To this end, I thought publicly decoding his statements and interviews might illustrate my opinion, even help the debate.
Tim Lester in Fairfax media, wrote an article based on a video interview [09:54] ("Breaking Politics") on 15-March-2013. The NBN questions start around 5 minutes.
Summary: Turnbull made a single commitment, so unusual an act it caused specific comment. The rest is noise, FUD and hyperbole.
From the article:
Malcolm Turnbull has promised to release the Coalition's plans for a national broadband network ''months'' before the September 14 election to allow for scrutiny of the policy and its costings.Turnbull has made a commitment to release something by July-14th. Unusually, a real statement.
Even Lister is moved to comment this is the first time Turnbull hasn't just used the weasel words: "in good time''.
''You can never criticise me for not providing a lot of detail,'' Mr Turnbull said ...Wrong, that is all he's ever done. This is deliberately misleading and disingenuous at best.
''Australians will have more than adequate time to consider our policy and debate it.''Noise... This sounds like a statement but contains NO information or commitment.
What's missing is the five fundamentals necessary in this debate:
- The precise Demand Growth model used.
- The precise Supply Side Growth model informing the limits of each technology, with the guaranteed service parameters, vs 'headline' or aspirational: entry-level sustained peak-hour bandwidth, maximum access rate and sustained throughput, minimum latency and commercial access arrangements and charges.
- A geographic demand, need and roll-out model, including the percentage of premises each technology will cover. (vs NBN Co's 93% FTTP with max 25% aerial).
- Firm costings, if not detailed, then with Expert opinions on the Risks, Relevance, Accuracy and Upgrades possible.
- The user "affordability" and plan-pricing model.
Lister inserts this phrase in support of the Coalition position and devaluing the Government's commentary:
Minister Stephen Conroy has previously accused Mr Turnbull of having ''half-baked broadband thought bubbles'' rather than a plan.
I think it rather exactly, if colourfully, describes Mr Turnbull's statements and approach.
Lister continues by letting Turnbull reiterate the Coalition Playbook (unsubstantiated Speaking Points):
''The cost of this NBN, in reality, will shock people. If this NBN were to proceed with its construction on the basis of the government's plan, it would be likely in my view, and it's not an uninformed view, to take over 20 years to complete, and a hundred billion dollars,'' Mr Turnbull said.
''This is the most reckless exercise in commonwealth investment . . . in our history. To embark on a project like this with no budget, no cost benefit analysis. They have never said there is a limit to what you can spend.''
There is NO evidence or any plausible analysis outside the Coalition Playbook that supports any of these assertions, let alone demonstrates how the cautious NBN Co business plan might become an uncontrolled Defence Project. The Coalition has run a whole slew of irrelevant claims like these before.
This is a massive overstatement and only hyperbole: it's sole purpose is to engender doubt where NONE should exist. This is classic FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) contributing nothing to the discourse.
Turnbull and Abbot should just claim: "The NBN will cost you a Trillion Billion Dollars and make your Grandchildren's Grandchildren live in poverty trying to pay it back."
Mr Turnbull also said he doubted anything in the Coalition plan would surprise people.
''We will speed up the roll out. We will deliver the completion of the NBN sooner and at less cost to the Commonwealth and therefore of course, it will be more affordable to users,'' he said.
Empty claims, endlessly repeated. In the style, "We will pull a rabbit out of a hat and via magic and mystery prove We are Right and They are Wrong!".
How are Turnbull-Fletcher going to be quicker, cheaper and more affordable? Through Private Enterprise Magic, eliminating Waste, Inefficiency and 'extraordinarily' expensive technologies.
There are two things wrong with this Pulling a Rabbit Out of a Hat claim:
- NBN Co is employing the Private Sector to do the rollout. There are only a very small number of companies in Australia that do this work, and a limited pool of sub-contractors to use.
- Are Turnbull-Fletcher thinking they'll import 100-200,000 workers on 457 Visas "to get it done, quickly, cheaply and efficiently"? That'd see an electoral backlash like none before!
- The roll-out delays were due in the main with Regulatory and Third-party/contract issues and roll-out problems have been due to the private contractors not fulfilling contracts.
- What happens when the Rudd-Conroy Expert Panel assessment of 2009 is proven correct?
- Just What is the BIG Secret that the Coalition knows that the best networking Experts in the Country didn't? [Shorter "What does the Coalition Know that the Experts don't?"]
- Is the Coalition Plan just their usual "Privatise Profits, Socialise Losses", handing all NBN Profits to the incumbent Telco's (and their astonishing Net Profit Margins) whilst having the long-suffering taxpayer, or consumer, take on all unprofitable services and costs.
- More Coalition vs Expert Panel pieces: here, here, and an analysis of Why FTTP is not 'massively expensive' at all.
This Overselling FUD approach might work in a courtroom with tight deadlines and a single event, but does NOT stand any analysis, critical or sympathetic when this is a lot of time for commentator to examine and break-down the "claims".