This week is good news for Australian internet users. Both the cyber-safety (covered yesterday) and broadband issues have had their moment on the election stage. We now know the details of all the major parties' broadband policies and can do a side-by-side comparison. Which one will deliver the best outcome for Australia's future?

Refreshingly, the Labor and Liberal broadband policies differ greatly, and represent a very different vision for Australia's competitiveness in the 21st century.

The Government is betting big on the importance of telecommunications in Australia's future, with up to $43 billion committed to the National Broadband Network in what amounts to the largest ever infrastructure project in Australia's history. To recap: The plan involves laying fibre optic cable to 93% of Australian homes, with minimum speeds of 100mbps (upload and download). And just yesterday, NBN Co, the government-owned corporation managing the rollout, upped the ante by promising connections of up to 1 gigabit . Those living in areas where the fibre cannot reach will be provided with either wireless or satellite service at a minimum of 12mbps.

NBN Co will remain government-controlled until around 10 years after the rollout will be complete. This entity will have monopoly control over the national fibre network and will give equal wholesale access under the law to all service providers ensuring a level playing field and more competition for consumers.

Telstra have been a bit of a thorn in the Government's side throughout the whole process. They basically refused to bid on the original proposal, and appeared set to compete with the Government plan rather than partake in it, rendering the whole scheme somewhat questionable. As the NBN became more ambitious, it also became more crucial to get Telstra on board. This was no easy feat given that Telstra's key asset - the legacy copper network - is to be replaced.

A combination of carrot and stick has been employed to solve this problem. The carrot is $9 billion to compensate for the copper network and for access to to Telstra's existing infrastructure of ducts, pits and exchanges in order to lay the fibre. Telstra have also been released from their obligations under the Universal Service Obligation, a saving estimated at a further $2 billion. The stick is the forced separation of Telstra's retail and wholesale arms by legislation and the potential to block the company from bidding on new wireless spectrum. With Telstra now set to become NBN Co's largest customer, the 800 lb gorilla appears to have been tamed for now.

Concerns around the NBN are that no rigorous cost-benefit analysis has been made public, and about the potential costs to consumers. With wholesale prices floated around the $40-$70 a month it has been suggested that end users could end up paying up to $200 per month for a fast connection that takes advantage of the new network.

The Coalition's plan is much less ambitious. Clocking in at $6 billion, the main aims of the policy are to scrap the NBN and spend $1 billion on fixed wireless networks in outer suburban areas, $700 million for new satellite services, and $2.75 billion for a new fibre backbone.

The most glaring difference between the two plans is the last-mile connections to homes and businesses, which under the NBN plan will be fibre optics capable of a gigabit and beyond. Under the Coalition's plan, existing copper and coaxial cabling will remain the predominant connection from the local exchange to the premises. With these technologies already pushed close to their theoretical maximum, it will be left to the market to upgrade this crucial infrastructure. If you live outside the inner suburbs of the capital cities, you're probably out of luck.

The practicality of duplicating the fibre backbone infrastructure is also questionable, and the Coalition do not explicitly address Telstra's role in their broadband world.

There also appears to be little in this alternative plan for Australian businesses who will suffer even more than end users by having to make do with what can be squeezed out of the legacy copper network for the foreseeable future. The only beneficiary is the short-term bottom line of the budget. Industry has described the Liberal plan as a "grab-bag of measures from the past" and it is hard to disagree.

The Greens have promised to support the NBN project, although they too have called for the business case to be released. They most notably differ with the Government in that they want NBN Co to remain in public hands rather than be privatised some time in the 2020s after the network is in full operation. Nobody wants to see the Telstra situation repeated, so it seems sensible that if a sell-off occurs, it does so at least with the explicit approval of Parliament.

The NBN is a big project that shows ambition and long-term vision, and this is to be applauded. The lack of a cost-benefit analysis, however, is indeed concerning. At $2000 for every person in Australia, we need to be sure that the investment will pay off. I believe that ultimately it will.

Firstly, the money is being spent to create an asset that will have lasting value, and under the Labor plan will be sold with an expected return on investment of 6-7%. Borrowing money to build an asset that will bring long-lasting returns for the nation is neither reckless nor wasteful - it's a sound investment.

