Electronic Frontiers Australia today supports Board Member and University of Queensland lecturer Dr. Sean Rintel’s argument for increased public consultation in the upcoming NBN strategic review in the face of criticism from Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull.
Dr. Rintel made his argument in a piece for the The Conversation discussing the recent online petition calling on the Coalition to reconsider their plans for a Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) in favour of a Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) NBN, and Mr. Turnbull’s response. Mr. Turnbull responded to the petition by saying that while the NBN debate was not over, it was one of the main issues in the general election and that the Coalition had won the election.
Mr. Turnbull’s complained that Dr. Rintel’s use of “democracy has spoken” in double quotation marks was misleading, arguing that he had never used that exact phrase. Dr. Rintel has acknowledged this and edited the article to remove that direct quote. EFA acknowledges that this change is more precise but we agree with Renai LeMay in Delimiter that the substance of the article is not altered by the removal of double quotation marks. Mr. Turnbull’s reaction is rather extreme and, indeed, does little to acknowledge the level of public interest in a FTTP NBN and Mr. Turnbull’s dismissive reaction to that interest.
EFA believes that Dr. Rintel’s piece is an accurate description of events surrounding the petition. We frequently enjoy his informative analysis of technology and social media issues in various formats, including on the The Conversation. Dr. Rintel is a life member of EFA and frequently contributes his expertise to assist us in fighting for digital freedom, access, and privacy. We greatly appreciate his commitment to these goals.
EFA welcomes Mr. Turnbull’s commitment to a strategic review of the NBN. Most importantly, we look forward to the opportunity to contribute to such a review. True public consultation will, as Dr. Rintel argues, enhance the transparency, value, and public support for the outcome. We are particularly pleased with Mr. Turnbull’s statement that the review will be conducted “openly and honestly”, without spin or politics. We agree that hard facts will make the debate “much better informed”.
EFA congratulates Mr. Turnbull on his party’s election victory and his appointment as Minister for Communications. We look forward to working with him and, new Attorney-General George Brandis, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and the Coalition Government to improve digital freedom, access and privacy for all Australians.