Tony Abbott: Malcolm Turnbull Invented The Internet In Australia

Yep. He said it.

Maybe someone should stop Opposition Leader Tony Abbott from talking about internet from now until forever.

The Opposition Leader is holding a lofty policy discussion in Canberra right now in the lead-up to the 2013 Election, and in it he spoke briefly about his Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull:

"We have a strong and credible broadband policy because the man who has devised it, the man who will implement it virtually invented the Internet in this country. Thank you so much, Malcolm Turnbull."

Let's fact-check that for a moment, shall we?

Abbott is clearly referring to Malcolm Turnbull's time at one of Australia's first ISPs, OzEmail back in the 1990's. OzEmail came to be in 1992 when the editor of Australian Personal Computer sold his stake of the magazine to ACP to focus on his email service provider, originally dubbed MicroTex.

Fast-forward two years and Malcolm Turnbull enters the picture, investing in the company to the tune of $500,000. He later sold his stake for $57 million in 1999.

I don't see any internet inventing going on there. Just a smart businessman, doing his thang.

This quote is now on trend to become this election campaign's "I'm no Bill Gates".

The full speech is here.




    Well he is Mr Broadband.

      To thunderous applause from his audience! Not even an embarrassed look in sight!

        and to be fair, a lot of laughter. The audience got the joke.... how come you don't?

          yeah...I know, most of the people on here full on foamed at the mouth and showed that they have no sense of humour, as the joke went over their heads........
          will @lukehopewell admit he didn't get the joke, made a mistake and this article is just a slam on the Libs, cause they are the Libs and they are not the second coming of the messiah Rudd

          Exactly, he was joking, as you can clearly tell from the video - as such, you'd have to be an idiot or completely blinkered to respond how the author and most commenters here have. He cracked a "tech" joke in relation to the Al Gore gaffe - which in itself was also overblown by his political opposition at the time. Poor form, Gizmodo, poor form...

    And terrifyingly enough, we're on track to have this bozo as our next PM.
    He's like our very own version of G.W. Bush. whom I believe Howard was quite chummy with.

      I thought that was Howard?

        Nope. Howard was a scumbag, but he wasn't an idiot. Abbott and Dubya are just idiots.

          Sir you deserve more up votes!!

          You say Howard was a scumbag..... how? Please, for everyone who ever complains that Howard was a scumbag, nobody has been able to answer 'why'? Please enlighten us

            Remember 'children overboard'? Remember 'there will never be a GST under a Liberal government? Remember "screw the UN, we're backing Dubya?" Nah, i'm sure he's a top bloke, must have been 'that other' John Howard we're all thinking about.

              Yeah, that actor from Sea Change (or, my personal favourite, The Girl From Tomrrow)! What a scumbag he was....

            Off the top of my head:

            * He supported, co-funded, and evidently secretly conspired with Patricks to illegally sack their entire union workforce (
            * He arguably lied about the throwing of children overboard, likely put pressure on military personnel to corroborate those lies, and certainly pressured Defence officials to punish any personnel who wouldn't corroborate them
            * He refused to accept a group of asylum seekers into Australia that were rescued in international waters by the SV Tampa and which Australia was required to accept by international maritime law
            * He committed Australia to take part in a military action in Iraq in defiance of the UN and the will of the majority of Australians
            * He was either almost criminally negligent or deceptive in the AWB Oil-for-wheat scandal

            There's more, and to be fair, I think any Prime minister is going to have an amount of scumbaggery in their legacy (it's part of the job). Arguably, though, Howard's era included some unusually egregious, excessive and divisive acts of scumbaggery.

              He also tore incredible amounts of funding from schools, hospitals, mental care, roads, universities, and sold off everything that wasn't nailed down in order to show a budget surplus,

              Never mind that a country's budget being in surplus doesn't in any way show a strong economic portfolio and that the long term damage done from all of the selling and cutting is still not repaired today.

              Oh and he made it his personal mission to turn Australian politics into dog-whistle jingoism, whilst doing everything in his power to destroy unionism at its core.

              In his defence, his administration proposed the current gun legislation and the law for fencing in pools. Other than that, I'm coming up blank.

                And we haven't even gotten to Work Choices, yet. He also lied about continuing to follow the plan for bringing up compulsory superannuation contributions to 15%, restoring a massive burden on the public for funding the retirement of baby boomers, the huge negative effects of which we are only just starting to feel.

                On the other hand, his introduction of the GST was necessary, if duplicitous (Keating had been arguing for its introduction repeatedly while Treasurer). He also provided extensive support and aid for victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami.

                There's some good stuff, too. Just not enough.

                And off the top of my head;

                - stood up to the gun lobby to make gun ownership much harder to make life safer for all Australians

                - told the people whe would implement a GST before the election so they had a chance to vote for or against it

                - and to his everlasting credit, told Indonesia to get f...d and get out of East Timor and sent troops to help secure the freedom of the Timorese, who helped Aussies against the Japanese in WWII and were then sold down the road to Indonesia and opression by Labor in 1975.

                Yeah, Howard was scumbag wasn't he.............

                  My mistake. He did three good things . I should have included helping East Timor. I already said fun reform swimming pools.

                  He had already lied about the GST and when called on it made it public. So that's even.

                  Doesn't make up for the harm.

                  1. All your points were already made in this thread, as well as some other good things the Howard Government did
                  2. None of them refute any of the scumbag actions made by his Government
                  3. To quote from my post directly ahead of yours made 17 hours ealier "There's some good stuff, too. Just not enough".

              Oh and what about sending army tanks into Indigenous communities. What a superior asswipe.

              Lmao to sum it up u have it right! Scum bag who went to war with the workers of australia! Go k.Rudd 2013 bye bye abbot again!

              Don't forget tax cuts for the rich he gave, if it wasn't for that, the country would be in surplus by a fair amount currently.

              Howard and his clueless cronies were responsible for 10 years of negligent "Do Nothing" IT & Telecoms policy which left Australia so far behind the rest of the world we were a laughing stock.

              His last term as PM was the worst.
              Despite his obvious exhaustion, he reneged on his deal to hand over to Peter Costello.
              By putting his own ego and lust for power ahead of the interests of the Liberal Party he cost them the election. It served him bloody right that he also lost his own seat.

                they're old fashion people with no clue about technology and prefers copper wire over high tech.
                Didn't they also say women should stay in the house to raise children too?

          I get the impression dubya was an idiot, but not malicious. Abbott's an idiot and a scumbag.

            And a borderline Christian fundamentalist. We need that in a PM like a plastic bag on our collective heads.

          Pretty much this.

          Howard did so much damage to Australia's long term social cohesion; we still don't know the full extent. However, he was a very competent politician.

          and some mugs want this Idiot for PM - back to the 50's and wow he's amazing ahahahahahahahah

      Easy to fix, we all just have to make sure we don't vote Liberal.

        But then those idiots Labor get back in.

        Don't get me wrong, I want their NBN, but I don't like anything else they've done, and the constant internal fighting is beyond ridiculous.

        Can I just hide under a rock during the next election and pretend I don't exist?

          So everything else they have done is rubbish? Steering us through global economic meltdown, trying to address climate change and fossil fuels true cost, gonski, NDIS and a general increase n revenue to services that have been left to die. That's just a few (although I'm the first to admit they have done terribly with other issues)

            The Fair Work Act too.

            We may have survived the GFC, and our dollar soared as a result, but guess what? That wasn't necessarily a good thing. All the industries that relied on exporting goods suffered terribly. The local video game development industry almost died completely, almost every major studio has shut down. I've found myself out of work twice during this time simply due to the GFC. A lot of people think that it was a good thing we got through it relatively unscathed, and they loved the fact they could import stuff from the US for cheaper than they could buy it here, but look at it from the other side of the coin. MANY local businesses suffered BADLY due to what happened.

            Climate change/fossil fuels needed to be addressed, but not the way they did it. It's the highest carbox tax in the world by a significant margin. It was WAY overkill. Not to mention the fact that they PROMISED there would be no carbon tax then went back on their word.

            The internal fighting and the constant challenges at leadership didn't help things either.

            I stand by my statement that Labor are a bunch of idiots. The only good thing they've done is the NBN. But that does not mean I'll vote Liberal. I haven't voted for either major party in any election, and the next one will be the same. I think both major parties are twats.

              Are you a Greens voter; "All and Nothing", a Katter fan; "All hat and nothing", a One Nation Nazi; "All White or nothing", a friend of Family First; "We Think Nothing. Maybe. We don't know" or a Democrat denier; "Nothing".

              Or perhaps someone that votes for the most sensible independent (it's a shame the two best ones are leaving).

              dear God, did you just try to tell us that surviving the GFC better than any other western country "wasn't necessarily a good thing"?! Sigh. Our country is doomed. You lament some dearer imports and some loss of video games?! Do you have ANY F*CKING IDEA what the GFC was like for actual countries who were caught up in it?! You privileged little twat. Seriously. That's the real problem wit this country. We've had it so good, we dig our own graves and we don't even realise it.