Secondly, while less tangible, the benefits to the economy of the new services and entrepreneurship that will blossom when gigabit broadband is ubiquitous are real and undeniable. A good proportion of our economic growth comes from productivity gains which will no doubt be accelerated by the advent of the NBN.

While the NBN promises exciting new services such as remote medical consultations, e-learning, and e-government, the as-yet unimagined business models and services are likely to be just as important. That's why we feel that this is one of the most important issues being debated during this election.

30 comments

  1. I am a bit disappointed that Labor's commitment to internet censorship (aka mandatory internet filtering) is not even mentioned in this piece. So far Labor's filtering attempts appear to be limited to blacklisting some web sites on behalf of some shady committee. There is absolutely no guarantee though that the scope of filtering won't be expanded to some level of content filtering as a way to satisfy hysterical parents or as part of already shady anti terrorism legislation once internet censorship is seen as "accepted" via an election. Neither is there a discussion of what 100mbps (just to name a figure that is floating around) actually means once subject to government filters that haven't even been tested properly (as you'd know).

    Comment by chris on 14 August 2010 at 01:11
  2. I'm divided on the issue at the moment, some of the claims in this election have to be ignored, and I have a feeling that the same will apply to this gigabit claim by the NBN Co.

    That is not to say I don't want to see fibre in the ground, as speed of light communication across the continent is just too useful in the modern information age to not have. This is probably our equivalent of a single track that crosses the country. While the age of steam and coal have passed, the same effects on our nation are still sought with the new technology. If it's as bad as presented in the 7pm Project, then what we'll see is a physical crash of the media and hardware under Abott. Stock up on canned food and bottled water while you can.

    Labour, as they've not had the best run of projects, is still thinking ahead, and even as someone who will not vote for them I have to admire that. I think every single project of this nature had its share of Ludites, and it's time that we stop listening to them with their claims of doom, gloom and ignorance, and took the chance to improve this country. It was not taken when we had a chance to reach the top of the list, worse yet it was forgotten until now.

    Comment by Leon on 14 August 2010 at 01:31
  3. Labor won't get the filter through the senate, the point is moot. Both Liberal and Green are voting against it. So yeah the NBN is now, for me, a bigger deal. I'm voting Green in both houses, but it's unlikely that Labor will gain many, if any, seats in the Senate.

    Comment by Morgan on 14 August 2010 at 02:08
  4. @chris: Given the many tens of thousands of words we've devoted to the filter recently, plus the fact that we run an entire website devoted to opposing it (to which a link is present on all pages including this one), we felt the issue was already well known to our readers and concentrated purely on the merits of the to infrastructure proposals.

    Since we covered the competing cyber-safety policies yesterday, and gave the filter first place on our Election 2010 policy guide, I hope there won't be too many people in the dark about Labor's censorship policy or our stance towards it.

    See: http://efa.org.au/ausvotes2010

    Comment by Colin Jacobs on 14 August 2010 at 02:22
  5. The more government spends, the more freedom we lose.

    Comment by Jimboot on 14 August 2010 at 06:18
  6. I am becoming profoundly disappointed by the organisations that represent themselves as the 'leadership' of the long-running campaign against internet censorship.

    My disappointment began with Get Up. It has used the internet censorship campaign, or so it seems to me, to suck up public funds, gain street cred, bask in publicity... and when it came to the crunch of this election, do something between zero and diddley squat.

    This has surely sent a message to the ALP that despite treating people concerned about internet civil liberties and privacy like dirt, it can get away with it... at least as far as the (over-hyped) Get Up is concerned.

    Now come's the statement and accompanying interview by Colin Jacobs of the EFA... See: The Necessary Broadband Network

    The statement is more balanced than Colin's interview. Although Colin spoke well on the TV interview, his take home message was surely 'Vote ALP'.

    That's despite the fact that Labor is clearly by FAR the WORST at this election in terms of the EFA's core business,which is not to advocate for fast broadband, but is, on the contrary....

    "to protect and promote the civil liberties of users and operators of computer based communications systems such as the Internet, to advocate the amendment of laws and regulations in Australia and elsewhere (both current and proposed) which restrict free speech and to educate the community at large about the social, political, and civil liberties issues involved in the use of computer based communications systems."

    (see http://www.efa.org.au/about/)

    Increasingly I'm of the view that the campaign against internet censorship is because of grass roots determination that persists largely in spite of those who represent themselves as the leadership end of the campaign.

