We all know that the NBN polarises people – generally people are either all for it or all against it. But following last week’s Four Corners special on the network, Ian McAuley at the New Matilda has pulled apart the seven myths the opponents to the NBN are perpetuating to try and dismantle the national project.
It’s a must-read article for anyone who’s interested in the future of Australia’s Broadband infrastructure, either for or against it. The seven myths are all claims we’ve heard countless times before from detractors and McAuley dismantles them comfortably. Included in the list are:
1. The private sector can do it
2. The NBN should be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis
3. Nobody really wants the NBN
4. That the Internet is becoming a wireless internet
5. Other countries haven’t built an NBN, so we shouldn’t either
6. The project is necessarily uneconomic, for if it were economic the private sector would provide it
7. The NBN is almost Soviet in its desire to take over from private enterprise
The New Matilda articles goes into a lot of detail about why each excuse is indeed a myth, but it’s the comparison to the Snowy Mountains scheme 60 years ago that’s most poignant. Costing £400 million – or about four per cent of GDP at the time (the same as the NBN today), the scheme went through the same political bickering the NBN is suffering now. Developed by the Chifley government, the Snowy Mountains scheme was vehemently opposed by the Menzies opposition – until it was completed under the Menzies government, at which point Menzies did his best to take credit for the project. As McAuley concludes:
Commercial opposition to the NBN is understandable, if not defensible. What is harder to understand is the stance of the Opposition. Perhaps the Snowy Mountains Scheme has a message about the realpolitik of national development, for at the Tumut 1 Dam is a plaque commemorating Menzies’ opening of the project in 1959. He went on to take advantage of every opportunity to associate himself with the project. It’s not hard to imagine a time in the future when Prime Minister Turnbull is projected across the nation, in 3D holography, celebrating another milestone for the NBN.