Reply to Pete on the ALP vs Coalition on the matter of the NBN and next election

ah fuck, it’s taking me too long to get around to trying to shrink this down. I just need to get this out of my “to do” box. I’ll understand if you don’t get around to reading it. heh

Aaaaannnd double fuck… it’s not letting me post to facebook cos it’s too long.
So i resort to posting to a blog i decided to create for this
So the below is a longwinded rant that was a reply to my mate Pete who called me “Julia’s Bitch” for linking to articles about how shit the Coalitions NBN Plan was. I wont post is comment here in full since it was not posted it a completely public forum.

—————– anyway here it is below ———————–

Ah Pete 🙂
Julia’s bitch eh? Yet the irony of it all is I actually despise the Labor party and the current Labor government AND Julia Gillard (although certainly not because she’s a woman or a ranga). There’s good reasons I quit the ALP in disgust and never went back. It’s a horribly flawed and, I feel, corrupt organisation that is rotten in the head. Yet, I cannot shake the fact that a Liberal coalition government run by Tony Abbott will be orders of magnitude worse for this country. Especially if they win the next election with a massive majority that will cause them to crow about a massive mandate and …

And thus we come to the inherent problem with a political system that reinforces the dominance of a two horse race. You end up, by default having to give some level of ‘support’ to the lesser of two evils, which nonetheless still puts one in a position of ‘supporting evil’. Which again is why I think it’s so important to support minor parties and independents as a counter balance to the dominant two parties and why I’ve thrown my lot in with the Pirate Party (I’ll try not to turn this into a ‘Yay Pirate Party’ reply though). We are lucky we have a less constrained system than the USA where a vote for anyone but the major two parties is a vote thrown away, fortunately we have preferential voting system rather than first past the post. This of course means that a vote for a minor party is not a vote ‘wasted’ because you can still ultimately determine which of the lesser of two evils you can live with. My point in that I guess is I won’t be putting Labor as “1”… but since id prefer them to the Libs they get a higher preference.

Insofar as the need for faster internet, fibre to the home, NBN etc etc goes. It goes beyond wanting faster downloads. Yeah I want that, and realistically, I’m in the orange area on the rollout map – construction has started here and so I’m most likely going to get an NBN connection before the election comes around. So I’m good.

Part of the issue with the NBN is less about whether a person can download fast multimedia, but about ensuring we can take advantage of future developments in technologies that will rely on the internet. (Let’s consider ‘smart’ infrastructure regarding the more efficient use of resources like electricity and water. Sensor networks for monitoring traffic flows, public transport usage, electricity usage with smart meters, temperature monitoring, health monitoring for elderly etc. Remote delivery of medical services, instead of isolated folks having to travel for hundreds of miles to see a specialist they could do it remotely. Centrelink interview? Teleconference. Want to reduce government spending, consider how much money could be saved by halving the amount of staff in remote Centrelink offices by enabling certain interviews to be done remotely. Working from home in a range of industries gets a whole lot more practical as well… and has environmental benefits of getting cars off the road, which cuts emissions. Education benefits with online delivery.)

But it’s not just about speed perse, but about equity of access, reliability and fairness. The internet over the coming decades will change from being a luxury to being an essential utility. Already if you cannot do things online you are at a disadvantage. Tax returns, banking, government services, online submissions of forms etc. Can’t get to a medicare office? Do it online. As local service delivery options for these things contract, we will see greater reliance on being able to do these things online. Not to mention social discourse and political activities etc. And if you can’t do it online, you are at a disadvantage. If we are still relying on a copper network with all its faults and inconsistencies of access, general reliability, reliability of speeds etc then you end up with slabs of the community who are unable to take advantage of the same opportunities, engage with civil society, access the same services and access government services in the long term. It turns into an equity issue and an equity of access. As we rely more on the internet to do day to day activities, the more the internet becomes a utility where fair and equitable access should become a guaranteed service.

You said yourself:
” but the fact is Australia is massive with bugger all people in it. The cost of running fibre to the premises divided by the number of people is much higher, therefore we have higher Internet costs. Private enterprise hasn’t ‘failed’ us, it’s just not worth their while to build the infrastructure themselves, so why would they?”