    I write this more in sadness than in anger. I'd very much like fast broadband too. But I want internet freedom more.

    Could we please have at least ONE organisation that reflects that perspective?

    WE do not 'have' to accept one to get the other. And no... Conroy's filter is NOT "dead in the water". That's absurd. The party that looks likely to win Government keeps re-iterating its commitment to the 'filter'/internet censorship.

    If I was a Labor strategist chatting in the pub with my mates after a long week, I'd say:

    "nice work guys... even though the free-internet talking heads grizzled a little (just like they had to to keep up appearances), they rolled over and grinned once the election campaign began. Labor will end up being able to quote Get Up and the EFA 'endorsements' in the last week... Just like we planned all along... And we didn't have to promise the suckers out there anything... Not a thing! We're even poised to keep their usage records... another bottle of vino? "

    Comment by Syd Walker on 14 August 2010 at 16:05
  7. Both the Sex Party and the Greens support the NBN and are against the filter.

    Comment by Womp on 14 August 2010 at 20:59
  8. @Sid Walker: Thanks for the thoughtful comment, though I'm surprised you see this article as somehow being an endorsement of the Labor Party - "vote labor" - coming as it does on the heel of a very active three-year campaign attacking them for their policies regarding internet censorship.

    I don't see it as our role to go to bat for a particular party, nor to harbour a grudge against one for all eternity. As an organisation representing internet users, it seems to me that a future with the NBN is clearly better for users than one without. Therefore, it would appear Labor has the better policy when it comes to building out broadband infrastructure. This article is about who has the better broadband policy, and I examined that question in isolation from other concerns such as the filter, data retention, ACTA, and any other issues we have been active in slamming the Government on. I think this is the right approach - the topic is important enough to be discussed on its merits, and we work hard to make sure that nobody is ignorant of the filter and the threat it poses to free speech.

    To put it another way: EFA has worked hard over many years to provide solid information and analysis, and whatever credibility we do have would be destroyed if we were to become merely some sort of anti-government or ALP-bashing organisation unable to provide unbiased advice on policy. Sometimes, the ALP will have good policies; the NBN may not be perfect, but it's definitely in the right direction. Sometimes it will be the coalition - see the post from the previous day about cyber-safety. I note that the Greens are for the NBN but against the filter, and this is reflected in our guide at http://efa.org.au/ausvotes2010 . Regardless, we aim to be fearless with criticism and fair-minded with praise, so long as our rights are safeguarded and the internet-using public benefits.

    You might be right about the TV spot - it's very short and so I didn't get much of an opportunity for a nuanced discussion, though I note I did get a chance to sledge the ALP for wanting "south korean speed with north korean censorship" (a line which I stole from someone's tweet), so it was hardly an ALP love-fest.

    Please get in touch if you'd like to discuss it further as I take all feedback seriously.

    Comment by Colin Jacobs on 14 August 2010 at 21:05
  9. Thanks Colin. In general I deeply admire what i've seen of the work of the EFA and you personally come through as a very articulate and effective advocate. Also, I appreciate that live appearances, especially with a format like that, are very hard to control. You can't script a message to perfection. In general, I agreed with what you said about the NBN FWIW.

    My concern is that we do still need an EFA speaking loud and clear about censorship, free speech and privacy. Get Up clearly can't be relied upon to fight these campaigns consistently and incisively. The EFA really is Australia's thin blue ribbon...

    In this instance I think the EFA came close to straying into electoral politics and quasi-endorsements on a matter external to its core business. Perhaps you could have asked to come on the show to chat about the NBN in a broader context of civil liberties issues?

    That would have jarred Labor's good news message - but would have used the oppportunity to leverage the EFAs core concerns. You could still have pointed out the positives of the NBN. The most popular option, Iimagine, among EFA supporters is an NBN with no 'filter', proper privacy etc

    Anyhow, hindsight is 20-20. Thanks for responding so quickly and courteously.

    Good luck to us all, as the Irish say :-)

    Comment by Syd Walker on 14 August 2010 at 21:24
  10. I tend to think of discussion of the ALP's NBN plans as largely pointless. I won't vote for traitors, no matter what bribes or inducements they offer me.