                He did not say that surviving the GFC was a bad thing. The only reason we got through was demand for minerals from China and that is the only reason we are doing ok still.
                The Howard gov did not create the resource boom but they led a period of AU that was very easy for miners to expand and setup shop, they balanced the business and unions so that it was still competitive to invest and did not treat the mining companies like an ATM or credit line to tap whenever they wanted. Howard went too far with workchoices. They did lead a very stable period for AU that let us get in a great position. Keating before him has more credit for the Howard period than Howard himself but Howard kept the ship steady and any labor gov would have ruined the head start and great changes Keating got through.
                Labor these days has gone on a class warfare binge, been infested by the greens, wasted so much money on bungled crap. Many other governments fight their strong dollar constantly but this gov did nothing. They focused on stuff like keeping their union buddies in Jobs while letting the industries that we actually have competitive advantages in almost fade away. They have hooked up all the backwaters to the NBN first while our future software and design rockstars are plodding along on ADSL.
                I don't trust them to spend 40 billion dollars properly. I dont want an NBN if it comes with a Labor gov attached to it.
                Who do I think has been the greatest AU PM? Keating.

                You lament some dearer imports and some loss of video games?!

                No, that's not what I said. Read what I said again. I said businesses that rely on exporting for their revenue suffered terribly (nobody wanted to import from Australia anymore, it was too expensive), and many LOCAL video game developers shut up shop (overseas publishers didn't want to invest in Australian studios anymore, it was too expensive). I work in the local video game development industry, and I lost my job twice during this period because the studio I was working for closed down. MANY local businesses that relied on exporting either downsized dramatically or shut down. LOTS of people found themselves out of work purely due to the strength of the Australia dollar.

                But sure, go ahead and keep living in your little bubble and keep telling yourself that the high Australian dollar was a good thing. The thousands of people that lost their jobs as a result of it may disagree with you though.

                You privileged little twat.

                Pull your head out of your arse and work on your reading skills before you go accusing people like you have.

                Last edited 29/06/13 10:03 am

              to be fair the loss of our video game industry is in no small part because of the grievously bad management of the international publishers who owned most of the companies that failed

              Not to mention the fact that they PROMISED there would be no carbon tax then went back on their word.

              They promised that if elected they would form a committee to investigate options for pricing carbon, and wouldn't introduce a carbon tax. But they weren't elected, and neither was Tony Abbott. Instead, they had to form a minority government with three independents and a Green, who forced them to introduce a carbon tax as a condition of forming a government. Similar to the conditions imposed on British Prime Minister David Cameron in his minority government with the Liberal Democrats. Similar in fact, to just about every Western democracy. Australia is rare in that minority governments are the exception, because of what essentially remains a two-party system. That indicates who the real idiots are (I'm the same as you - the closest I've gone to voting for a major party is that I voted Democrats once).

              As a result, what many Australians consider a lie and breach of electoral trust, is in most democracies a standard and accepted practice in the formation of government. Parties are generally judged on how they adhere to their cornerstone policies as part of their announced electoral platform (i.e. the stuff they say when they hold their campaign launch, with the associated policy outline document with some banal name like "Forwarding Australia's Future" or "Retaking prosperity" or something).

              I'd argue that Labor has done at least two other good things - the Apology, and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. There's other stuff that might be good or might be bad, depending on your ideology, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks those two achievements were bad or stupid actions.

              I can't believe you just completely ignored the mention of the NDIS, one of the most important pieces of legislation. I have a disabled daughter so this is very important - a Liberal government would never have considered it.

      as opposed to that other bozo, you know... the recycled, born again, "I've changed, trust me" one with holes in his back from friendly fire... yeah right.

      If Rudd manages to win, they'll knife him again just prior to the 16/17 election, they have an inglorious track record.

        maybe it's all just a ploy to get australia on side with Rudd then when he gets in, BOOM internal takeover again!

        haha if you think they would knife kevin again and go through what they have this term, then i think you are mistaken.

    I need a big tool, but I don't have any in my shed. I need to call Tony Abbott!

    this guy really needs someone to do his fact checking for him...

    If you don't really know the answer than please don't provide an answer.

    He also said that Toowoomba will get it's bypass if he gets in, yet another outright lie..! :(

      Oh god does Toowoomba ever need such a thing. Would be great if they had one.

    Given the obvious parallel with Al Gore's (much distorted, see claims about his role in the invention of the Internet, does this make the limitations of the Coalition's NBN-lite plan an "inconvenient truth" for Malcolm and Tony?

    if you vote for these idiots, you deserve everything that happens to you!

      I agree, however the problem is that the main alternative haven't exactly proved themselves to be any better.

        Well, they did sort of keep the economy one of the strongest in the world through the financial crisis, when most other countries had massive recessions. And unlike the LNP they have somewhat competent leadership and some policies that are actually workable.

