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Transparency Required For $37 Billion Aussie Broadband Deal 62

destinyland writes "Freedom of Information Laws have been successfully extended to Australia's $37.5 billion broadband internet project — a 100 mbps fiber network covering 94% of the Australian population. The massive National Broadband Network had originally been classified as exempt from Australia's Freedom of Information laws, which Australia's goverment argued would impose 'a competitive disadvantage' on its operating company. The Opposition and Green parties pointed out that freedom of information was essential, since the NBN Company would be operating as an internet monopoly."
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Transparency Required For $37 Billion Aussie Broadband Deal

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  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday February 25, 2011 @03:41AM (#35309976)
    One the one side transparency should be part of every major infrastructure project. It provides a way to judge the government on how well it's doing spending money rather than squandering it on red tape and poorly worded contracts. Knowing this government it will cost more than the $37bn they projected.

    On the other hand the whole quest for transparency is coming from the opposition as they are desperately looking for any excuse to try and sink this project. Their vision of the future is some magical wireless that apparently will break the laws of physics or something and will provide this speed to all Australians without infrastructure costs. Oh and rather than a government funded project they will achieve this simply handing billions to Telstra our biggest government funded monopoly, and also the ISP with the poorest pricing models in the country. This is also disappointing as the opposition communications minister is the only one really qualified for the title, but he also seems to be in magical wireless land.

    If the opposition manage to sink this project as a result of somehow convincing the greens and independents that it is not worthwhile as a result of this information, I'm going to be pissed.
  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Friday February 25, 2011 @04:42AM (#35310162)

    What the government fails to realise is that this only becomes a monopoly when privatised. Most government run utilities are in essence a monopoly and as long as the liberal government doesn't in the future turn around and privatise the national broadband network it won't be a monopoly but a utility.

    Its been in the NBN plan from the start that NBNco would be privatised a number of years after completion to recoup the costs (pay off the govt bonds being used to build it). It's about the only part of the NBN plan I disagree with.

    OP is right, this is a scare campaign run by Abbott and Turnbull (why did Peter quit, I always like the idea of saying that Abbott and Costello ran the country). They know the NBN is popular and have no reasonable alternative.

  • by williamhb ( 758070 ) on Friday February 25, 2011 @04:52AM (#35310192) Journal

    But why does the government need to have trade secrets along with the usual military and diplomatic embargo on information?

    Because it's an investment that they are determined is a good idea, but it's very hard to prove there will be enough of an economic return. Open up the accounts and they'll get assaulted from all sides -- the Liberal party complaining about the debt burden, the Telcos complaining about unfair competition, etc etc. Realistically, the NBN is being funded in the hope that having a western English-speaking country with almost universal fast broadband access, companies will choose to deploy here first, found the company here, and turn technology from a big net import to a big net export as things deployed here first get re-exported around the world. As a technologist, I think it's a good bet, but it is one that is darned hard to prove in a business case -- expose it and the polticial flak from taking a punt with $40bn will sink the project and condemn Australia to continue importing most of its technology. At the moment, even most things that are invented here are incorporated in the US because that's the market the founders want to build a business in -- 10 times the size of Australia and with comparable infrastructure. So even if we invent it, it usually still ends up as a foreign company selling technology to Australia, and a balance of trade problem, as the US-incorporated company does the bulk of its hiring in the US. We need to change that, and making it attractive to found the next generation of technology companies here -- making Australia the first market a founding start-up will target, and consequently where they will incorporate -- is a good way to start.

    In short, my opinion is that it's a great bet because even if worst comes to worst, you still end up with a useful utility. But if the bet pays off, you get both a useful utility and growth and diversification in the economy. But you'd never get that past an opposition politician or a businessman with a vested interest in it failing.

  • by OzTech ( 524154 ) on Friday February 25, 2011 @07:02AM (#35310670)

    With respect. You are a numb-but, otherwise known as a "muppet".

    If you haven't realised or woken up to the fact that the NBN is really a smoke-screen thrown up the the Grubber-mint as a back-door way to totally control Internet access within our country, I suggest that you scour the fine pages on Slashdot and just take a quick look at what has occured recently in other counties where the Grubbermint has had absolutely no control over the pipe leading into their fine land to inform the general population.

    In case you are to think to understand, the NBN is Labors back-door mechanisim to control the flow of information in and out of this place because they didn't get it past the general population when they used the old American trick of Motherhood and Apple-Pie when wrapped into the blanket of kiddie-porn and terrorism the way the Yanks seem to continually do.

    Make no bones about it. The NBN has nothing to do with access. It is about "control" at any and all costs. With a Grubbermint as the Naitional ISP and ultimately controlling the pipes, what more or less would.could you expect?

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll