my protection, right? Right? Aha. Aha. Do you reckon Morgan is getting more action since his wife died? So you probably did him a favour." Nicolas Sarkozy - President of France "So, she's a bit of a goer is she? Likes a bit of fun does she? Know what I mean? Know what I mean? Savoir ce que je veux dire? Nudge nudge, wink wink. Say no more. Ahahahahahahaha. (to camera) [i]Lucky lucky bastard[/i]." David Cameron - Prime Minister of Great Britain "You've known Malcolm Turnbull for a long time, was he always such a soft-c**k? Aha. Aha. Ahem. Did the climate just change in this room?" Angela Merkel - Chancellor of Germany (Whilst on a tour of a revitalised business district) "Geez, you guys did alright out of the war didn't you? Heh. Heh. Do you reckon Adolf did a CBA?" Silvio Berlusconi - Prime Minister of Italy "What's the secret to getting to shag all these good-looking women? Is it the money? The power? The dental work? Or is the 'Italian Stallion' more than an urban myth? Really? Ooh. Me? What's the Italian word for badger? Only gammin'. Tyrannosaurus Rex mate. Tyranno-bloody-saurus Rex! Ahahahahahahahaha!"

George Pike

7/10/2010Thanks Lyn..and thanks HS...you have explained the intricacies of the interaction between existing infrastructure and the NBN rollout succinctly. Turnbull would be squirming uncomfortably in his gold plated undies under the pressure of the exposure of his deceitful explanations as nothing more than cantankerous filibuster. He must be feeling quite the fraud by now...the intelligentia are coming down upon his farcical position on the NBN enmasse now. Must really hurt someone who prides themselves as being a progressive elite to have to continue with the farce of being a backward luddite...

lyn

7/10/2010Oh! Norman K I just got home, refreshed "The Political Sword" page, and went Wow! Oh! Wow! when I saw your comment. How lucky am I today, thankyou so much, for an amazing enjoyable piece at 3.43pm, then I scroll down and here is another fantastic piece of writing 4.33pm, how come your so clever, thankyou again and again. cheers

lyn

7/10/2010Hi Hillbilly I had to go past your pieces to get to Norman K's second piece, and it was Wow! oh! Wow! again. Thankyou for your wonderful enjoyable pieces, you are amazing, Hillbilly, what would we do without you. Turnbull loves to talk, trying to fool people, well not people, but mainly the interviewer, with technical terminology, has he presented a Coalition Policy on the NBN.

Hillbilly Skeleton

7/10/2010NormanK, You're a card! And you can probably remember jokes all the way to the end as well. :)

Hillbilly Skeleton

7/10/2010George Pike, Amazing, isn't it, how the Coalition have latched onto the 'Opt Out' stance that the Tasmanian government have legislated for now. Then they fabricated a whole story around it. Talk about Desperate Dan. That should be Malcolm Turnbull's new name, don't you think?

Ad astra reply

7/10/2010Folks Thank you so much for your highly informative comments and for all the extra information you have furnished. If only the MSM would come up with such informed and thoughtful comment. CALLIGULA First, a warm welcome to the [i]TPS[/i] family. You have commented before – we hope you will return often. Your comments about online security are germane; I must say I had not previously considered this aspect. Regarding my own iPad problems the chap at the iShop here is Cairns showed us how to fix the intermittent behaviour of the iPad programmes. For those who have one, if it stops working properly, try holding down simultaneously the on/off button on the side of the iPad and the on/off button on the screen long enough until the iPad turns off, the turn it on again and hey presto all is restored. How any iPad user is expected initutively to know this trick is a mystery, but Apple has always relied on a high level of intuitive behaviour. Min, George Pike, M Dick Weir, janice, NormanK, HS and Lyn Thank you all for your kind comments and additions to the debate, so comprehensive and enlightening. You are turning this site into a rich source of information and understanding, which make such good reading for visitors here. NormanK – you wit matches your erudition. Thank you. I’m off to another conference function – I’ll be back later this evening.

Macca

7/10/2010[If it is so good why hasnt a cost benefit analysis been done?] If we did a cost/benefit analysis, in pure return of monetary investment terms, on children, no-one would have them.......but we do.

lyn

7/10/2010Hi Macca Good comment, have them we do, and the cost is enormous, for a very long, long, time, a lifetime really.

Hillbilly Skeleton

7/10/2010jj, Do you remember asking for a Cost Benefit Analysis to be provided for the Ghan Railway? If not, why not? We need to be consistent in our arguments if we are to be taken seriously.

George Pike

7/10/2010Ask your ISP to block access to the site by addresses ending in .org AA...you might be able to do it yourself being the administrator of the site.

Hillbilly Skeleton

7/10/2010Or, we could follow in America's footsteps, as the Coalition advocates every now and again, as it is the 'Home of Free Enterprise', which is the only path to follow, according to them(I mean, you wouldn't want to go down Labor's 'Socialist' path would you?) : http://www.alternet.org/story/148397/how_the_phone_companies_are_screwing_america%3A_the_%24320_billion_broadband_rip-off?page=entire

Hillbilly Skeleton

7/10/2010In the interests of fairness and balance in this debate, here is a comment piece about the NBN from an IT industry expert with a conservative, in the true sense of the word, point of view: http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/NBN-Malcolm-Turnbull-broadband-Australia-network-p-pd20101007-9YUDX?OpenDocument&src=pmm

Ad astra reply

7/10/2010HS Thank you for the links – interesting reading. Malcolm Turnbull will further tarnish his reputation as a communications expert and a businessman if he persists with using insufficient information and flawed logic in an attempt to build a plausible case against the NBN. He would be better advised to build a well-argued case for the Coalition proposal, if indeed that is possible. He seems to be pursuing a political objective rather than a telecommunications one with strong business underpinnings. Macca Good analogy. George I’ll check out that possibility on my return. Packing it in for the night now.

D Mick Weir

7/10/2010Ad, After re-reading your post I have been inspired to search and delve to find some intelligent and cogent arguments against the NBN. There are any number of articles that state some case for the negative but, as you stated, they [i]"... demonstrate how readily each side of the debate can select facts that seem to support its case, ..."[/i] Peter Martin has been a sceptic on this for some time and has some very pertinent articles. Somewhere in one of the many posts (that I can't find now) Martin points out that just maybe we have been 'sold a pup' by James Packer and Rupert Murdoch who were pushing better and faster broadband to suit their own commercial interests by having the taxpayer fund the infrastructure they wanted to expand their empires!!!! One post that shows up the pitfalls of investing in the technology of the moment: http://www.petermartin.com.au/2008/06/tuesday-column-why-senator-conroy.html speaks of Canberra's Black Mountain Tower and it's importance in the 'National Microwave Network' and how microwave transissions become redundant shortly after completion of the tower. It is worth reading all of the article and the comments as it illustates the problem of selective use of 'facts'. There is a very interesting comment from Andrew Leigh the then yet to be endorsed, and recently successful, Labor Party candidate for the ACT seat of Fraser. Sticking with Peter Martin his post [b]The NBN is a slowly Unfolding Disater[/b] http://www.petermartin.com.au/2010/09/nbn-is-slowly-unfolding-disaster.html has some very interesting and informative commentary and links. Again the comments are worth mining for further information. One of the posts linked in that article is by Peter Cox, [b]Top Ten Myths Behind Fibre Policy[/b], http://www.coxmedia.com.au/articles/121/top_ten_myths_behind_fibre_policy_by_peter_j._cox.html is well worth the read. Joshua Gans (also lnked in some of Martins posts) also has some very intersesting points. Overall out of my recent readings I can understand a case against the NBN funded by the taxpayer. In the end though, there a couple of related reasons for going ahead with the NBN: 1. It is a belated correction of the grave error Kim Beazley made by not separating the network from the retailing of services when Telecom was corpratised and, 2. My bitter experiences with the cavalier and predatory attitudes of Telstra in providing third rate internet services and killing off small ISP's.

Sir Ian Crisp

8/10/2010In support of Julia Gillard’s Citizens' Assembly on Climate • Posted by Ad astra on July 28, 2010 The above was the lead-in to a topic expressed so eloquently and authored by Ad Astra. It drew 186 comments mainly from Gillard’s Praetorian Guard consisting mainly of effusive guff. Shame was once again heaped on the MSM and in particular the scribes from the Murdoch stable for daring to suggest that the Citizens’ Assembly was a silly idea. “...Jooles is on to a definite winner here with her Citizens’ Assembly brainwave” was one comment. Another person said “I think Julia is correct that we must now go back to basics and again work to bring the people on board.” AA captured the general mood when he said “This is why we need a Citizen's Assembly to fashion simple messages people can understand.” Friday the 8th October arrived like a dark minatory cloud and will now replace Friday the 13th from this day on. Friday the 8th of October dished up: “Gillard's forum takes a dark shade of Green. Julia Gillard has buried her election promise to hold a citizens' assembly to discuss climate change.” The much vaunted Citizens’ Assembly will be replaced by a parliamentary committee. Perhaps the thought of the great unwashed getting their hands on the levers and actually delivering democracy was disturbing. I don’t feel sorry for AA or the many ALP marionettes who commented on AA’s topic. I do feel sorry for the Bird of Paradox because AA and the ALP marionettes will land on the Bird of Paradox with both (many?) feet over her backflip. AA and others told us the Citizens’ Assembly was a splendid initiative from a ‘moving forward’ political party so dumping the initiative will draw criticism. I can picture smoke coming from AA’s keyboard as he prepares to vilipend his idol. I know that AA will be keen to distance himself from the idea that he is in thrall to the ALP. AA, The Political Sword is your chosen instrument to wield without fear of favour. You are a tiger and you above everyone can lay claim to being impartial. GO GET ‘EM TIGER. Sir Ian Crisp...in the interests of balance.