This is the crux of the issue isn’t it… by the nature of scale of it and the less appealing it is to private enterprise to build it, the more necessary it is for government to step in and do it themselves. That’s essentially one of the key roles of government. That’s why we had a government run monopoly of Telecom for phone services. Otherwise we would not have had a universally accessible phone system. Well, the phone system is outdated and needs to be upgraded to become an internet system. So it’s up to government to take on the big infrastructure projects. They don’t NEED to be profitable, they need to deliver a beneficial service to the community. (snowy river scheme, roads, rail networks etc… not profitable, but necessary/beneficial to the country while being inordinately expensive)
So anyway, it seems like you overall generally agree that in principle an NBN is not a bad thing, but that we can’t afford it and that the problem revolves around the incompetence of Labor.

You said: ” could have been done cheaper and faster ” …How?
I will gladly admit that NBN co is behind schedule and likely running over budget. But Tony Abbotts alternative is not a viable alternative plan at all. You are paying almost as much, for a FAR inferior product. They are still talking Billions and billions of dollars that “we can’t afford” (then why are they willing to spend it as well?) and yet their plan doesn’t factor in other costs that come with their plan such as having to renegotiate contracts with Telstra, repurchasing and/or re-leasing the copper, ongoing maintenance and replacements costs of the failing copper network, and the power costs of the “nodes” (with the associated environmental costs incumbent in that as well, FTTP doesn’t need the powered node boxes). If they are going into the election with no intent of following through the plan at all, then it’s an enormous bait and switch of a campaign that makes “JuLIARs” lies about carbon tax etc pale in comparison. (What was that about John Howard and his “core promises” and “non-core promises”… yeah the Labor party has a monopoly on not lying, John Howards nickname of “Honest John” was originally intended to be ironic)
http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4622176.html

I’m not about to say that NBN Co can’t have done things more efficiently, or can’t be getting it done more quickly etc and that there aren’t problems with meeting targets etc. The way the’ve handled contractors could probably be better and im not about to say there’s no problems… But i’d feel much more confident with a Liberal plan that perhaps addressed those issues and concerns rather than a plan that is founded upon lies and complete disregard for the facts and an ideological motivation to thrown the baby out with the bath water…. at what I cannot help but perceive as actions very much at the behest of Rupert Murdochs News ltd’s desire to retain a monopoly on content delivery services. http://nbnmyths.wordpress.com/media-myths/ I mean the News ltd/Liberal estimate of $94b is a complete fabrication that not only assumes a perfect storm of worst case scenario outcomes, but that is the same worst case scenario outcomes were applied to the Liberal plan, you’d have the same cost blowouts! (http://www.zdnet.com/libs-kick-nbn-policy-own-goal-but-can-labor-convert-7000013781/ http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Background.pdf http://delimiter.com.au/2013/04/11/94-billion-nbn-its-a-nice-unproven-soundbite/ )
http://delimiter.com.au/2013/03/08/hypocrisy-the-australian-attacks-abcs-nbn-objectivity/

Anyway, this is getting fucking huge! And I’m not sure you’ll have time to read it… gah.
Anyhoo…

I did want to point out. You say:
(hmmmm… School funding? Roof batts?)

As if just mentioning these two programs are shining examples of ALP government mismanagement. And yet, they are less an example of ALP govt mismanagement than they are shining examples of 1. Media beat-ups in the Murdoch press that target the ALP and, 2. Examples of the ALP incompetent inability to respond to media and opposition misinformation campaigns and their all to quick tendencies to collapse like a deck of cards and fall on their own sword as soon as something seems to start playing negatively.
The Roof batts had flaws… but the big thing about it was “oh noes! the ALP is burning down our houses!” Yet the FACTS are that PRIOR to the ALP batts programs there were 1 fire per 765 installations/1.3 fires per 1000 installs. Yet during the program there was 1 fire per 6158 installs/0.16 fires per 1000 installs. So in other words the batts program, during which the dominate media narrative was “omg, the ALP is burning down our houses” was actually 8 times safer than before the program begun. Basically prior to the batts program there was pretty much No industry oversight and formal training etc, but such stuff was implemented during the program which actually increased safety and lessened the rate of fires per install. But due to the massive increase in total installs there was an increase in actual fires, but the key is that now these fires which totally passed under the media radar before, suddenly became newsworthy and created an illusion of a dangerous fire hazard as a result of an ALP policy. Essentially the Media took up the Abbott opposition narrative of bungling and disaster and the ALPs problem and failing is that in the face of negative media they collapsed like a house of cards instead of actually defending a policy that was not only successful and worked but that was actually safer than before the program. This is part of why I dislike labor. It is dominated by party functionaries who hold too much unaccountable power internally and when something that ‘plays bad in the talkback radio demographic’ comes to the forefront, instead of fighting for the truth of the matter, they get scared of unfavourable polls and fold. The program was actually successful, not only did it actually increase safety, it made the industry more accountable, it reduced carbon emissions and made thousands of houses more energy efficient, and kept some people working during the worst moments of the GFC. Where there were problems with the program such as underestimating demand and with some unscrupulous operators getting in on the action, as much a case can be made that such things are relatively minor and are more of a departmental problem which could have occurred just a likely under a coalition govt than a Labor one.

