Liberal MP Paul Fletcher says the Labor approach to broadband policy has been driven by politics. Well, as they say, it takes two to tango.
The argument — and it’s not a new one — is that Labor’s decision to build fibre to the home was a knee-jerk reaction when Telstra effectively blocked its plans for a fibre-to-the-node solution. It’s a suggestion I made in 2009 in a Twisted Wire episode called Making it up as they go along.
In this week’s program I suggest to Fletcher that Labor was put into a tight spot back then because Nick Minchin, shadow communications minister at the time, was opposed to a structural separation of Telstra. If you can’t split up Telstra who else is going to build a wholesale only, open access network?
These days both sides of the house want to see Telstra split up. They both agree that fibre is part of the future. The only bone of contention is who builds the network. If Malcolm Turnbull had been communications minister a few years back, they might even have reached agreement on that.
While Fletcher argues the solution we’ve arrived at is risky and expensive, economist Steve Keen, from the University of Western Sydney, says the outcome is a good one. He sees no other approach than the one being taken with the NBN.