lyn

8/10/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] [i]PING! PONG! Ashebranious, Ash's to Ashes[/i] Tony Abbott accuses the PM of politicizing Afghanistan. He does this by politicizing her Afghanistan trip. Again. Remember he already did that at the start of this game. http://ashghebranious.wordpress.com/ [i]Stay at Home, Piping Shrike[/i] benefits of power that only Prime Minsters can have. Sharing such limelight with an opposition leader, especially on her first visit as PM, seems like a strange act of generosity.. http://www.pipingshrike.com/ Kath and Kim do Europe, Crikey Abbott that he rejected the opportunity to visit the Afghan battlefront on' the way over The trip where he spent [b]15 minutes with the British PM[/b]. The trip where [b]he wasn’t invited to say even a few words to the Conservative Party conference..[/b] http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/10/07/crikey-says-kath-and-kim-do-europe/ [i]Rundle on Afghanistan, Guest Poster, larvatus Prodeo.[/i] Tony Abbott berates the prime minister for a war mishandled, mismanaged, etc, etc, we will wonder why she did not look past her clueless http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/10/07/rundle-on-afghanistan/ [i]Pseudonyms and Anonymity - a previously unpublished Case Study, Margaret Simons, The Content Makers[/i] [b]Yes, its more on Grog’s Gamut[/b]. point of difference between most reasonable people in this debate is one of where to draw the line, rather than one of fundamental principle. http://blogs.crikey.com.au/contentmakers/ [i]Tony Abbott’s Amazing New Skill: ‘Slug Whisperer’, Values Australia[/i] Jolly (“the Joke”) Hockey seems to be participating in a medical experiment to determine the [b]link between stress and stupidity[/b], the speed and extent to which desperation and disappointment deplete brain cells. http://valuesaustralia.com/blog/?p=4982 [i]The Confidence vs The Con, Ashghebranious, Ash's to Ashes[/i] The Coalition was still predicting doom and gloom! Now they were predicting that the communists were coming! That the Greens would destroy our lifestyle and our businesses. The papers followed their lead like bleating sheep in an echo filled canyon. http://ashghebranious.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/the-confidence-vs-the-con/#comment-87 [i]The IMF makes sense, We are all Dead[/i] In recent days the IMF has publicly argued that “markets need to end their addiction to credit ratings”. They suggest: http://mattcowgill.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/the-imf-makes-sense/ [i]New Media and the right whingers, Massivespray, Spray of the Day[/i] more rounded take on the various news items of the day, though usually the MSM’s idea of “news” stretch the bounds of credulity…handbags and earlobes anyone? http://sprayoftheday.wordpress.com/ [i]Kinder, gentler? Welcome back to the nasty old paradigm , Mike Carlton, SMH[/i] behave like bikies in a beer garden brawl, with interminable points of order, shouted abuse, a constant uproar of urgency and no-confidence motions. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/kinder-gentler-welcome-back-to-the-nasty-old-paradigm-20100910-154v5.html BROADBAND NBN: [i]National Broadband Network (NBN) Research. Paul, Budde Com.[/i] Since the financial crisis began many governments around the world have looked at ways to use infrastructure investments to stimulate the economy. Broadband infrastructure offers a multiplier investment effect http://www.budde.com.au/Research/National-Broadband-Network-NBN.aspx [i]Will NBN be faster than a carrier pigeon? Brian, Larvatus Prodeo[/i] The UN Report A 2010 Leadership Imperative: The Future Built on Broadband gives this handy table of download speeds: http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/10/08/will-nbn-be-faster-than-a-carrier-pigeon/ [i]Turnbull opts out of new NBN paradigm, Renai LeMay, Delimeter[/i] But Turnbull – who is continuing his push for the Government to undertake a cost/benefit analysis into the NBN – wasn’t quite as positive. http://delimiter.com.au/2010/10/07/turnbull-opts-out-of-new-nbn-paradigm/ [i]Plan to put all Tassie on NBN, Michelle Paine, Tasmanian Mercury[/i] Already more than half the households and businesses in the first three Smart Towns [Midway Point, Scottsdale and Smithton] have accepted a connection to optic fibre. That's a good early result. http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2010/10/07/177495_tasmania-news.html [i]Coalition objection to NBN opt-out is just scaremongering, Stilgherrian, Crikey[/i]Running through all of this is a glorious piece of fear mongering: the implication that householders will be forced to buy presumed-to-be-expensive communications services they don’t want. http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/10/07/coalition-objection-to-nbn-opt-out-is-just-scaremongering/ [i]Curbing the NBN's cost, Andrew Harris, Business Spectator[/i] It’s time for Turnbull to stop trying to discredit the business case and put forward [b]a sensible alternative beyond the Coalition’s election plan[/b], stimulating real debate that can get to the optimum NBN solution for the country. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/NBN-Malcolm-Turnbull-broadband-Australia-network-p-pd20101007-9YUDX?opendocument&src=rss

Hillbilly Skeleton

8/10/2010D Mick Weir, I love your Gravatar! Kittehs always find the warm spots, as if by magic. :) As for your references to Peter Martin, might I say a couple of things. Firstly, he is an Economist, the 'Dismal Science', and as such he will probably be looking for 'Dry' economics arguments to attack the NBN. Which is his right and his job. However I believe he is overlooking and doesn't 'get' the emotional dividends that the NBN will provide to the Bush and the Regions. The 'Triple Bottom Line' that I like to speak of. It may not make economic sense but it sure as hell makes emotional well-being sense. And, at the end of the day, isn't that what government's are sent in to do? Improve the well-being of its citizens even if it doesn't entirely stack up economically? I just think Peter Martin is being a bit parsimonious in his assessment of the NBN. I think his attitude can be summed up as, 'An Economist would say that wouldn't he?' Which is his right and duty, I just happen to disagree with it. Now, to the argument about Murdoch and Packer wanting the NBN to go ahead for selfish reasons. As far as I have found out, Murdoch and Packer don't want the NBN, as constituted by the ALP federal government, to go ahead because it threatens their monopoly of the Pay TV market, which relies on the present paradigm going forward, whereby they target a market and play to it and ask people to pay for their service. It would be the case that if the NBN goes ahead they would no longer have the market cornered and would thus become just another player on the field, along with everyone else offering content, some even offering the same content for free. So it goes against their financial interests to be for the NBN I would surmise.

Hillbilly Skeleton

8/10/2010Sir Ian, Have you heard of the ABC Board? It has members of the Public, the 'Great Unwashed', on it. Pretty much as I would have imagined the Citizens Climate Change Committee would have come about. Nevertheless derision and mocking from the likes of you and others in the media ensured that the idea was stillborn before it ever was given life. That's politics and that's the harsh reality that the PM had to face. However, go ahead, have your little dig. These things seem to float your boat. Petty and pitiful.

Ad astra reply

8/10/2010LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/Lyns-Daily-Links.aspx Thanks Lyn for the NBN links that add so much to the current piece.

jj

8/10/20101. The coalitions plan for broadband delivery for rural and regional areas was/is going to deliver the same speeds expected by the Labor Party's network. 2. The coalitions plan would have delivered the backbone fibre network around Australia, with the private sector pretty well doing the rest. Through regulation and incentives the Coalition would have made it possible and profitable for telcos to provide high speed services to those in regional communities. 3. $43 billion dollars is the biggest public infrastructure spend ever. If anything goes wrong and the take up rate is less than 80-90% (which is what most telco experts say is needed for NBN co to be profitable), than any of the losses will have to be re-coped by the taxpayer. 4. This praposal relise heavily on the private sector to provide over half of the cash needed to build the network, and without a thorough cost benefit analysis, or business plan having been done the risks to private investors are huge, and therefor the expected private investment in the project may fall well short. If you go to a bank and ask for them to invest in your business, they require you to provide them the information that proves that they are not at risk of losing money. They ask for a business plan and often proof that your business is cost effective; the private sector should not be treated any differently, in fact more work should be done in lessening the risks, as it is private funds we are talking about, not banks funds. 5. We are creating a monopoly, a total conflict of interest situation. The government controls all regulation in the industry and also the major provider of the service. If new technologies emerge over the next 40 years (which they almost certainly will) than the government will have the control to stop any such technologies from entering Australia as they have a major interest in making sure that their technology has a total monopoly, as they must have take up rates that generate profits to pay for the network and also to pay the private investors. You all say how much you hate telstra...well you are about to meet telstra's big brother. 6. The mentality, 'build it than they will come' is just absurd government thinking. For investors to feel confident to invest in the NBN they must be shown that their investment will give them the returns they want, here and now. When making investment decisions, people do not invest large sums of money hoping that if they invest suddenly things that dont even exist yet will start to emerge. You have got to remember that we here in Australia will have some of the fastest speeds in the western world The Australian market is not a big one, so why would an American think tank try and produce ideas capable of being used with our fast broadband when it cant be used in their country, or in most other countries/markets around the world? Money drives innovation. 7. If it is the best way to deliver equitable and fast broadband to Australia; If it is a full proof plan; than why is the government so scared to do a major cost-benefit-analysis to determine that the governments way is the right way. If the analysis comes back positive than investors that may have been tentative before will invest in greater numbers, and the arguments will end. if the analysis comes back negative, than this government will have been shown for what it is, a bunch of economic vandals willing to spend $43 billion of taxpayers money, when we could have got equal/greater results by spending a hell of a lot less; without creating a new monopoly and without preventing the emergence of new technologies in the future. Government doesnt always know best. If you give the private sector the tools to do a job, they will do it, more efficiently, more effectively, and at their risk not the taxpayers. What are your views on water policy, seeing as it is in the news?

Ad astra reply

8/10/2010Sir Ian You do seem very pleased with yourself now that Julia Gillard has instituted another mechanism for addressing community consensus about climate change. The [i]TPS[/i] piece you quote supported the idea of a Citizens Assembly, something I personally believe would have been useful should it have been professionally arranged. There is no doubt that community support for action declined in the face of the unremitting Abbott-led GBNT mantra, and that Gillard saw the need to rebuild that. That is still the case. It is the mechanism to do this that has changed. Matthew Franklin in today’s [i]Australian[/i] reports what Gillard said at the first meeting of the new committee: "The committee concluded that, in view of the creation of this committee and its intended outreach work, the proposal for a citizens' assembly should not be implemented but there would be other ways of harnessing public dialogue, engagement with the science of climate change and engagement in questions of pricing carbon." ‘Harnessing public dialogue’ is still seen as necessary and indeed it is. Despite the widespread ridicule of the Citizens’ Assembly by the MSM and others, all undoubted ‘experts’ in achieving community consensus, the idea is not silly, What will emerge in this regard from the new parliamentary committee is yet to be seen. But unless the committee can carry the public with it and counter the inevitable continuation of the GBNT slogan by the Coalition, which refuses to participate in the committee, if will be difficult to convince the people of the need for a price on carbon. The Citizens’ Assembly was a plausible mechanism for doing this notwithstanding the scorn heaped upon the idea by journalists and others clearly unaware of the power of such mechanisms. No, Sir Ian, I am not about to castigate Julia Gillard for changing tack, or to use the more colourful language the media so enjoys, ‘doing a back flip’, or ‘breaking an election promise’ as Tony Jones chose to put it, but I hope that new committee will institute something similar to bring the people in behind the idea of a price on carbon. That was and still is necessary.

Canbra Dave

8/10/2010Is it just me or has any one else noticed the difference in reception between our two leaders excursions in telling the truth? Tony Abbott admits on the 7.30 Report that he openly lies when speaking (and then turns around and reneges on a signed agreement anyway), but people turn around and praise him for 'being a breath of fresh air' since 'all politicians lie anyway'. Then when Julia Gillard tells the truth about her feelings about international affairs on the 7.30 Report, the commentariat is up in arms about how 'disappointing' and 'un-prime ministerial' she was. Here is the always delightful Fran Kelly at the Drum: "In a startling and disappointing admission on the 7.30 Report the other night the PM conceded that although there she was at Brussels for the Europe Asia summit, meeting face to face with at least 11 world leaders, including Chinese premier Wen Jiaboa, foreign policy was not her passion. If she had her choice "she'd rather be in a school watching kids learn to read in Australia than here in Brussels at international meetings"." No mention of the second part of her quote where she states that although her passion is education she will do the best that she possibly can to ensure that she represents Australia's interests internationally. Instead it's all about how 'disappointing' it is that she enjoys focusing upon education rather than foreign policy. Imagine that, a former education minister who prefers education over foreign policy. And what of her apparent reasoning for admitting the truth: "Either she was having her own jetlag moment: a reflection perhaps of her lack of experience and perhaps insecurity at the global table, or she was being the domestic political animal that she is and using the opportunity to send the message that she's not going to make the same mistake that Kevin Rudd (aka Kevin 747 ) did and prioritise international issues over bread and butter policy back home." Great, so she either made a mistake or it was a deliberate political manoeuvre. Could she just have been telling the truth because she was asked a question? Get out off here! So here we have a prime minister who actually [i]does[/i] tell the truth for once and the members of the press all jump on her for doing so. Do they not realise that by their actions they are just reinforcing the decisions made by our politicians to use the spin that journalists so proclaim to hate? I'm sure that Gillard will have learnt her lesson and the next time someone asks her a personal question she'll just mouth whatever inane piece of spin that she thinks will resonant with the public. Good work journos.

George Pike

8/10/2010The media want slapping severely for running this type of sordid garbage...no such "concern" for due process from the media when John Howard tipped several million tax payer dollars into his brother's pocket when his company was going down the gurgler hey! http://www.theage.com.au/national/oakeshott-may-have-lobbied-me-over-defence-contracts-says-gillard-20101008-16aas.html

NormanK

8/10/2010jj Nice cut and paste job. Seamless. And devoid of original thought as always. What a free-ranging mind you have, willing to delve into dark corners regardless of risk to yourself. Keep up the great work. How about we wait until the report is published in full before shooting our mouths off about water.

