Federal Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull was at Carindale PCYC last Friday for the Bonner Communications and Broadband Forum hosted by Federal Member for Bonner Ross Vasta MP.
The main topic was the National Broadband Network (NBN) with some audience questions turning discussion to other topics such as Turnbull’s party leadership prospects. This post gives a run down of some of the discussion at the forum.
In relation to the NBN, Turnbull says his main concerns are that it’s far too expensive and a government monopoly.
“All Australians agree with the objective of making sure that everyone in Australia has access to very fast broadband at an affordable price,” Mr Turnbull said.
“One of the benefits we’ve seen in the last decade or so is the cost of broadband has come down dramatically, that’s due to both technology and competition.”
“Those of us who are involved in business or have any common sense, know that if you have a big government monopoly, that does not bring about lower prices.”
“It’s too expensive and too slow because they [the Government] have chosen to take the fibre into every single house and business and apartment in Australia. That is extremely expensive and it takes a very long time,” he said.
The NBN’s model is fibre to the premises (FTTP) and the coalition is pushing for fibre to the node (FTTN). For more information from both sides visit the Federal Government’s NBN FAQ section and Malcolm Turnbull’s porfolio updates.
Mr Turnbull discussed the coalition’s plans to “bring the fibre further into the field, closer to the premises … so that the length of copper between the end of the fibre and the customer’s premises is sufficiently short to enable you to run high speed broadband.”
He faced a hurdle last week when shadow treasurer Joe Hockey went on radio and “managed to seriously damage months of Turnbull’s hard graft” – ‘Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition gagging’ (June 15 2012).
Turnbull should have been happy with the general warmth towards him from the forum crowd. One man at the beginning of his question to Turnbull, referred to him as “certainly the most popular politician in the country” which received a loud round of applause.
Another attendee said “I’m really worried about the leadership problem with you and the other one. Please don’t muck it up.”
After a few leadership queries and comments Mr Turnbull thanked them for the compliments and confirmed “there are no circumstances in which Tony won’t lead us to the next election.”
Climate change was raised with the common “I’m not a scientist, but …” comment from an attendee who said she’s concerned about his stance on the issue.
“I’m worried when you do become leader as I’m worried where you would take us with that,” she said.
“I’m not a scientist but have for a lot of time studied climate science and I really think if you listen to the skeptical scientists and you really understand what they are saying and why they are criticising what is going on, separate it from the mass persuasive techniques … How many people actually question that?”
“I just wonder how what sort of due diligence you put in to actually looking at the skeptical science, understanding what they are saying, why they disagree,” she added. “I don’t know what you base your opinion on. It’s not warming, it’s actually cooling.”
“Have you set a benchmark for what would have to stop happening before you would reconsider your opinion? Your opinion really worries me terribly,” she said.
Mr Turnbull responded saying “it is not a question of my opinion”.
“The point you make about the planet cooling not warming, there are a lot of agencies – the National Oceanic, the Atmospheric Administration of the United States and obviously the CSIRO that just totally disagree with you on that,” he said.
“Tony has famously said some very dismissive things about climate science, but says he was taken out of context.
“Our policy does recognise this is a problem we have to address,” Mr Turnbull said.
Towards the end of the forum an attendee commented on the communication of issues to the public and that many people are unaware of how these issues affect them.
Mr Turnbull chatted about some of the difficulties in political communication and his experiences with blogging and Twitter to address misinformation in the media.