    Let's be honest anyway, the number of people in politics that are even remotely qualified to actually understand and formulate internet policy can be counted on one hand. The NBN is less a broadband policy and more an opportunity for Conroy to reward his mates with fat contracts - same old politicking, same old corruption.

    Comment by Stuart on 14 August 2010 at 22:52
  11. @Allan Lewis #15

    "You've begged the question there. I understand that Conroy has stated that it will not be illegal to bypass the filter, so that would undermine your point."

    It only undermines my point if you can take Conroy (and every subsequent government that follows) at their word. Good luck with that.

    One only needs to look at the grossly improper and dishonest way that Conroy has conducted himself throughout this debate - he constantly misrepresents the legality of RC content and has no qualms about smearing pretty much anyone with a paedophilia strawman argument. Is this a person you trust? I don't.

    "Moreover, your opposition to the filter implies very strongly a position that you will be the sole arbiter of what you will and won't view. My decision to bypass a filter similarly implies such a thing on my part. So what's the difference in our positions?"

    Two things:

    1) I believe the default should be free access, at which point individuals, parents, and organisations can all make their own choices about what they want to see and how they'll control that. Ideologically, I believe that people are responsible for themselves and their choices, and that it is not the role of government. I don't want or need a nanny.

    2) I don't trust the ALP (or politicians in general). You can make bypassing a filter illegal with very little effort, how do you make it illegal to bypass a filter that doesn't exist? If anything, I'd like to see laws that enshrine the right of free (speech not beer) access.

    "And you've still missed my point about voting for the Greens in the Senate. They'll stop the filter even becoming law in the first place."

    And you have missed my point that principles supersede tangibles.

    Ok, so the filter's (apparently) dead - so I should just pretend that everything leading up to this point doesn't matter? What about next time, the next big issue? I'm not about to reward bad leadership - the filter is still exactly where the ALP wants to take us, their policy hasn't changed one iota. I won't endorse that vision with a vote because it is fundamentally wrong (regardless of the fact that they cannot (currently) implement it). I'm certainly not going to reward them for not censoring when it is the Greens and the Coalition that actually stopped this travesty from occurring. The ALP made their damn bed and now they can lie in it - I'm judging them on what they *actually* did, not the baloney they are wheeling out for the election.

    As for the Greens, I have difficulty trusting them because of their endorsement of Clive Hamilton. It's probably going to take at least 'til the election after this one for me to forget about that.

    "There is nothing sneaky, underhanded or illegitimate about this. This is an open, honest and considered position I've taken here, and I'm availing myself of the institutions as they were designed."

    Nor did I suggest there was. You state you believe you have made no assurances as to your final vote, if that is the case then it is hard to see how you have broken your word.

    As for "availing yourself of the institutions as they were designed", so am I. I cannot decide actual policy under the system we have (barring referenda) so I must make a higher level decision. When it comes to voting, the choice isn't about individual policies, the choice is about who is going to make the best (or, in reality, least worst) decisions under all circumstances (remembering how long they are in power for - a lot is going to change in that time). I have to vote to my principles. What the ALP has done and how they have conducted themselves (barring Senator Kate Lundy, who has bent over backwards trying to broker a peace and deserves great praise for that) is dead against my principles - they are unfit to represent me, and I won't be voting for them because of that.

    "If your only point is to be anti-filter, I don't understand why you don't do the same. I'll stand to be corrected, but I think that this is not your only point here. Anyway, I will stand for the correction, but I won't argue this any further with you."

    As you correctly surmise, this is about ideological principles to me. The sore point in practice is that the ALP created this censorship policy, and the only way they are going to make up for that is by admitting to their mistake and correcting it - and this they have not done. The filter being dead in the water is a good thing, but it does nothing to erase that ethical black mark from the ALP record.

    As for arguing further, if you see something you don't like, be my guest. I'm a big boy. However, we are voting on fundamentally different grounds, and I think it is wise to be explicit about acknowledging that difference. You are voting on tangibles and I'm not. The outcome of the NBN is more important to you than the ALP's prior actions. I'm not going to fault you for having a different strategy to mine (if anything, it pleases me - as the election looms I'm getting more and more interested in gathering viewpoints, especially ones that diverge from my own).

    Comment by Stuart on 14 August 2010 at 22:54
  12. Recebtly I posted a couple of things on twitter in relation to this video that were unfair to Electronic Frontiers Australia. I said that EFA cared more about the NBN than they do about our online civil liberties.