D Mick Weir

8/10/2010Good Morning HS, One of the things I got from Ads' post is that maybe we could take a step back from the 'sales pitch' debate on the NBN, filter out the hysterics and find some facts that will better inform us all. Your point that Mr Martin that [i]”.. will probably be looking for 'Dry' economics arguments to attack the NBN...”[/i] is noted however, I question the word ‘attack’ as my take is that he is probing, questioning and informing the debate with contrarian views. I will make no claim either way on whether Mr Martins' writings are influenced by the 'emotional part' however he sets me thinking and searching for more information often. In the post I referred to earlier there is this line: [i]"The Packers wouldn’t be wanting to use taxpayers money to look after their own interests again, would they?"[/i]. Read it here - http://www.petermartin.com.au/2007/03/broadband-labor-gets-taken-for-ride.html I am not often into conspiracy theories however, when the likes of a Packer or a Murdoch suggest that something is in the national interest my inner cynic becomes alert, very alert and, sometimes, alarmed. The possibilities that could come from a well planned and implemented high speed network are mind boggling and I am looking forward to it. I consider myself a bit of an amateur futurist and although this story is not real evidence of my foresight there have been some lessons learned! Thirty years ago when I was working at a radio station I suggested that one day our record (those vinyl disc thingies) library would stored and fit into the palm of my hand. Well to say the least my mental stability was severely questioned, yet, now we have iPods etc. If only I had followed through!!! Having said all that I still have some questions about cost and whether there may be smarter ways to achieve it all, meanwhile, I think I will emulate my gravatar, sneak off and find a warm spot and have a contemplative snooze on it all!

George Pike

8/10/2010Wasn't it incredible to see Tony Jones's first political statement in several days come in the form of a derisory statement against Julia Gillard for dumping the Citizens Assembly...even though the Climate Change Committee will have very much the same effect. This change was passed over as a yet another "broken promise" by Jones, without him even bothering to put forward Julia Gillard's perfectly valid point that the Labor Party is not solely in government, it is in fact a mix of parties and independents, therefore she has no option BUT to change the policy mix to suit the perculiar situation. The issue Jones chose to run with was also questionable due to the fact that there was virtually no mention of any of the facts that are very favourable for the government; e.g., the best trade result in half a century, the best employment figures in the world, a very successful first overseas tour by the PM and a glowing report from the IMF on Australia's economic governance. The dismal performance of the Opposition was also blatantly avoided by the Lateline compere; e.g., the shocking display of cowardice by Abbott in avoiding a visit to the troops in Afghanistan and his public put down of Australia's economic future on foreign television, Malcolm Turnbull's continued farcical opposition to the NBN (despite being ridiculed on that very same show the week before over exactly that same issue), Joe Hockey's call for a return to Workchoices, the Liberal's use of gutter tactics to try and undermine Oakeshott etc etc etc...all swept willfully and gleefully under the carpet by the ABC for reasons only known to them! The behaviour of the media in this country has become quite macabre..it makes me feel like I am actually living in pre-war Europe and watching dark shadowy figures going willingly and willfully about the business of destroying democracy in order to impose extremist right wing ideologues...and we all know how that ended up hey! Murdoch's influence in all this is overwhelmingly obvious...his intentions are less so. Maybe it is just to impose a government that will be nothing more than a corporate puppet autocracy to ensure that the profit motives resume their dominance over the social imperatives...it certainly appears that way at any rate.

lyn

8/10/2010Hi Ad Our friends over at the Cafe are talking about an interesting piece written by Nasking: Friday Siesta At The Cafe (Thanks John Howard Edition), Nasking, Cafe Whispers One only has to listen to the waves of discontent & tsunami of moaning prior to the announcement of the Murray-Darling Basin thingy to get a hint of what is yet to come. We’ve been warned. On the ABC Breakfast show of all things. http://cafewhispers.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/friday-siesta-at-the-cafe-thanks-john-howard-edition/

D Mick Weir

8/10/2010jj your point about creating a monopoly misses some points. Consider the electrical cables strung on poles near your house: One set of wires but, a multitude of retail service suppliers for your electricity. It doesn't matter which supplier you choose to send your bill it is all the same monopoly electricity carried on the same monoploly wires. The same happens (in most places) with your landline telephone, a monopoly supplier of the wires that come to your house and a choice of suppliers to send you a bill every month. How would you expect a fibre optic network to be different?

Hillbilly Skeleton

8/10/2010D Mick Weir, That was a short nap! :)

D Mick Weir

8/10/2010A cat nap !!!!!

D Mick Weir

8/10/2010and the sun is shining so I enjoyed a cuppa first then a snooze but someting nudged - little did I know that it was rattlings and prattlings and bleatings that needed attending to. Unsheath the sword was the recurring dream and so it is on to slay some dragons (and misguided words)

D Mick Weir

8/10/2010jj you seem to be wise to the ways of business, please can you inform us of how you would expect a Cost Benefit Analysis of the NBN be done? From my readings it seems that a simple CBA would wholly and totally inadequate. I understand from your previous comments that 'teh treasury' couldn't be trusted do a fair and just analysis but it may interest you the parameters that they may apply to the task: http://www.petermartin.com.au/2010/09/how-would-treasury-analyse-nbn.html No matter who was tasked with doing the job of 'creating' a CBA it would, no doubt, cost heaps and surely any sensible person would question such 'a huge waste of time and money'. I seem to recall one of the most important things that needed to be done was to: "STOP THE WASTE"

D Mick Weir

8/10/2010And now for something completely different: http://newmatilda.com/2010/10/08/did-you-miss-us-new-matilda-way-back Welcome back [b]New Matilda[/b] I am looking forward to some great stories being posted again.

Gravel

8/10/2010AD Astra, thanks for you enlightening take on the NBN, as also thanks to others that are clearing up questions I had on it too. I can't wait until almost everyone in Australia are connected, even if it is only to a phone line. Many people will go online to experience it, I notice many commentors on blogs are in the over 40's age group. Is it because we have the time the younger ones don't because they are tied to children and such? Ad Astra, I know your problem is with your equipment, but it also seems to be problem with connection. If every house and business, in your case accommodation places, has a connection to the NBN, would that then solve the connection problem? Lyn Your links are again invaluable, thanks.

lyn

8/10/2010Hi D Mick Weir Thankyou so much for the link and letting us know that "New Matilda" is back. Yes they have been greatly missed from the blogosphere. What is your little kittens name, such a cutie. cheers

Michael

8/10/2010A long, regurgitative - and point by point, 'fact' by 'fact', already discredited over the weeks past - post by JJ on the NBN. I was fascinated by the slip in the paragraph numbered 7, "full proof" for 'fool proof', that I thought indicated just which vessel JJ might be sipping from while typing away the next installment of 'slapping those Leftie fools at The Political Sword'.

Acerbic Conehead

8/10/2010AA, thanks to you and your many contributors for enlightening us on the NBN issue. At least Tones doesn’t have the excuse now for mistaking the NBN for the uniform the Taliban kit themselves out in (Nifty Burqa Numbers). As you know, I‘ve been out of circulation for a while, so am only catching up with Tones’ admission that his experiences of jet-lag are coming thicker and faster. However, at least he seems to have pin-pointed the cause – the prolonged and vigorous ordeals of extreme bike-riding that he puts himself through. It seems that the once virile constitution is no longer able to withstand the rigours anymore, and the increasing experience of quasi-jet-lag is becoming more and more common. So, having received another invitation from Jooles to accompany her to Afghanistan, he peddles furiously over to her place, only to have to pike it one more time due to pumping the peddles too powerfully. So sing along with him as he breathlessly intones his best wishes to Jooles for her trip. It is to the exhausting airs of Chantal Kreviazuk’s version of the John Denver classic, “Leaving on a Jet Plane”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7RLcq4Kn3Y&feature=related :- ( All my bags were packed, was ready to go I'm standin' here outside the Lodge door Hate to give you the sad news on my mobe But I came across on my bike too quick ‘fraid if I was late, you’d give me the flick Already I'm so seedy I could die :- ( CHORUS: So kiss ‘em and smile for me Tell ‘em they can fight for me Against the Taliban in their NBN’s But I’m smitten with my jet-lag Can’t keep my face outta the sickie-bag Oh god, feels like the bends :- ( There's so many times I've rode my bike Clobbered you lefties outta sight I tell you now, I must be gettin’ old Every circuit I do, every lap I end up feelin’ so utterly crap When I come back, I feel I’m ready to fold :- ( CHORUS :- ( Now the time has come for you to leave me One more time to help the Afghani’s So, pack your suitcase with my deadly load Like a coupla torpedoes And one of Johnno’s Abram tanks Stashed away down in the plane’s hold :- ( CHORUS :- ( Cos I’m smitten with my jet-lag Can’t keep my face outta the sickie-bag Oh god, feels like the bends

George Pike

8/10/2010More proof that Rupert (Goebbels) Murdoch is the arch enemy of democracy... http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/28/obama-fox-news-is-destructive-to-america/

Hillbilly Skeleton

8/10/2010AcerbicC, I fully expect Tones to ride his bike to Afghanistan when he goes over there for his photo op, er, secret visit, er, not so secret visit, so as to be able to avoid that dreadful jet lag, er, excuse, thingy. :)

Hillbilly Skeleton

8/10/2010Michael, I think it's obvious that jj is on the Coalition e-mail drip and sees it as his/her duty to thus put us 'Lefty' heathens in our place and out of our Progressive misery with 'the gospel truth' according to TAbbott and the Coalition.

lyn

8/10/2010Hi Acerbic Conehead Brilliant still, excellent piece, so good to see you back.

NormanK

8/10/2010Acerbic Conehead, Good to see you, I was starting to worry. Another excellent take on a great song. Cheers

jj

8/10/2010As you can see from my various silly mistakes, i did not copy and paste from anywhere. Tell me why a cost benefit analysis would be a waste of money? If the private sector cannot be convinced that there isn't a better way of delivering such a service, than how can the government expect people to invest in such a project; or for there to be public support? It is a monopoly because NBN co will hold control of the whole network and also the regulatory bodies. The telco's are only going to be able to use what it is the government builds, as the government has to make sure that there are enough people that take it up to make it profitable. Do you think it is healthy for the government to disallow any new broadband technologies that emerge over the next 40 years? Not only is it a monopoly, but it is a government owned monopoly...twice as bad.

D Mick Weir

8/10/2010hi again jj, from the post at Australian Observer (link provided previously) [i]"Transformational infrastructure like fast rail or the National Broadband Network will have so many unanticipated impacts on behaviour that [b]anyone who talks about “rigorous cost-benefit analysis” is simply talking nonsense."[/b][/i] I guess that the writings of a respected and well informed carry no wieght for some people. I will stand by my (partially) informed opinion and we will just have to agree to disagree

D Mick Weir

8/10/2010oops - correction to above I guess that the writings of a respected and well informed [b]former senior public servant[/b] carries[/b] no wieght for some people.

Hillbilly Skeleton

8/10/2010Talk about a bleedin' parrot: "Cost benefit analysis! Cost benefit analysis! Squawk!" Anyway if you want to spend half an hour listening to a tech expert talk about the NBN Cost/Benefit Analysis, here's a link: http://www.zdnet.com.au/how-to-write-an-nbn-cost-benefit-analysis-339306452.htm As the author says, Conroy should just get one done in order to shut up Malcolm Turnbull, who's just out to 'demolish' it on behalf of the Coalition, probably against his better instincts.

D Mick Weir

8/10/2010Once again re-reading of jj's (and others) comments I am awakened to some insights: In discussions about huge things like the NBN how difficult it can be [i]'too see the wood from the trees'[/i] or to [i]'sort the wheat from the chaff'[/i]. Take your pick they both inform my dilemma. Jj, Some personal anecdotal information on why I believe a CBA would not give an accurate picture of the benefits of faster internet. The company I work with performs various services that are used extensively by state and local governments (and many private sector consultants that use the services and pass on results to government bodies. Some parts of our services are very labour intensive and time consuming and there have been processes developed that can reduce labour costs by up to 80% and more than halve our turnaround times. Problem is that we cannot access sufficiently reliable internet services so that we can achieve this without huge capital outlays. I estimate our company alone could save government bodies alone $200k a year (and consultants a further $200-300k a year). Half a million bucks, small beer when compared to $43billion I know but, multiplied across the industry Australia wide easily $20 million per annum for government alone. Most people, including those that would do a CBA don’t even know our industry exists although our services affect changes to things that are everyday for most. There would be many other similar areas that could have similar affects. This is just one case of potentially thousands that would not even rate a single cell in a CBA spreadsheet. As to why I believe that the (wholesale) telecommunications infrastructure should be separated from the retailing of telecoms services, don’t ask. Suffice to say we have been shafted at least one too many times by the 800 pound gorilla and I could rattle on for many hours citing unfair practices by the incumbent monopoly provider. I have a feeling you remain unconvinced no matter what case is put before you but my (vain?) hope is that you will at least gain a little insight into why others see it differently.