The programs was actually a success, the failure was the ALPs inability to stick up for it and inability to combat the negative press. Read these, please:
http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/10/19/insulation-fire-risk-%E2%80%93-the-data-is-in/
http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/04/23/peter-garrett-is-exonerated-nobody-cares/
http://inside.org.au/a-mess-a-shambles-a-disaster/

Now with the school funding thing I assume you mean the School Halls? Again, like the batts it was more a bad publicity thing with the ALPs inability to sell it in the face of an overwhelming media narrative that preferred isolated bad stories to the facts. This response is WAY To huge now, so some links: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3802396.html

Of note is the independent Orgill report (http://deewr.gov.au/ber-implementation-taskforce) into the scheme, gave it a resounding endorsement: http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/12/16/the-ber-outcome-time-to-correct-the-record/
with only 0.9% of all the projects failing the ‘value for money’ test. Again it was the Opposition narrative of ‘oh what a disaster’ that the media ran with, with cherry picked examples of where there may have been less successful implementations, but with the VAST majority of perfectly ok ones getting little to no coverage. The successful aspects don’t sell papers, AND don’t fit the narrative of an openly partisan aggressive News Ltd that has Tony Abbott in its pocket.

So now we get to debt. Basically the debt is NOT THAT BAD. and We CAN afford it. We are one of barely a few Triple-A rated economies right now. Largely thanks to the resources boom yes, but not exclusively so. The GFC cannot be discounted and it is important that a government be willing to run into debt during times of economic crisis. Again, that is part of what government is for. Had he had a coalition government during the worst times of the GFC we would probably be in the midst of a recession now with massive unemployment.

The stimulus packages helped stave that off, and infrastructure programs like the NBN are continuing to help by keeping people working.
Surplus at all costs is dangerous, yet the coalition have a blind ideological commitment to that sort of thing, at the expense of all else. Take a read of this: http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/12/11/christopher-pyne-and-the-dangerous-fantasy-of-surplus/
and besides, the Australia debt is not that bad. http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/03/27/heres-the-real-story-of-australian-debt/

Have a look at this and compare Australia to North American, Japan and Europe: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Dette_publique2011.jpg

sort this table by govt debt as % of GDP: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt

Note that the Liberals usually talk about debt and stuff as raw dollar amounts which can sound scary, but has no context. Debt as % of GDP is much more meaningful and deficits are not always bad.

have a read of this: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/in-depth/debt-phobia-hobbling-chance-to-borrow-and-build/story-fnaporv2-1226493165389 (if it’s paywalled- google the title and follow the link) ” The government’s “obsession” with a surplus is causing it to waste an unprecedented opportunity to borrow at cheap rates and build infrastructure, top economists say.”

Quite frankly, now is the time to take advantage of our favourable economic position, to not do so now, while we CAN afford it, is to pass up and opportunity that may not present itself again for a long time.

Note: this was written before the latest revenue info etc and the NDIS levy and all that, if i start down the path of trying to account for all that then it’ll be another few weeks before this gets posted and i just need to get rid of it, hehe. But in regard to revenue, this paints a clearer picture than what the Liberals seem to want to say about it all: http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/drum-piecebudget-not-all-declines-are.html

The NBN so far is the first real policy the Liberals have actually released anything substantial about. They are so far making all their mileage from the free passes being given to them by Labor’s stuff ups and a hostile media. But if this shambles of lies, misinformation and incompetence is the best they can provide for their first policy release, it does not bode well for the rest of them. And honestly i think they release as little as they can. And when they do get into govt, I worry they are going to go hell for leather with a scorched earth campaign of cutting numerous programs and so on at the expense of the average Australian. The Libs have a long wish list of radical reforms they I bet they are itching to implement with a perceived mandate of a crushing electoral victory. And honestly, much of it mirrors the austerity type cuts that are happening in Europe and the US and that only serve to widen the gap between rich and poor and deregulate so as to line the pockets of their wealthy mates. The shit Gina Rinehart would love to get away with should leave any Aussie quaking in their boots, and I worry that Abbott is all too happy to facilitate that rubbish. http://www.independentaustralia.net/2013/politics/plutocrats-puppy-tony-abbotts-speech-at-ipa-birthday-bash/
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/04/australias-tony-abbott-man-everyone-and-no-one

And on that whole austerity thing, the Libs are firm believers in the discredited policies being pursued in Europe right now and would have probably done the same stuff they did over there.