    I retract that statement as it was untrue and I have also deleted a "Tony Abbott is Right" banner from the web that related to that statement but I also want people to know why I was annoyed at EFA's support for the NBN. The following is an email I sent to Mike Jones from EFA.

    'Hi Michael,

    Thank you for responding to my concerns. You say that no one has to vote Labor to see the NBN. That is incorrect. For people to get the NBN they need to vote for Labor in the HoR which is my main concern.

    I and I’m sure many others have sent emails and letters to Liberal candidates as per your ‘Lobby a Lib’ campaign, which I congratulate you on. I’m sure that many of those people also promised the Liberal Party their support if they opposed the filter but now people will go against their word and vote for the party that wants to introduce it, with EFA’s blessing.

    We all complain that politicians don’t listen to the people. Is it any wonder they don’t?

    We say ‘Hey Liberal Party, we don’t want the filter and we will support you if you come out against it’.

    The Liberals come out against it and people see that it’s now safe to vote for the party that wants to filter the internet because it won’t get through the senate.

    Can’t you see the problem with that?

    Next time we ask the Liberal Party or any politician to stick it’s neck out for us, and that’s what they have done, they’ll ignore us because we won’t support them when they do.

    Maybe I’m being a little righteous but I believe that when you give a pledge to someone, that you stick by it. Isn’t that what we ask of our elected officials?'

    Comment by Martin Eddy on 15 August 2010 at 06:05
  13. My conscience is clear on the "hey LP, I'll vote for you if you oppose the filter", because -- although I will admit I was considering a vote for them on this point alone -- I never promised them in any way that I'd do it. I'm glad I didn't. I've thought about my original tactic a bit more.

    The network is a multi-billion dollar investment in a physical asset that, once deployed, will not be ripped out and tossed away in favour of the new flavour-of-the-month. The filter is not. It can be simply turned off (or on![1]) and the financial investment is nowhere near the vicinity of that of the network itself.

    So my choice became voting[2] LP for crap infrastructure and a good filtering policy or voting ALP for a crap filtering policy and good infrastructure. Looking at it that way made it much clearer for me. The filter can be tossed. The infrastructure can't be.

    Moreover, the filter can be bypassed[3]; crap infrastructure cannot.

    In summary, the infrastructure is a far greater factor in my decision than the filter.

    Notes:
    1. Yes, I know that any dud legislature can just slap a filter on us as easily later as now.
    2. When I talk about voting ALP or LP, I mean which one to put last and which to put second-last. And this only matters if the count actually goes that far in my division (which it has in the past).
    3. There are ways to defeat strategies that bypass the filter, but that will flummox e-commerce and other important things. What worries me is that a future legislature won't understand or care and just do it anyway. Either way, however, it's still a choice between having this problem on good infrastructure or on bad infrastructure.

    Comment by Allan Lewis on 15 August 2010 at 06:34
  14. Here's a little fiction for pre-election week-end reading. Call it political fantasy in the tradition of Bob Ellis...

    http://sydwalker.info/blog/2010/08/14/the-third-m...

    Comment by Syd Walker on 15 August 2010 at 07:09
  15. @Martin Eddy #10

    I too agree that personal undertakings should be honoured (by the same token, I didn't go around shooting my mouth off making promises I can't or won't keep). The number of people that cannot seem to make a connection between their own poor behaviour and what they see in government is galling to me.

    Be the standard of ethics that you expect from the politicians - anything else is hypocrisy.

    @Allan Lewis #11

    Principles are more important than infrastructure. Sure, crap government can be bypassed - but then what's the point of either government or the law if you are only going to follow it when it suits you?

    Personally I'm sick of the conduct of politicians in Australia, I expect better, and I'm willing to put my vote where my mouth is, and there's no bribe big enough to alter that.

    (As a side note - do people *really* believe any of the speed figures being tossed around? Or the idea that we'll be getting anything other than the rip-off data volumes of today's market? This is Australian telcos we are talking about here - are people really that forgetful? The idea that either camp will deliver even 1/10th of their claims is about as naive as it gets - you might as well vote for the party that is offering unicorns.)

    Comment by Stuart on 15 August 2010 at 07:11
  16. @Martin Eddy #14

    "Principles are more important than infrastructure. Sure, crap government can be bypassed - but then what's the point of either government or the law if you are only going to follow it when it suits you?"