Hillbilly Skeleton

8/10/2010Ash Gebrahnious just made avery interesting point about the NBN cost: 'When the government priced its cost of the NBN it was at the time the dollar was below 83 cents US. A 16 cent rise would certainly drop the price of the project by a few billion here and there.' Ha!

Hillbilly Skeleton

8/10/2010DMW, jj has drunk the Coalition Kool Aid. No matter how many reasonable arguments we put to he/she/it we ain't ever going to be able to convince him/her/it('it' in case they are a Coalition spambot) :)

D Mick Weir

8/10/2010shh hs don't let anyone know that I know that ... and don't let anyone know also that I am on a HS mission, oops, I am doing research on consumption of unnamed products such as 'too kool for skool, pop' ... wait til you see the Ads!!!

Ad astra

8/10/2010Gravel Thank you for your comment. You are right. After two hours on the phone to my IT son-in-law in Melbourne, the problem was the connection through corrupted DNS numbers,. How they became so is.a mystery, but all's well again. We would all benefit from a better communications network, such as the NBN.

Ad astra

8/10/2010AC Thank you for yet another great set of lyrics and a perfectly chosen song. I'm sorry I missed the opportunity to catch up with you while you were in Cairns. I think we were in Port Douglas until after you left. I hope you got my email.. Anyway, welcome back to TPS.

Macca

8/10/2010{telco's are only going to be able to use what it is the government builds, as the government has to make sure that there are enough people that take it up to make it profitable.} If we substitute the Transport industry for telco's would that mean we don't have an entire industry using taxpayer built and funded infrastructure?

Ad astra

8/10/2010George, HS, M Dick Weir Thank you for your comments. Your link George to the piece on Murdoch's influence in the US and Obama's view of it reflects our views about Murdoch here. Thank you to you all for your additions to the NBN dialogue, and for your links about the NBN this morning Lyn. This post now contains much useful reading about the subject; not the last word, but valuable nevertheless. If only someone who has a profound understanding of the NBN were to write a balanced comprehensive appraisal, we would all be better informed.

Ad astra

8/10/2010George The extraordinary view that politicians ought never to change direction seems to arise from the notion that the world and all in it does not change, that circumstances never alter, and therefore a proposal once made need never to be reconsidered. Yet philosophers insist that the capacity to change, to adapt, is the hallmark of intelligent beings. To go on doing something that is not working or continue with plans that events have rendered unsuitable, is a sign of stupidity. Yet commentators and the likes of Tony Jones are continually on the case of any politician who departs from a previously announced decision with pejorative terms such as 'broken promise' or 'back flip', no matter how remotely the decision was made, no matter how stupid it would be to persist with it In my view it is the commentators who are out of touch with reality, presumably because adaptability is a less worthy thing to comment on than the hot headline of back flip or broken promise. Why do we have to suffer such second-rate journalism?

Ad astra

8/10/2010Folks I'm off now to a conference function. I'll be back later this evening.

Hillbilly Skeleton

8/10/2010'If only someone who has a profound understanding of the NBN were to write a balanced comprehensive appraisal, we would all be better informed.' To which I have to add...in the Mainstream media.. However all we seem to be getting is Malcolm Turnbull's latest obfuscatory diatribe.Sigh.

bilgedigger

8/10/2010D.Mick Weir's comments re Packer & Murdoch hit the nail on the head. I remember many years ago listening to a radio interview with Kerry Packer (a very rare event) on telcos. This may have been prior to the 1977 lobbying of Fraser that D.Mick Weir referred to. He knew his subject backwards and forwards and gave a fascinating dissertation on the American telcoes,the equipment they were using and the future unbounded possibilities related to their usage. I took notes at the time, hence my later understanding of the terminology used when referring to unbundling loops and other issues. I thought at the time that he was heading toward trying to get the Government of the day to allow him to bid for what became Telstra. Currently it seems to me that the prize that Murdoch and the younger Packer are after is much bigger than just their current pay-tv interests. There will be the freeing up of extra spectrum I think still to come. I don't know what other holdings in Telstra they may have apart from the partnership arrangement for pay-tv, but presume they would have been lobbying the Future Fund to sell off their remaining interest in one big lump to someone like themselves. Whether I'm just drawing long bows remains to be seen, but what D.Mick Weir says makes much sense to me. Ad Astra, thanks for this post. The Australian newspaper has probably got you on it's list of enemies already since you publish explanations of things they would prefer to be kept out of the public eye. Hillbilly Skeleton - Thanks for the comment in response to JJ : "Talk about a bleeding parrott 'Cost Benefit Analysis! Cost Benefit Analysis! Squak'". I couldn't have put it better myself, since the parrott reaction came to mind when I first read his contribution(?).

D Mick Weir

8/10/2010Hi biledigger, I suspect having drawn that long bow, if you dare, let go of the draw sting and watch the hares run to wherever the arrow (sword?) lands and see what hearts are set a quiver, if you’ll excuse the mixed similes and/or metaphors. There is a wise old saying that says something about ‘... follow the money ... and you will find.. ‘ I think I will leave it there for the moment as I think I saw a couple hares running ,one named Jimmy and he was with his sometime mate, Joe D Something or Other to do with money. At the moment I am questioning my beliefs and understandings about Common or Government ownership of communications pipes or have such things in private hands. But one thing does concern me that because of the current power of media moguls politicians can be persuaded to do stupid things and well the consequences are pitiful to watch.

Ad astra reply

8/10/2010bilgedigger Welcome to the dialogue about the NBN and for your kind remarks. Your conspiracy theory, building on D Mick Weir’s comments, will be well worth watching. As he says: “Follow the money”. Folks I’ve had a great evening so I’m calling it a day – back tomorrow

Acerbic Conehead

8/10/2010HS, lyn, Normank and AA, thank you for your kind words and the contribution you all make to ensuring this blog continues to be a stand-out. Even though Tones is feeling a bit discomforted by his jet-lag, he knows he has a great team behind him nevertheless. After all, Barnaby is there to do the counting, and Joe and Robbo have got their expert hands on the economic tiller. And, as Tones couldn’t get the Indos to come along with him quietly, he has tasked Bill Heffernan to use his demonic possessions’ powers on them. Also, David “Johnno” Johnston, with his “Tanks for Afghanistan” brainwave, is such an expert in Defence, he would make John Monash look like the Grand Old Duke of York. What a nucleus for a team, you’ll readily agree. So don’t forget, if Jooles ends up under the tracks of an Abram tank, we have a ready-made alternative government primed to take control. I don’t know about you, but the very thought of that spurs me to reach into the fridge for some more amber liquid comfort. Have a great weekend everyone.

Hillbilly Skeleton

8/10/2010I had to share this absolutely reprehensible Editorial from The Townsville Bulletin about Grog: http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2010/10/08/175671_opinion.html 'Voice of the people'? As if. Voice of Murdoch.

Acerbic Conehead

8/10/2010HS, from that article you linked: "Those who hide under the veil of anonymity, taking cheap shots to satisfy their trendy social agenda, don't like it when they are thrust into the real world." I've mislaid my specs, so I could be wrong, but I couldn't see an author's name on same article.

Miglo

8/10/2010Hi Hillbilly. That editorial in the Townsville Bulletin borders on pathetic. It's very frustrating to read continual attacks on people who dare to have a difference of opinion to Rupert's World Order. I will always enjoy the challenge of defying it. Perhaps old Rupert hasn't heard of the New World Order. It's a pity he'll be dead and buried before his empire starts to crumble.

NormanK

8/10/2010Hillbilly Skeleton, World On behalf of sane North Queenslanders - "I am sorry". What a prat. No by-line. In a newspaper which has a monopoly in the area. Voice of the people my arse. [quote]"We prefer to call them cowards."[/quote] I'm glad he//she thinks they are speaking for me. Not a good way to finish the day.

Ad astra reply

9/10/2010Folks This morning I'm going to an early session at the Cairns conference on e-health. It will be interesting to hear how it is seen as fitting into the NBN scenario. I'll report later in the day. Lyn I'll post your links to your special page this afternoon.

lyn

9/10/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] [i]State of Play? Mr Denmore, The Failed Estate[/i] 'State of Play' a political/media thriller built around a collaboration between an old school MSM investigative reporter and a blogger working for the same newspaper http://thefailedestate.blogspot.com/ [i]While we worried about jetlag and passion, The Conscience Vote[/i] Sky News is the big winner here in terms of trying to beat up stories. Virtually every one of their political programs this week raised the non-issues with their guests. http://consciencevote.wordpress.com:80/2010/10/08/while-we-worried-about-jetlag-and-passion/ [i]Hey liberals, muscle-up, Bernard Keane, Crikey[/i] engaged in — the war against Labor, the war against the Greens (the “Stalinist, pot-smoking, paranoid” Greens as one Australian press gallery journalist calls them),the war against bloggers, the war against the ABC,on the list goes. http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/10/08/in-the-echo-chamber-progressives-need-to-muscle-up-on-policy/ [i]Mimicking US politics will destroy us, Crikey[/i] the media moguls are amongst the most wealthy and powerful group in the world who, naturally, lean towards the right. http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/10/08/mimicking-us-politics-will-destroy-us/ [i]Tony the untrustworthy, Independent Australia[/i] Tony Abbott is not only not bound by his word, but will even break signed agreements for cynical reasons of political expediency. http://www.independentaustralia.net/2010/politics/tony-the-untrustworthy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tony-the-untrustworthy [i]TalibandGate!Ross Sharp, Groupthink[/i] We must surely give thanks for the revealing of this conspiracy on this day to Australia’s Greatest Investigative Journalist, Mr. Andrew Bolt. http://www.groupthink.com.au/2010/10/07/talibandgate/ [i]Labor Lost, Reb, Gutter trash[/i] The Liberals are a mess. Brandis, Hockey and Robb are like the three stooges of Australian politics. Falling over each other as if in the midst of some bizarre slap stick comedy http://guttertrash.wordpress.com:80/2010/10/08/labor-lost/ [i]BROADBAND - NBN[/i] [i]Tassie's opt-out NBN connection, BuddeBlog[/i] Users still don’t have a full understanding of what the NBN is going to mean for them in years to come, and so giving everybody the basic connection for free is the best option – http://www.buddeblog.com.au/frompaulsdesk/tassies-opt-out-nbn-connection/ [i]Telstra: No preference on NBN opt-out, Renai Lemay, Delimiter[/i] Other matters covered in the doorstop video above include Telstra layoffs, the price of the National Broadband Network and Telstra’s share price. http://delimiter.com.au/2010/10/08/telstra-no-preference-on-nbn-opt-out/ NEWSPAPERS: [i]Loose lips fear to haunt Tony Abbott , Laurie Oakes, Herald Sun[/i] Cameron asked: "How long have you been leader?"Abbott looked startled. [b]"When there is no camera I might ... " he stammered[/b]. Cameron dutifully ordered TV crews from the room. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/loose-lips-fear-to-haunt-tony-abbott/story-e6frfhqf-1225936206993 [i]Divided Coalition has most to lose , Phillip Coorey, SMH[/i] Of the 16 electorates along the basin, 15 are held by the Coalition. A senior Liberal said Labor had less to lose than the Coalition, http://www.smh.com.au/environment/water-issues/divided-coalition-has-most-to-lose-20101008-16c2z.html

Hillbilly Skeleton

9/10/2010Guys, I'd say you could target the Editor of the Townsville Bulletin for that vile Hate Speech without a byline, whatever their name is. You don't get to positions like that without tugging some serious forelock. Poss was right about 'The Great Unhinging'. All we can do is be the 'Voice of Sweet Reason'. Constantly. That guy's newspaper might go into everyone's yard, but we go further than that. We potentially go into everyone's computer. I'd be willing to organise a Bloggers United Conference to show 'Them' the strength of our numbers, though I acknowledge it would probably be a big ask to make it happen. As I see things, the minions of Murdochistan have declared 'War on Bloggers', and it behoves us to fight back, or fold our tents.