It’s now obvious that the policies are making it worse and the key study that these policies are based on has also been discredited. How many lives ruined, jobs lost and suicides committed as a result of an excel error in a flawed academic economics paper. Yet i personally cant shake the feeling that the Liberal party would still chase that course of action, even if Hockey may say otherwise:
Check these out:
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/who-is-defending-austerity-now/275200/
http://theconversation.com/economists-an-excel-error-and-the-misguided-push-for-austerity-13584
http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/did-harvard-economists-excel-error-lead-economic-austerity-185852805.html
http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-consequences-of-dodgy-data-20130419-2i5q0.html

And now people over there are paying for it, while the super wealthy laugh all the way to the bank. I mean the US banking system is still not only not held to account for the shit that went on in the financial crisis, but the US Govt is essentially on the record as saying they are hostage to these banks and these banks can get away with what the want… now, Neither the Liberal Party nor the Labor party are really too tied up in all that, but the ideological tilt of the liberals sway them far further towards that sort of Thatcherite/Reaganite financial deregulation that started this whole mess to begin with:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/12/hsbc-prosecution-fine-money-laundering
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/gangster-bankers-too-big-to-jail-20130214

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/everything-is-rigged-the-biggest-financial-scandal-yet-20130425http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/why-is-nobody-freaking-out-about-the-libor-banking-scandal-20120703
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-11/kohler-a-lack-of-money-isnt-the-problem/4123510

All it takes is a quick look at the new NSW and QLD Liberal govts to see the crazy shit they are pushing. There’s much to hate about Labor, take for example the data retention proposals that I’ve spent ages complaining about and opposing. The problem is, Abbott and the Libs pretty much support those too, but they wouldn’t even have run the public submission process the ALP did, they’d have just rammed it through. The ALP may suck bad, but the Liberals suck even harder and will do shitloads more damage to the country and i worry even send us spiralling into the type of economic inequality we are seeing in Europe and the US, because they hold dear the worst aspects of what all those governments have done wrong.

I’ll stop here, but coalition policies on the NBN aren’t even the worst of it all, support for Coal Seam Gas?… climate change denial? Inhumanity toward Refugees/Boat people? Anti gay rights/gay marriage? Massive industrial relations changes. ALP is not much better on most of all that either, but Abbott is going to be like a bull in a china shop. I’d almost half expect him to abolish medicare and switch us to a private health care system.

How’s my leg? Pretty bad but improving. Bloody thankful I dont live in the USA or a third world country. Worried Abbott will try to take us that way.

http://sortius-is-a-geek.com/?p=2870
http://sortius-is-a-geek.com/?p=2883
http://newmatilda.com/2013/04/11/slower-pricier-less-honest
http://www.theage.com.au/it-pro/government-it/coalitions-nbn-will-need-ongoing-costly-upgrading-experts-warn-20130410-2hkah.html
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/nbn-tech-expert-questions-broadband-assumptions/4622250
http://lpa.webcontent.s3.amazonaws.com/NBN/The%20Coalition%E2%80%99s%20Plan%20for%20Fast%20Broadband%20and%20an%20Affordable%20NBN%20Summary.pdf
http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3802396.html
http://www.nbn.gov.au/nbn-benefits/government-initiatives/environment/smart-grid-smart-city-initiative/
http://www.nbn.gov.au/nbn-benefits/digital-economy-goals/health-and-aged-care/
http://www.nbn.gov.au/nbn-benefits/digital-economy-goals/education/
http://www.nbn.gov.au/nbn-benefits/digital-economy-goals/government-services/
http://apcmag.com/life-in-the-nbns-world.htm
http://delimiter.com.au/2013/03/08/hypocrisy-the-australian-attacks-abcs-nbn-objectivity/
http://australiansforhonestpolitics.wordpress.com/
http://www.zdnet.com/libs-kick-nbn-policy-own-goal-but-can-labor-convert-7000013781/
http://delimiter.com.au/2013/01/17/fact-check-the-nbn-wasnt-a-media-stunt/
http://delimiter.com.au/2013/04/12/turnbull-openly-lying-about-nbn-says-conroy/
http://americablog.com/2013/01/libor-scandal-shows-failures-of-deregulation.html
http://nbnexplained.org/wordpress/technical-points/the-wireless-debate-fibre-vs-wireless/