    You've begged the question there. I understand that Conroy has stated that it will not be illegal to bypass the filter, so that would undermine your point.

    Moreover, your opposition to the filter implies very strongly a position that you will be the sole arbiter of what you will and won't view. My decision to bypass a filter similarly implies such a thing on my part. So what's the difference in our positions? We both want to make our own decisions about what we see. But you'll accept a substandard infrastructure, whereas I won't.

    And you've still missed my point about voting for the Greens in the Senate. They'll stop the filter even becoming law in the first place.

    There is nothing sneaky, underhanded or illegitimate about this. This is an open, honest and considered position I've taken here, and I'm availing myself of the institutions as they were designed.

    If your only point is to be anti-filter, I don't understand why you don't do the same. I'll stand to be corrected, but I think that this is not your only point here. Anyway, I will stand for the correction, but I won't argue this any further with you.

    Comment by Allan Lewis on 15 August 2010 at 07:38
  17. @Womp

    The Greens also support Clive Hamilton. I find it impossible to fully trust them after that - I took their support of him to be a message to the ALP (at that time) that they were willing to horse trade on the filter. I'm not about to support people that believe it is acceptable to trade away my rights (especially considering they most likely would have traded them for lame environmental goals. I'm all for saving the endangered wombles, but throwing people's essential basic rights under the bus to do it isn't the way).

    Comment by Stuart on 15 August 2010 at 07:40
  18. I believe we'll get 100Mbps internet regardless of what the government does. I'd rather the government stay out of the industry as much as possible. The NBN is definitely heading in the wrong direction.

    Comment by Tinos Nitsopoulos on 15 August 2010 at 10:14
  19. @Tinos Nitsopoulos

    I don't have a problem with government involvement per se, but I do have a problem with this Government's involvement. They seem fixated on the NBN as a *political policy* rather than giving a damn about it as an actual network. How long have they been talking about it (especially about exactly how much they want to spend) without any costings or actual implementation plans? It's remarkably similar to how even after years of discussion nobody still has a clue as to what the practicalities of their internet censorship would be. It's like they never get past the high level pitch, they just run out of steam or something.

    Comment by Stuart on 15 August 2010 at 10:39
  20. A question on making it unlawful to bypass the filter: how can that be enforced? What's the difference between an encrypted packet and an encrypted packet?

    What if I'm on a publicly accessible WAP and want to tunnel to a proxy I set up at home because I trust DNS requests there and not on McDonald's WAP?

    Yes, I understand that making it illegal to bypass the filter would be a dangerous thing, but I don't understand how that can be done without basically screwing up all e-commerce, for example.

    What am I missing?

    Comment by Allan Lewis on 16 August 2010 at 04:27
  21. @ Allan, you can't. Short of proving intent to bypass the filter, any num,ber of methods and technologies are used for legitimate purposes that could be used or subverted to get around it.

    Comment by Leon on 16 August 2010 at 04:32
  22. @Allan Lewis

    I think what you are missing is that these kinds of laws are not applied universally, they are laws used selectively for the purposes of harassment. They don't have to make sense, be reasonable or be fair in that context. The potential for abuse here is enormous, but the potential for real crimes being stopped by this is nil.

    If you were on a public AP that I ran under the hypothetical legal climate we are talking about, then your secure traffic would be dropped by my routers. Any traffic I couldn't classify would be. Whatever you paid for your coffee is insufficient for me to risk a visit from the Government Thought Police. Businesses won't risk sharing your criminal liability - can you blame them?

    Comment by Stuart on 16 August 2010 at 04:54
  23. Leon, I think that's what I'm getting at. If they /can't/ make it illegal to bypass the filter, then what's the problem with bypassing it?

    But what if they somehow did it anyway? Why is it better to have that situation on shyte infrastructure than it is to have it on good infrastructure?

    If it's good enough to say that giving second-last preference to ALP over LP is a vote for a filter that can be bypassed or removed by legislation, then it's good enough to say that giving second-last preference to LP over ALP is a vote for vastly inferior infrastructure that will not be replaced/upgraded any time soon.

    It would really, really torque me off if we all decided that we hated the filter, voted in a mob that will give us crap infrastructure, and then had a filter legislated on us shortly afterward anyway. I am having trouble understanding the merit in this outcome.