George Pike

9/10/2010"How dare someone in the mainstream media name one of these increasingly puerile bloggers, self-appointed guardians of righteousness and all that is wrong about society and, in particular, newspapers..." "Bloggers, on the other hand, represent nothing. They whinge, carp and whine about our role in society, and yet they contribute nothing to it, other than satisfying their juvenile egos." "The Macquarie Dictionary refers to someone who writes anonymously as "lacking individuality", or lacking individual characteristics. We prefer to call them cowards." Strange contributions from the News Ltd scribblers, especially considering half the more vocal bloggers are journos themselves hey! More than the odd one or two articles is spun out daily in the News Ltd rags ANONYMOUSLY as well..cowardly sods!

Macca

9/10/2010The best analogy for the nbn. "Will the nbn be faster than a carrier pidgeon?" Larvatus Prodeo.....see Brian comment#10

Patricia WA

9/10/2010"We potentially go into everyone's computer." HS has put her finger on our real power which frustrates the print media moguls. In the past, next to our vote, our major weapon, a weak one at that, was dependent on an Editor's whim. Writing to the newspapers to protest our outrage, even to call a public meeting to discuss an issue, was dependent on an Editor, or his lackey, choosing to print our letters. Even now on their so called "Have Your Say" blogs they censor opinions they don't like. Word spreads fast on the web and when popular sites like this or Grog's Gamut are effective in their criticisms of the status quo or demonstrate the bias of the MSM then the media imperialists will try to strike back. We are truly an invisible and unquantifiable foe with our 'power of the pen' now reinforced more than a thousandfold by our keyboards.

Hillbilly Skeleton

9/10/2010Go! Patricia WA! And keep the humourous vignettes flowing because nothing disarms the angry and frustrated better than being made an object of satirical ridicule, put on the table in front of them and out there for the world to see.

NormanK

9/10/2010This might go some way towards explaining the Townsville Bulletin's diatribe. [quote]The Townsville Bulletin celebrates our first birthday with style Well, well, well! Haven’t we bloggers really got up the nose of The Bully? :-)[/quote] http://bloggingtownsville.blogspot.com/2010/10/townsville-bulletin-celebrates-our.html

Miglo

9/10/2010Hillbilly, you sound inspired. :)

Hillbilly Skeleton

9/10/2010Migs, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore! On behalf of Grog and all the other wonderful bloggers in the Bloginverse. :) (And I say Bloginverse on purpose, as we are the inverse of the MSM!)

Hillbilly Skeleton

9/10/2010NormanK, Thanks for the link to Island View blog. I find it interesting to note that the Conservatives supposed power base, small business, has thrown up this local blogger onto our team. :)

D Mick Weir

9/10/2010One of the problems that many people could have with NBN project is the price (as opposed to the cost which may be different for arcane economic reasons that are beyond me). Most of us have no concept of what $47 billion looks like in real cash. Without too much effort we could visualise what a million dollars would look like but a billion is a lot harder. FWIW I figure that a stack of $100 notes about a metre high would be $1 million. A metre is easy to imagine as it is approximately the same height as most peoples’ belly button (go on measure and see how close it is!). Trying to imagine a stack 1 kilometre is getting difficult as there is no readily available reference point. One thousand one metre stacks might be a little easier but 47,000 1 metre stacks, um, I can’t even guess if they would fit into my backyard! My point here is that part of the problem is one of framing. If I can’t get my head around the money I am more likely to switch off other parts of the story. And so it is also with the ‘benefits’ a lot of people would have difficulty imagining the mechanics of e-health as an example. Add saying it could save us a billion dollars and we have a double whammy. Hillbilly Skeleton touched on something in earlier comment [i]... an Economist, the 'Dismal Science', ... he is overlooking and doesn't 'get' the emotional dividends that the NBN will provide ...”. A considerable body of research, done mostly by those very Dismal Scientists, shows are more likely to make decisions based on emotions than facts. Here we have another problem, many who support the NBN are looking for ‘facts’ to support the case while those that oppose can easily use emotions, mostly fear, to put doubt into peoples’ minds. Examine some of the reasons given for not ‘wasting’ that much money one something that a lot of people don’t understand and you will most likely find there is an emotional part in what is said. As an example “... with $47 billion the government could build at least 47 hospitals ...” Anybody who has had to wait for a medical service could easily be ‘emotionally’ convinced that it would be better to spend the money on bricks and mortar hospitals rather a rather nebulous e-heath transport system. I suspect that even some eminent body could come with an unbiased overview of the pro’s and con’s and a thorough and comprehensive Cost Benefit Analysis was produced that fear and doubt would be used to ‘destroy’.

lyn

9/10/2010Hi Hillbilly and Norman K The piece in the Townsville Bulletin is more than upsetting, so bloggers are cowards. Amazing the fantastic daily enjoyment we get from the army of cowards. I call the bloggers very nice people with an exceptional talent for telling the truth, and writing genuine well thought out articles. The Oxford dictionary says "Unknown Name", strange definition, lacking individuality. The Townsville Bulletin celebrates our first birthday, Island View, Blogging Townsville For the record, my reasons for Island View’s anonymity are simple – I’m a small businessman trying to make a living and pay the rent in a small regional city and, believe me, publically calling the most powerful and most connected media outlet in the town to account wouldn’t be real good for business! http://bloggingtownsville.blogspot.com/2010/10/townsville-bulletin-celebrates-our.html [b]Townsville Bulletin, Friday, October 8, 2010[/b] [b]Cowardly World of Bloggers[/b] [quote]Bloggers, on the other hand, represent nothing. They whinge, carp and whine about our role in society, and yet they contribute nothing to it, other than satisfying their juvenile egos. Bloggers are fond of trying to suggest that newspapers are on the way out, that we've lost our relevance and importance to the community. The Macquarie Dictionary refers to someone who writes anonymously as "lacking individuality" or lacking individual characteristics. We refer to them as cowards[/quote].

Ad astra reply

9/10/2010LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/Lyns-Daily-Links.aspx Still more links to the NBN issue.

Ad astra reply

9/10/2010Folks Thank you your comments - the ears of the anonymous editor of [i]The Townsville Bulletin[/i] should be burning. The session on e-health this morning at the Cairns conference was most informative - the amount being done in this field is monumental. More of that later.

D Mick Weir

9/10/2010Thanks all for that link to the “Bully” thing. I am not sure that breaking my rule of not clicking on links to anything News Ltd* was really worth it! However I found it intriguing that the editorial should use blog bashing as a way to tell people of the ’wonderful’ news that they will be getting brand spanking new printing presses. That the “Bully” and other newspapers are investing in new presses would tend to indicate that the oft made prediction in the blogosphere that the death of newspapers is imminent is a little off the mark. Many have forecast the death of newspapers probably since the beginnings of the radio broadcast era. Radio and television failed to kill off newspapers and I don’t think the internet or blogging will either. However, just as the broadcast media forced changes on the print media so too will the internet force changes both print and broadcast. It is fun to be part of the changes! * Like all good hypocrites I have exceptions to my rule. Whenever a Meganomics blog appears I go there (but I don’t read any of the ads on principle!)

NormanK

9/10/2010Hillbilly I share your indignation, overlaid with a coating of irrational embarrassment. For some reason I don't feel much of a sense of ownership regarding "big city" papers but when it is (almost) your local rag, it feels like you're part of the muck-slinging. Apologies to John Farnham and the original lyricists (and AC who does a much better job than I ever could). [u][b]We're the Voice[/b][/u] We have The chance to turn the bloggers over We can hate what they want to write We gotta make ends meet, grab the corporate dollar They're all gutless bloggers They're all gutless scum How long can we look at each other And just let the future come We're the Voice, you better understand it Making noise for Rupert's mates Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o! We're not gonna sit in silence We're not gonna allow debates Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o! It's time To show on-line mangy dogs We don't at all feel threatened By the power of the cowardly blogs They're all gutless bloggers They're all gutless scum How long can we look at each other And just let the future come We're the Voice, you better understand it Nothing they say makes any sense Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o! We're not gonna sit in silence We're gonna put up a strong defence Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o! They're all hopeless bludgers They're all steeped in shite We're gonna pull them down you'll see Murdoch says we've got the right We're the Voice, you better understand it See our words they're filled with hate Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o! We're not gonna sit in silence You'd better pull your head in mate Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o!

lyn

9/10/2010Hi Norman K Brilliant again, thankyou for your lovely piece for our laughter & enjoyment. NormanK, AC, Patricia WA, are just fantastic, you are all different, in style, I could pick the three of you without a gravatar or a name of any kind, likewise for most of our regular commenters on "The Political Sword". I bet, I could pick Ad and Hillbilly too, characteristics are easy to pick from ones writing, I know my authors well, their name is no matter to me.

rabid dog

9/10/2010Hey Tweety!! You sure about that?

Acerbic Conehead

9/10/2010NormanK and Patricia, comrades in verse! Keep 'em comin'!

Acerbic Conehead

9/10/2010AA, as well as gallivanting around half the country, I heard you also found time to attend a group counselling session, with some other arch-bloggers, to try to wean you off the nasty habit. The counsellor, Margorie “Massola” Dawes, bases himself on the Little Britain character. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3jGrwvHA8E Massa’s mission is to get you recalcitrant bloggers onto the straight and narrow, just like then rest of his mates at The Oz. Your fellow addicts are Grog, Possum Comitatus and William Bowe. Massa: Right, you lot...this is your first session of Blog Bashers here at The Oz Community Centre, so listen up and we’ll soon get you kicking your bad habits... Grog: Erm...any chance of having a window opened...it smells like old men in here...the previous inhabitants must have been The Oz Editorial group...heh...heh... Massa: Look...don’t you come the raw prawn with your public service bolshevism round here sonshine...just because your lot spend all their time gawking out the bloody windows... AA: And running the public health system... Bilbo: And organising the public education system... Possum: And overseeing the fight against the GFC... Massa: Alright...alright...you smartarses...No wonder nobody takes us at The Oz seriously anymore, with you blogging buffoons taking the piss out of us all the time...So, now maybe we can get down to the main business of excising your nasty blogging habits...And, in a vain attempt to do so, I’ve organised a talk-back radio format today, so that some Oz readers can phone in and hopefully bring you lot to your senses... [Massa spruiks on a bit and reiterates the Community Centre’s phone number for people to ring in. The first caller is Tony Abbott] Tones: Jeeze, guys...I’m so glad I got through to you...I’m totally buggered and I need some help badly... Massa: Erm...Tones...you’re missing the point totally, mate...You’re supposed to be dishing out the advice, not looking for some from these jokers here... Tones: Ummm...ahhhhh...errrrrr...but...but...but, Massa...isn’t this the local branch meeting of Jet Laggers’ Anonymous? I’ve just cycled from Freo, mate, and I don’t know whether I’m Arthur or Martha... [Grog interjects] Grog: Hmmmm...You must find that a bit threatening, mate...hee...hee... AA: Hey, Tones – just tell me your location and I’ll be round with my mobile surgery in a jiff...ho...ho... Bilbo: I know, Tones...come round to the Students’ Union Bar with me and my perpetual-student mates – we’ll give you such a hangover, you’ll soon forget about your jet-lag...haw...haw... Possum: And, Tones...it looks like you’re going backwards in the leadership stakes – do you want me to do a regression analysis on you...tee...hee... [Massa is seriously in danger of losing the plot completely, so he hangs up on Tones and tries to compose himself by calling out the phone number in the hope of getting some more reliable readers of The Oz to call in. However, being totally flabbergasted, he reads out a different number to the correct one. After a few seconds, a caller phones in. It is Geraldine “Mother Superior” Doogue] St Geraldine: Is that you, Judas? I’d recognise that bloody IP address anywhere...I wish to god you’d stop posting on my blog with your silly name and your even sillier opinions on things religious...And asking for thirty pieces of silver every time you get one of your inane posts up...Do you think we’re made of money over here at the ABC...We’ve taken a vow of poverty, y’know... [by this stage, Massa is packing it, as his cover has been broken. He nervously cuts Geraldine off and gets the next caller on. It is Andrew Bolt] Bolta: Why you little grub, Vladimir...I also recognise that infernal IP address...So you’re the twit who’s been squatting on my blog, telling everyone that Clive Palmer is a fat capitalist pig who should be run over by one of Johnno Johnston’s tanks... [Massa realises he has been well and truly sprung. But, as if things usually couldn’t get any worse, they inevitably do. The next caller announces himself, in very grave and menacing tones, as...Rupert Murdoch! Massa puts him on hold and turns, panic-stricken, to the four bloggers] Massa (pleadingly): Guys...guys...please...please...you gotta help me... Grog: Well, Massa, as it happens, there’s a vacancy in our department at the moment for a draughtsman – I can always put a word in for you...just to show I don’t bear grudges... Massa (uriah-heepishly): Oh, thank you, Grog, thank you...and as a draftsman, no less...it’s an opportunity that a wretch like myself hardly deserves... Grog: Hey, don’t get ahead of yourself here, Massa...in our place, the draughtsman is the office lackey who opens and closes the windows... Massa: No problem, mate...compared to working with Den and Janet, it’ll be a breeze...heh...heh...

lyn

9/10/2010Hi rabid dog I am very sure about that, be fair, you need to write more than 4 words, and I need to read more than 4 words to get my clues. cheers

rabid dog

9/10/2010[b]L[/b]ittle [b]Y[/b]ellow [b]N[/b]ightingale Yes it probably was unfair on you and our fellow-readers. As Oscar Wilde said - "I can resist everything except temptation". Cheers AC for another great sketch but I must protest taking St Geraldine's name in vain - she is the conscience of the nation. Our very own Desmond Tutu. Thank goodness Mr Rabbott didn't get to meet him on his recent fictional trip OS.

lyn

9/10/2010Hi Norman K, Where did you get that photo from, poor little dog, he looks ferocious. I think he must have squashed the beautiful double delight and you roused. cheers

lyn

9/10/2010Norman K I just finished my comment and along came Mr Lincoln, or Montizoomer, not sure of the correct spelling. What a magnificent rose, from a magnificent writer.

Hillbilly Skeleton

9/10/2010NormanK, Or is that RabidK, or SpecialNorman? Anyway, I will never be able to listen to Dame Johnnie Farnham sing that song again without having your lyrics run through my head at the same time. :)

Hillbilly Skeleton

9/10/2010I loved Peter Hartcher's description of Tony Abbott's politics as 'all aggro, all the time', in today's Sydney Morning Herald. I wonder if some of the political journalists are starting to tire of it?

Hillbilly Skeleton

9/10/2010RabidNorm, Maybe you should submit that song to the Townsville Bully and your local Island View blog? Just to try to hit as close to home with it as possible.

Hillbilly Skeleton

9/10/2010We'll have to find a way of using these in our comments I think: http://twitpic.com/2vnner (lyn might be a bit afraid to use them though) :)

lyn

9/10/2010Hi Hillbilly Correct, there is no way I could use those twitpics, they will chase me. Couldn't you find some smaller than me, maybe a poor little lizard. [quote]Maybe you should submit that song to the Townsville Bully [/quote] Rabidnorm needs to put his masterpiece on the original editorial. Did you see that Craig Thomler from [b]eGov.Au [/b]has found the original story about us awful coward bloggers. There are only 3 comments on the newspapers anonymous editorial. By the way, what a wonderful presentation Craig Thomler has done of the Grog saga on eGov, AU. Hillbilly are you going comment. I put a comment on Island view and a link to "The Political Sword, but not on the newspaper editorial. [i]Cowardly world of bloggers , [b]Anonymous editorial[/b], Townsville Bulletin[/i] Bloggers are fond of trying to suggest that newspapers are on the way out, that we've lost our relevance and importance to the community http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2010/10/08/175671_opinion.html

NormanK

9/10/2010Hi Lyn I felt sorry for the dog and couldn't look at it any more. The rose is Mr lincoln which is one that I don't have but I recall it's one of your favourites. Your prize for intuitive excellence. Hillbilly I posted the song in Island View's comments section. I figured if I put it on the TB site or launched at them as I wanted to do last night, it would only reinforce their point. I think it is fair to assume the editor in question is keeping a close eye on BloggingTownsville. Boy, that editorial was nasty and personal. RabidNorm has a nice feel to it. "Life Be In It - Like A Rabid Mongrel Dog". Go Tony. Cat pics are great. Today's serious contribution comes from the International Telecommunications Union (not a workers' body) which describes itself as : "... the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues, and the global focal point for governments and the private sector in developing networks and services. For 145 years, ITU has coordinated the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, established the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems .... " http://www.itu.int/net/about/index.aspx They wax lyrical about high speed broadband claiming, among other things, that : [quote]"In the health sector, network-based health monitoring of chronic medical conditions and low-cost remote consultation and intervention will be increasingly favoured by health providers, particularly those serving remote communities or ageing populations. In Australia, it has been estimated that cost savings in healthcare alone could pay for Australia’s National Broadband Network twice over."[/quote] http://www.itu.int/en/broadband/pages/sectors.aspx

lyn

9/10/2010Hi Ad Thankyou for popping in at 2pm, during your very interesting conference. We are all looking forward to reading your learned knowledge on e health. and your very qualified point of view. Hope you and your wife had a "happy sunshiny day". cheers

Travel Insurance India

9/10/2010Hari Om and thanks for posting!

D Mick Weir

9/10/2010Good Evening Swordspeople, just back from errands to find the creative juices have been well and truly flowing! NormanK - brilliant I could hear JF singing the words as I hummed along. AC - you are truly sick and warped. In the best and kindest way. HS - I enjoyed that Twitpic link, thanks heaps lyn - my little Gravatr is under solemn oath to only dream about you (or at least your gravatar) and definitely no chasing. You asked the little treasures name and I have a confession; I 'borrowed' this pic from one those emails that occasionally does the rounds. I have been trying my hardest to think an appropriately witty name and sort of settled on [b]Anon-a-mous Gamut[/b] in honour of a fine blogging traditionalist. BTW I really enjoy your daily links you send us off on enlightening excursions most days. Thanks

Ad astra reply

9/10/2010Folks This morning at the Cairns conference of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners there was an enlightening panel session on e-health. First you can be assured that there are many bodies: governmental, professional and commercial that are working on the many and varied aspects of e-health. Much has already been done and much more is planned. Every conceivable aspect is being addressed. The National Healthcare Identifier system began operating on 1 July. So that we are all on the same page, here is some information about it from the Government page eHealth Healthcare Identifiers Service http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/pacd-ehealth-consultation [i]“The Healthcare Identifiers Service (HI Service) has been established as a foundation service for e-health initiative in Australia. “What is e-health? Governments across Australia[/i] [via COAG] [i]have committed to a national approach to e-health that will enable a safer, higher quality, more equitable and sustainable health system for all Australians. “E-health is set to improve the way healthcare is delivered by transforming the way information is used to plan, manage and deliver health services. It will achieve this through better use of information technology to facilitate electronic access, transmission and recording of health information. “Foundations, standards and solutions are being established to enable the secure electronic transfer of information such as referrals, test orders and results and prescriptions quickly and safely between healthcare providers. “In the future e-health will enable you to: Have electronic access to your own information helping you to better manage and control your personal health outcomes Support healthcare providers in their decision making by making your health information electronically available at the right place and right time Feel assured that your personal health information is being managed in a secure, confidential and tightly controlled manner. “The Healthcare Identifiers Service (HI Service) A healthcare identifier is a unique number that will be assigned to each healthcare consumer, and to healthcare providers and organisations that provide health services. “The identifiers will be assigned and administered through the HI Service that has been established to undertake this task. “A key aim of healthcare identifiers is to ensure that individuals and providers can have confidence that the right health information is associated with the right individual at the point of care.”[/i] You can see that the focus of healthcare identifiers is to enable all relevant, up-to-date, health-related information about individual patients to be immediately available wherever health care is delivered to the provider delivering it. Many medical errors and waste of resources result from information not being available where the patient seeks attention. Healthcare identifiers are seen as the means to overcome this deficiency in the current health care system. It will take years to fully develop. The implementation of healthcare identifiers clearly can proceed before the NBN is completed, but will be facilitated by it. It is other aspects of health care that the NBN will enable. Remote consultations with specialists via teleconferencing, transmission of high resolution images, uploading and downloading of very large files, and remote monitoring in home or hospital will be enabled by very fast broadband; indeed will not be possible without it. To look into the future a little, it is predicted that eventually in-house computerized medical records will become obsolete as all records will be held remotely on the Internet, and so-called ‘cloud computing’, available anywhere, will become the norm with access and input being effected by an iPad-like device. That’s something to think about. In the meantime patients will be reassured to know that there are many groups working on all aspects of the system that will ensure that all patient data, from that generated by the patient’s doctor and other healthcare providers, pathology test results, images and reports, medications, reactions to medications, prescriptions, allergies, consultant reports, and hospital discharge and health care summaries will be available anywhere anytime the patient seeks care and will also be available to patients to enable them to manage their health care more than ever possible previously. Since this is sensitive information, privacy and security issues will be carefully addressed. It’s an exciting world of health care to contemplate as communications technology enables what was hitherto impossible. Bring on fast broadband.

Ad astra reply

9/10/2010Folks We're off to the conference dinner - back tomorrow.

lyn

9/10/2010Hi D Mick Weir Thankyou for your kind compliment, I am really pleased you enjoy the links. Yes that's where I go each morning, visiting all those blogs, what a great time I have enjoying all those clever, brilliant so called cowardly bloggers, called cowards for being anonymous by an anonymous We all enjoy your comments very much. Anon-a-mous Gamut sounds good. cheers

lyn

9/10/2010Hi Ad Thankyou for your very welcome comment containing so much valuable information at 7.29pm, I was hoping to hear your news, but not expected that quick. 10 minutes later off to dinner for you and your lovely wife, no doubt about it, some people have all the life. Have a happy, lovely dinner, enjoy. cheers

Hillbilly Skeleton

9/10/2010Ad Astra, Thank you for that comprehensive explanation about eHealth. When you look at it in that way, the question then becomes, why aren't we moving, as a country, in this direction as quickly as possible? I can see no good reason why the country should not have complete data interconnectedness. When you consider all the medical errors that occur simply from doctors not having the complete medical picture of a patient, and thus making an error that would otherwise not have been made if they had had access to that patient's complete and comprehensive medical record, or pharmacists who dispense a prescription for a medication that interacts with another that they have no knowledge of, well, how could you not advocate for the information superhighway that will deliver us from those sort of mistakes, inadvertantly made? Not to mention that it will put an end to the scourge that is 'Doctor Shopping'. How any sane and rational politician could not advocate for the National Infrastructure investment that is the NBN is beyond me. Malcolm Turnbull, in his quieter moments, must feel ashamed to be doing the 'Demolition Man' job. And that is only the Health aspects of the NBN. Anyway, suffice to say that it was heartening to read that there are murmurings within Coalition ranks about Tony Abbott's leadership. Joe(k) Hockey, Andrew Robb, Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, Jamie Briggs, Josh Frydenburg and Kelly O'Dwyer were all mentioned in despatches as having the leadership baton in their knapsacks. Also those members that Tony Abbott booted to the backbench recently from the Shadow frontbench, such as Steve Ciobo and Sharman Stone, are now carrying grudges that are feeding the aspirations of that other Malcontent, Malcolm Turnbull. And they say Labor is in disarray? Labor are quietly but determinedly getting on with getting their house back in order. I note today there was a story about Karl Bitar having decided to move on from his job of National Secretary, to spend more time with his young family. :)

Hillbilly Skeleton

9/10/2010Don't worry, lyn, those kittehs are too busy being Emoticats to be worried with chasing Tweety Birds around :)

Hillbilly Skeleton

9/10/2010NormanK, Good gets from the ITU. I'll read them now. You'd think those 'Voices of the People', paid journalists, in the cause of 'Fair and Balanced' reporting on the NBN, would be able to dig info like that up for their adoring masses to read as well as you could? However, I guess the point is they probably can but do not want to. Instead they get railroaded into printing the latest screed from 'The Demolition Man' instead by their editors and their mates in the Coalition.