    Comment by Allan Lewis on 16 August 2010 at 05:08
  24. Interesting point, Stuart.

    I wonder how many MitM attacks by dodgy public WAP administrators it would take to unravel such a regime, though. I can't see the banks standing still for it.

    Comment by Allan Lewis on 16 August 2010 at 05:11
  25. Allan: one is supporting Labor's sneaky attempt to get "election approval" of internet censorship, the other is a strong statement against internet censorship. I am surprised that you don't see a difference.

    Comment by chris on 16 August 2010 at 05:34
  26. #23

    Voting doesn't change any of that. Activism (hopefully) changes that.

    When your choices are Party A (a promise of filtering and a lot of carrot in the form of NBN sweet-talk that probably won't materialise) or Party B (a promise of no filtering that they will probably go back on the minute they feel safe to, and an NBN made out of duct tape) then the voting system is rubbish. What sort of choices are those? Do you believe your vote between these Pespi and Coke parties really matters in practice?

    I want more, a lot more, that what either of these pack of idiots is offering. I won't settle for censorship with my NBN because that's the only thing on the menu. Stuff that.

    The money I give to people like the EFA, GetUp! and (the best $100 I ever spent) Wikileaks does more to change the stale government of Australia than any vote I'll ever cast in an election will, period. I'm not going to agonise over casting my vote - the election is the politician's song and dance, and anything they get behind this enthusiastically is automatically guaranteed to be an empty waste of my time (that being said, whatever ability I have to stymie, harm, block, or otherwise interfere with the plans of those parties I dislike, I will freely exercise. My vote might be a mosquito bite, but I'll relish that little bite).

    Comment by Stuart on 16 August 2010 at 05:46
  27. @ Chris

    The thought of Conroy's smug face as he says "We have a mandate from the Australian public to filter the internet" pushes my blood pressure to stroke inducing levels.

    The whole spectacle of the winning party on election night makes my blood boil. It's a vulgar display of a lack of humility combined with egos big enough to pay land tax on. Most of us would rather have a paper cut than listen to the smug, empty self congratulations of these insufferable people.

    Comment by Stuart on 16 August 2010 at 06:11
  28. @ Stuart #27

    What about the thought of Brown countering with "and we have a mandate to stop their filter" as they toss out ALP's filter legislation? That would be a great FU to any "We have a mandate from the Australian public to filter the internet" that Conroy might come up with.

    Don't get me wrong. I despise the idea of the filter. But I will despise it more on tin-cans-and-string-DDI than on optic fibre.

    And yes, I do take your point about about the possibility that ALP will fluff up NBN delivery. But LP are promising to not even try it.

    Can I just reiterate that I'm only considering whom to put second-last on my ballot paper? There is no way that either ALP or LP will go first in this election, given the crap they've dished up. I'm talking about holding my nose and putting a number in a box at arm's length here. I've voted informal at the last few federal elections, but I've formed the view that that simply says that I'm perfectly fine with whatever the winner decides to do.

    Give me optional preferential voting, and neither ALP or LP would get a number on my paper.

    Comment by Allan Lewis on 16 August 2010 at 06:36
  29. @ #28

    The Greens don't get the air time that the majors do, and they never will, so an FU from Bob Brown is likely to receive as much coverage as every other intelligent thing he says - pretty much zip.

    The Greens sent a very loud "We will negotiate on the filter" message to the ALP when they put Clive Hamilton up for election. I don't trust the Greens not to flip when they have finally get real bargaining power. Whilst Brown is principled, he isn't the entire party, and at the end of the day he's a politician - he knows that whatever power the Greens get is more than likely to be transient. So if he wants stuff passed he's got a limited window and he's going to have to trade on *something*. I just hope that it isn't my basic rights that he chooses to do that with.

    Comment by Stuart on 16 August 2010 at 06:57
  30. Calling the NBN an asset is absolutely ludicrous and until any cost analysis has been done it isn't one. Has anyone realised it will take 8 years to implement, the internet was still a child 8 years ago, you think throwing all your eggs in fiber and spending an unimaginable amount of money on it is good policy? Imagine if everyone was forced to buy an HDDVD player a few years ago?

    Comment by Ben on 17 August 2010 at 05:22