NormanK

9/10/2010HS The more I read (and I've been reading until my eyes blur over the last couple of days) the angrier I get at Turnbull because he has all of this stuff and more at his fingertips and yet he persists with superficial nonsense in the interest of short-term political gain. If he pulled his head in, he could contribute to making the policy and implementation of the NBN much stronger and more efficient. Another set of intelligent eyes never goes astray. The other result of my reading is that I can understand, in part, why Rudd and Conroy and others might not feel the need to justify their decisions when they have been inundated with material from various world bodies (OECD, UN etc.) saying in effect "go for FTTH if you can afford it". All of the publications from big advisory bodies are passionately supportive of Australia's roll-out and are watching with keen interest. So I can understand why Labor might feel that it is a no-brainer but as you and AA have pointed out here on many occasions, they must do a better job of advocating (thanks Grog) their policies. As Ad astra seems to have discovered first hand, education, health and economic bodies are all forging ahead with investigating practical measures for capitalising on the exciting possibilities they can see coming from the new technology. It is very sad, embarrassing even, that the debate has come down to scare-mongering over the cost of individual user contracts and the like. Turnbull should be ashamed of himself and probably is in his quiet moments.

Jason

9/10/2010Normank, On the subject of Turnbull M, I have always thought he was like any other corporate raider. I may be wrong but I thought he bought ozemail when the price was low and sold just before the dot com bust for a profit! other than that he has no more insight to the NBN or any thing else than his leader! But I'm happy to be proved wrong.

NormanK

9/10/2010Jason I wouldn't argue with that summary. I'm not saying he's an expert or even a tech-head but he is intelligent and he has all of this material on his desk so to speak. He doesn't need to understand how the pipes and valves work any more than I do but really it is his job to get the best outcome for Australia. If I can see that the great majority of experts world-wide are talking up FTTH as the Holy Grail, then so can he and he knows that we can afford it and that it will super-charge segments of our economy. He knows that he is lying though his teeth and I really really hate bald-faced liars. Abbott, Hockey, Robb, Pyne, Dutton - all lie knowing full well that they are lying and show no sign of conscience. Turnbull is better than that (an impression based on nothing much other than the look in his eyes and on his face when he goes down the path of deceit). I'm not talking him up but he is the best of a bad bunch and compromising what little integrity he does have each time he opens his mouth these days.

jimbo

9/10/2010Hi all I was so peeved with that article i found it necessary to reply by letting them know how cowardly i thought they were to write something like that without a biline or name for said article and i also let them know that the day of the newspaper in this form was limited because of their rubbishy stories their lies and abject bias.

jimbo

9/10/2010Well HS im not rolling up my tent i say LETS FIGHT because the print medias days are numbered anyway.GIVE THE BASTARDS HEAPS HS

D Mick Weir

9/10/2010Jason, FYI basically Turnbull was (is) a lawyer he has degrees in Arts and Law. Has been a journalist. He represented the Packer Family companies for a few years and then moved into merchant banking / brokerage. Was chairman of ozemail Having written that, thought I better check, and this link to Wikipeadia will inform better than I can: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Turnbull Hmm, journalist, lawyer, merchant banker, politician - and how highly regarded are these 'professions'?

lyn

9/10/2010Hi Jimbo Yes they are enough to peeve everyone to the core. I wonder how many bloggers will read the article, and the small business man's blog, "blogging Townsville", a lot I hope. Cheers

lyn

9/10/2010Hi D Mick Weir [quote]Hmm, journalist, lawyer, merchant banker, politician - and how highly regarded are these 'professions'?[/quote] None are regarded generally, as honest or trustworthy.

D Mick Weir

9/10/2010NormanK, the thing to remeber about Turnbull is that he has one goal - to be Prime Minister. He has had that ambition probably since his time as chair of the Republican thing. There are many in the Liberal Party quietly beavering away in far flung places with that objective also. He is a smart operator who has cultivated many young up and comers and they are strategically placed so that when the time comes he will get a lot of seemingly unexpected support. I think at the moment he is doing what 'he has to do' so that his parliamentary colleagues are sure that he is a true blue liberal.

Jason

9/10/2010Normank, Yes Turnbull M compared to his comrades should be a member of "Mensa",what he needs to do is go back to back bench and either get the numbers or get out.

Macca

9/10/2010Malcolm Turnbull may be intelligent. IMO he isn't all that bright at all. However, he is as cunning and trustworthy as an outhouse rat. Necessary and mandatory qualities for his former and current professions.

Jason

9/10/2010D Mick Wier, I knew that about Turnbull but some or one on here holds him up as a "Bill Gates" type of figure all because he bought "ozemail" and if I remember correctly one John Laws used to sing it's praises, which would have shown up on the interests page for presenters no doubt.

D Mick Weir

10/10/2010cheers jason thought I might be teaching my gran how to suck eggs but well sometimes just have too chime in!! I seem to recall Turnbull was there for his money connections more than anything else. I am trying hard to recall some of the other 'names' that went in with Turnbull but for sure that MT was there for his skills in getting ozemail listed and getting investors on board. I think the technical expertise came mostly from the guy that edited Personal Computer magazine.

NormanK

10/10/2010Well committee, what are we going to put in the press release? Intelligent but not all that bright, cunning but not necessarily street-wise, no Bill Gates, ambitious, unethical, superficial and opportunistic. Sounds like leadership material to me. Tweety, would you mind typing that up and sending it to the usual outlets? (That's not being birdist, is it?)

D Mick Weir

10/10/2010I would only add 'well connected in the right circles'

D Mick Weir

10/10/2010and I've just clicked on Malcolms' problem - he's been put on a lo-fibre diet.

D Mick Weir

10/10/2010Some late night trawling has bought me this gem of a post by an economist!!!!! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/04/opinion/04krugman.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss Mr Murdoch knows no boundaries!

Hillbilly Skeleton

10/10/2010Good Morning All! I may be wrong here, but if my memory serves me correctly, one of the other major players in the OzEmail caper was our very own former Australian Cricket Captain, Steve Waugh! An astute cricketer and an astute investor. I think he came across Turnbull, not through the Liberal Party, as he is sympathetic to the Labor Party from what I've heard, but through the Republican movement. Actually, the similarities between the two men end there, as Malcolm put his profits into his Sydney social and political ladder climbing exercise, whereas Steve Waugh mainatains a more modest family abode and uses his wealth for charitable acts in India.

Hillbilly Skeleton

10/10/2010How desperate must you be to have to take up a job writing spam? Some of the stuff that comes through here is just silly. :)

lyn

10/10/2010Hi Norman K Thankyou for making me laugh early in the morning. Re your comment at 12:15 AM, I will answer later on, I am busy feeding my the bird friends just now. cheers

lyn

10/10/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] [i]Click Magnets, Mr Denmore, The Failed Estate[/i] When they get it wrong, they all get it wrong together and they can usually count on the punters having short memories http://thefailedestate.blogspot.com/ [i]Morgan: 55.5 - 44.5 to Labor, William Bowe, The Poll Bludger[/i] The latest weekly Morgan face-to-face poll has Labor’s two-party lead widening from 53.5-46.5 to 55.5-44.5, from primary votes of 44 per cent (up 3.5 per cent) for Labor, http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollbludger/ [i]Mapping Australia's blogosphere - identifying key influencers for communicators[/i],[i]Craig Thomler, EGov.Au[/i] check out his blog, Mapping Online Publics and particularly the posts, First Steps in Mapping the Australian Blogosphere and Mapping the Australian Blogosphere Some More. http://egovau.blogspot.com/ [i]Gillard's Folly, Gary Sauer-Thompson , Public Opinion[/i] When are the conservatives who hang out around Murdoch going to start doing public policy analysis as opposed to wing nut rants? Public policy analysis on water reform or electricity for instance. http://www.sauer-thompson.com/archives/opinion/2010/10/gillards-folly.php#more [i]What will it take for Australians to stand up and say " enough is enough"? Stop murdoch[/i] Rupert Murdoch is a cruel, vindictive, shifty, duplicitous despot who rules through fear and anxiety. http://stopmurdoch.blogspot.com/ [i]The Guide to the Draft of the plan to do something about the Murray, John Quiggin[/i] I’ve been working on this issue for 30 years, during which, despite a series of policy initiatives too long to list, http://johnquiggin.com/ [i]Cowardly world of bloggers , Townsville Bulletin[/i] Bloggers, on the other hand, represent nothing. They whinge, carp and whine about our role in society, and yet they contribute nothing to it, other than satisfying their juvenile egos http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2010/10/08/175671_opinion.html [i]Abbott to bravely visit Australian soldiers stationed in Hawaii, Turtle News[/i] Mr Abbott’s itinerary, which includes a trip to the four Australians posted in Hawaii, a reconnaissance mission to Waikiki, and a fact-finding mission to see an authentic Hawaiian dance ceremony, being run by the resort. http://turtlenews.com.au/abbott-to-bravely-visit-australian-soldiers-stationed-in-hawaii/ [i]The Kat in the hat, Celebrity Sentry,[/i] Stimulus packages are now given to political groups to stimulate interest in joining the minority government of Julia Gillard at any cost. http://www.celebritysentry.com/actors/the-kat-in-the-hat/

Sir Ian Crisp

10/10/2010HS, Ad Astra has barred me from having anything to do with the ABC. I am not aware of its structure and must rely on you and others to relate what is happening over there at Artarmon.

George Pike

10/10/2010Had to turn The Insiders off I'm afraid..couldn't stand to watch that pompous arrogant fraud Ackerman blabbering bollocks for one more second. How the ABC can lower it's integrity so badly by allowing such a despicable lying scheming deceiving thug to air his worthless views is beyond me!

lyn

10/10/2010Hi Ad As Predicted, as expected, pre arranged trip. They think we are stupid again, still: Abbott jets in to visit troops in Afghanistan, ABC 28 Mins. ago. Mr Abbott says he spent about 10 hours on the ground in Tarin Kowt. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/10/3034090.htm?section=justin

jj

10/10/2010Hmm, journalist, lawyer, merchant banker, politician - and how highly regarded are these 'professions'? Good to see you are back to you class/profession prejudicing. I would say having worked in the journo world, the legal world, the financial world and the IT world, it is an asset to have Turnbull in the parliament as he is very experiences in many different areas. But i suppose being a union rep is the most well rounded and 'honest' profession you can get into???

lyn

10/10/2010 [quote]having worked in the journo world, the legal world, the financial world and the IT world[/quote], There seems to be some worlds missing there.

jj

10/10/2010Oh and by the way, last time i checked Gillard had been a lawyer before entering politics...cant trust her either than i suppose.

jj

10/10/2010Let us all hope that this plan from the Murray Darling Basin Authority does not go ahead. it is an expensive and very damaging prospect for rural and regional Australia, and i wouldnt be surprised if this government decides to legislate it, as the Labor Party do not hold any seats along the Murray-Darling, whereas they are scared of losing seats to the greens in the cities, where people dont seem to understand where they get their food from. It is a bot hard for the Labor cabinet to grapple with the issues faced by the communities when they dont have anyone in their cabinet or caucus who represents anyone along the river. Just look a what Windsor and little Mr Sunshine have got themselves into!

NormanK

10/10/2010Let's not get bogged down in personal opinion - let an opinion poll do the talking. 2010 Professional Ratings for Honesty http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/07/05/2010-professional-ratings-for-honesty/ Image of Professions Survey 2010 http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2010/4518/ The union rep nonsense was shot down on a previous thread. It is worth noting - Nurses @ 89% ; Federal MPs @ 16% I'm off to the hospital to discuss water buybacks with somebody I trust.

D Mick Weir

10/10/2010Good Morning Swordspeople, Hope your dreams were'tweet and the morning fare didn't cause too many regurgitations! Sorry to hear about your breakfast being spoiled GP. I hear (see) the fish are biting well, unfortunately they mostly seem to be small fry! My dreams were about representative democracy and mad hatters tea parties and well tea and scones with economists, lawyers, journalists, pollies and sundry others make it difficult to make pies of the cream and strategically place them in certain faces. But I digress, back to the real world, as this thread is principaly about NBN, I am worried with so many (former) lawyers, economists, journalists bankers and sundry others representing us we could end up with a real mess of a hybrid cable and wireless communications system that will not even be half good for the real people.

Ad astra reply

10/10/2010LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/Lyns-Daily-Links.aspx

D Mick Weir

10/10/2010thanks for that link NormanK, it raises a question. If someone has been any combination of say, three or four of those rated do we add together their scores or do we get some clever possum to do a regression analysis to give a truer picture of where they really rank?

Hillbilly Skeleton

10/10/2010jj, So you'd rather the MDB dries up and blows away once the over-allocated water within it is sucked up by the Irrigators and Cotton Farmers, to the point where they have overextended the MDB beyond its limits and they have to cope with the massive regional dislocation that will result? Hmmm. So typically capitalistic and kleptocratic. Make your money today, for tomorrow you may no longer be able to...And bugger the environment.

Ad astra reply

10/10/2010Folks Thank you for your comments that arrived while we were at the conference dinner on the Cairns foreshore, and again this morning. I see that there has been a lot of comment about Malcolm Turnbull. [i]TPS[/i] has always maintained that notwithstanding all his attributes, if his heart is not in it, if he does not really believe in what he’s saying or doing, he performs poorly, argues unconvincingly, and is unpersuasive. There have been many pieces on [i]TPS[/i] about him. The one that gathers together several of these is [i]The Turnbull endgame[/i], which you may care to review. http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2009/08/06/The-Turnbull-endgame.aspx

Ad astra reply

10/10/2010D Mick Weir Everyone should read the Paul Krugman October 3 piece in the [i]NYT: Fear and favour[/i]. It exemplifies all we have been saying about Murdochracy. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/04/opinion/04krugman.html?_r=2&partner=rssnyt&emc

Ad astra reply

10/10/2010Lyn It was a near-certainty that Tony Abbott would try to erase his [i]‘didn’t visit the troops in Afghanistan because he did not want to be jetlagged for his meetings with conservatives in the UK’[/i] gaffe by doing so on the way home. One of his media mouthpieces, Piers Akerman, was quick to point out on [i]Insiders[/i] today that Tony wanted to mix with the troops rather than the brass, although the [i]ABC[/i] reported that he met [i]”senior Australian and Afghan military personnel”[/i] whatever that means. Laura Tingle pointed out that it would have been an affirmation that Australia’s approach to Afghanistan was bipartisan if he had gone along with Julia Gillard, and went onto say that there were signs that bipartisanship was under strain, and that the Coalition might chose to go in different direction. George I share your disgust at Akerman, but I persisted so as to hear all the pro-Coalition, anti-Labor utterances he mouthed. Why does the [i]ABC[/i] still engage him? I have written several times to Barrie Cassidy to point out that Akerman’s presence reduces [i]Insiders[/i] to tabloid status, but nothing changes. We should be thankful for the presence this morning of the ever-sensible and balanced George and Laura.

George Pike

10/10/2010The Krugman piece proves one thing for sure..the great US constitution, (and probably all others), is absolutely worthless when it comes to handling extremely dangerous threats that entities like Murdoch pose to the democratic principles on which it is based. An entirely new section needs to draughted into the constitutions of all countries to ensure that Goebellian style propaganda camapaigns and all other forms of media interference into governance are declared anti-constitutional and a diabolical crime against the national interest. The penalties for carrying out these crimes should at least entail lengthy prison sentences and the forced sale of all media assets by those involved.

D Mick Weir

10/10/2010good afternoon jj good to see you back and in fine form as well. you just might have a point about the current government not having any members along the Murray or Darling rivers at least in Victoria or NSW. However within the ministry there is a bloke who was one of the most highly regarded ministers for agriculture and I am sure that person is keeping a 'weather eye' on everything to do with the water situation.

D Mick Weir

10/10/2010George, it would seem that where once "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel" it is appropriate to say "The National Interest is the loudest call of a scoundrel"

Ad astra reply

10/10/2010Folks My wife found this piece in her [i]Business Spectator[/i] email titled: [i]BT’s lesson for Conroy’s NBN[/i], which is an interesting read. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/BTs-lesson-for-Conroys-NBN-pd20101006-9XRNF?OpenDocument&src=kgb If you can access it, you will see that it illustrates what this current [i]TPS[/i] piece has been saying, that the fast broadband debate is contaminated by unbalanced arguments that do not paint the whole picture. As you begin to read this article you will get the feeling that the Government’s NBN proposal is too expensive – ‘suckling pig’ in fact – yet all the people may want is the cheaper ‘risotto’. By the time you reach the end though you will see while the ‘Cornwell scheme’ disappointingly is not suckling pig, its risotto characteristics might not be all that satisfying either. This article by Rob Burgess highlights the need to consider an array of variables in attempting to reach a balanced conclusion and decision on how to proceed in what is a very complex issue. Those who underestimate the complexity do us a disservice.

jj

10/10/2010HS, Good to see you are an informed contributor to the water debate...chuckle. I do not oppose there being a tightening of allocations to ensure the river regains health, and neither do the irrigators. What you dont seem to understand is that there has been a massive drought over the past 10 years. Irrigators are only issued their allocations after the water authorities in each state determine the health of the river. During the drought years only those with high security water licenses actually received water during these years (that is the major towns, and about 1% of total farm irrigation license holders). Most people in this district received no or very, very small water allocations during the drought years; so no it was not them who caused many of the rivers to dry up, it was the fact that IT DIDNT RAIN! The debate may seem very simple to you; buy back most of the water and the river will be fine, but tens and hundreds of thousands of jobs rely on the MD; 40% of the food you buy is grown in the MD; a lot of the clothes you wear would have been grown in the MD. As for the stupidity in the expense of the proposed plan. Instead of using $6 billion to buy back water entitlements along the whole of the two rivers, why not use the existing architecture at no cost; that is the allocations system. You could setup a board in each region to look at the flows going into the catchment every fortnight with a minimum environmental flow as the guide, and determine the water allocations for the license holders in the catchment (which they pretty well do anyway). This would save the billions of dollars and still get the same environmental return, plus the farmers would be able to access water as they do when the water levels in the river do run above the minimum environmental flows. Sure we need to do something, but it has to be done in a cost effective and fair way; allowing farmers to keep producing our food, and the environment to regain some of its health. As for the minister in charge...god i wish he would just disappear, i mean what is he going to say? "Look this is just a draft plan", "this is not the governments plan", "there is consultation to start", i mean he is just wasting time by doing sky agenda and lateline. Oh and i didnt get an answer, is Gillard trustworthy? She was a lawyer after all, and according to you guys those men and woman cant be trusted, no matter what they do later in life.

George Pike

10/10/2010I think the government's idea of rolling it out, and making relevant changes as they learn from that process, is the only viable option for the introduction of a national broadband based communication system in a country this size. The Opposition's proposal is just more of the same old higgledy-piggledy strategies that have been used since Telstra was privatised and we know from experience that the resulting systems just doesn't work. It is fine from the mainland city centric viewpoint, but hopeless for the regions...I can tell you that from experience as can AA! No-one on the planet can tell you what the NBN will look like, feel like, cost or be capable of finally delivering when it is complete. It is a not only a work in progress, it is a system in development. We know for sure that it will deliver far more equity in health services, economic access, education delivery and just pure old quality of life improvements for ALL Australians..so whatever else comes along is cream on the cake. Improved efficiencies in rollout strategies and processes will almost certainly see the final cost of delivering this project come in far below current estimates. The cost of replacing the older systems that the opposition wants to run with will be far greater, especially in loss of economic activity, loss of health system access, loss of education opportunities and loss of investment through inadequate communications systems. Like AA says, those who underestimate the complexity are kidding themselves...and the dynamic environment surrounding the whole paradigm of broadband communciations will ensure that those complexities will only increase as time goes on. To drown it because we don't understand it, and run with something we know is mediocre at best, is truly bizarre however. All I can say is, thank God the right party came to office!

D Mick Weir

10/10/2010jj, good comment about water and I will comment further after a bit of consideration, your comments have set my mind whirring thanks. Before I go off for some 'real work' I will comment on JG being a lawyer. I happen to believe that we have too many lawyers in politics. Our reps are theoreticaly reflections of our society so I ask where are all the taxi drivers that could be pollies? or for that matter street sweepers, posties, take your pick there are many under represented occupations in politics. However my original question was [i]"Hmm, journalist, lawyer, merchant banker, politician - and how highly regarded are these 'professions'?"[/i] and NormanK provided a link to answer that question. [b]Note that[/b] the list comes from an [b]Opinion Survey[/b] and just because those opinions surveyed formed that list doesn't mean I agree (or disagree) with the rankings. Each one of us here is likely to rate each mentioned profession in a different order and so what! I sometimes converse and even socialise with lawyers and they are mostly dedicated, down to earth ctizens it's just some are a bit misguided as, for example, some barrack for Collingwood! My son informs me though, that one of those 'pies supporters has at least one redeeming feature in that he loves Holdens. Go figure! We are all complex creatures but most of all we are Aussies and well I guess sometimes that 'larrikin streak' can overtake all of us and we poke fun at pollies and well anyone who gets a bit too self important for their own (and sometimes our) good.

Ad astra reply

10/10/2010Folks I've just posted [i]Grog, do come back - we need you[/i] http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2010/10/10/Grog-do-come-back-e28093-we-need-you.aspx It's a beautiful afternoon in Cairns so we're off for a walk for a couple of hours.

Ad astra reply

10/10/2010Folks I'll leave this piece open for comments about the NBN, but invite you to leave your comments about Grog on [i]Grog, do come back - we need you[/i] http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2010/10/10/Grog-do-come-back-e28093-we-need-you.aspx

Hillbilly Skeleton

10/10/2010Well, jj, if you have the answer to the problems of the (over)allocation of water permits by the States, which, as far as my limited(chuckle) knowledge of the situation goes, is the problem that needs a solution to enable the continued viability into the future of the MDB, as well as farm dams just getting bigger and bigger and bigger as the years roll by, thereby coralling an ever greater amount of what would have run off into the MD, then become actively involved in our democracy and go along with your solution to the travelling roadshow that will be the Consultation Committee. While you're at it, could you also tell the Committee of the MDB Commission how they can get the irrigators to hurry up and cap their irrigation ditches to prevent the evaporation of so much water which would be of more use flowing into the Murray, the Darling, the Murrumbidgee, The Namoi, the Gwydir, and any other river that has water taken from it across the MDB?

jj

10/10/2010HS, On the farm dams, im not sure if you know but farmers actually get a tax rebate for building them, as it makes their properties more drought proof than what they were. So yeh, it may be a good idea to stop paying farmers to build them, but where are they going to get their water from then? The irrigators cannot afford to do it individually, that is why the $5 billion dollar fund was setup by the feds. The government has been very slow in offering out the money to improve water efficiency, including the sealing, and piping of irrigation channels. irrigators themselves despair at the amount of water lost through evaporation from the Menindee lakes in the south of NSW. They are shallow and very poor storage's. Just by increasing the environmental flows needed before the irrigators get allocation could help solve the over allocation part of the equation, plus allowing the farmers to take care of the good years still. Then the investment in infrastructure and the improvement of the lake system could help improve the amount of water lost in both the storage and irrigation areas.

Macca

10/10/2010Let me get this straight; Spend taxpayers money on infrastructure to support irrigators=good Spend taxpayers money on a national broadband network=bad. Apparently subsidising farmers, who have been sucking the tax system dry for generations is ok. Building an infrastructure, akin to the national highway network, a big waste of money. Gotta hand it to the neo-cons....they're pretty smart.
What does two plus 1 equal?