        But apart from all that, yeah, not much better.

      what? reducing debt, cuts to the oversided public sector, tighter immigration policies where there is reduced chance people will continue to die, scrapping the carbon tax, better regulations to assist small businesses, unity in government.....yeah I like that idea

        They won't reduce debt...they have higher spending promises and also propose to remove taxes. Cuts to the public service is going to help our economy isn't it? And the fact that if you take out military its actually shrunk in real terms under labor (libs like to hide that little fact). Their immigration policy is almost identical...except they want to do the illegal in turning back boats.....what's more likely is they will loosen immigration for cheap labour to satisfy their paymasters. The carbon tax isn't a tax and is actually going to be market traded quite soon and fits their normal economic policies...but instead he wants to pay polluters from our taxes (how he's funding this is anyone's guess) they do have the same reduction target of which the NBN and the reduced power consumption will help us achieve. And small business might find their costs increase as he tries to source funds for his maternity plan (let's see what the big business tax raises and how big they will end up having to set the size of a company to fund it)

        Unity in government is a facade....for all the lack of unity in this one Gillard was the number one policy passing government in Australian history. Obviously the current messy system worked well (and even saw independents policies adopted....that's a pretty big plus for government)

        Yep....still looking for a single positive....just one?

        Framing the refusal to accept refugees (it's not immigration, for starters - immigrants and refugees are two different things, though some refugees may become immigrants) as a humanitarian act is incredibly low, cowardly and downright sinister. Many of those refugees (and many more besides) will still die. In all likelihood, more refugees will die. But instead of dying from drowning and making Australia look responsible, they'll die from diseases and injuries associated with being kept in massively overcrowded refugee camps. But that'll be other people's fault, and we don't have to think about it, so that's fine, right?

        The carbon tax will disappear in July 2015 even if Abbott does nothing at all. The earliest he would be able to force a double dissolution to get the legislation to rescind it through is around November 2014, at the expense of a completely unnecessary election and joint sitting of parliament and the cost of buying back the carbon permits from businesses and the cost of introducing his "direct action plan". That's the weirdest damn method of reducing debt I've ever come across, I reckon.

        The current government has been cutting the public sector at a rate of 2.5% per year since they got elected, except for this year when it was cut by 4%. That's a 15.59% reduction over 6 years. Much greater than the rate of reduction the Howard Government introduced.

        The last time the Coalition introduced "better regulation to assist small business", the result was Work Choices, which wasn't exactly their finest hour.

        Last edited 28/06/13 6:22 pm

    By Abbott's measure, Turnbull also virtually invented software piracy in this country (see OzEmail vs Trumpet Software)

    'The French don't even have a word for entrepreneur!'

    I think he is a nice guy trying to talk up his mate, probably would make a great wingman.

      Abbott is just a sociopath who is willing to say anything that he thinks the average Australian wants to hear.

      He's been told by Turnbull that teh interwebz are important, so now Abbott opens his pie hole and just says the most idiotic things, hoping that if he says enough, eventually he'll say something profound.

      Yeah, except allegedly his idea of hitting on a girl involves punching walls near their head.

    I'm all up for bashing Tony Abbott, but the headline is a complete misquote.

    "virtually invented the internet in this country" =/ "invented the internet in this country"

      they're virtually the same thing. hur hur hur.

    Well if Malcolm didn't then who did?

      That would be Geoff Huston, who essentially invented the Australian internet in the form of AARNet. AARNet was later sold to Telstra and formed the basis of their network. Much like the American internet, AARNet was nominally academic-only but had lots of leaks to commercial networks. (Getting an AARNet connection required that you sign a document saying, essentially, that you had research connections.)

      Before AARNet, there was ACSNet, which interlinked the universities using the proprietary SUN3 protocol (SUN3 = Sydney University Network 3) and later MHSnet (both free for academic use, but MHSnet was sold commercially - mostly to people who wanted an Internet email gateway).

      I remember when Ozemail started up, Message Handling Systems provided their Usenet feed via a dialup modem. Later they reformed as a different company and (as I heard it) ripped off MHS for a fairly large sum ($20k or so) in the process.

        In amongst the partisan discussion, a genuinely informative, relevant and interesting aside. Thank you for that.

        Wish I could up-vote you more.

          There's an online book about the formation of AARNet (though that wasn't my source for my earlier post). It puts Turnbull's "contribution" in context:

          " ...In achieving its own direct outcomes, AARNet had also
          become the genesis of the wider Australian internet.
          " Another early customer was a company called OzEmail, which
          was founded by computer enthusiast, Sean Howard, in the eighties as
          an electronic mail service called Microtex. Howard sold his computer
          publishing business to Kerry Packer’s Australian Consolidated
          Press and transformed Microtex into OzEmail. With the backing
          of investment banker Malcolm Turnbull and ACP executive, Trevor
          Kennedy, the company was relaunched as an internet service provider.
          Their ranks were also joined by another start up ISP, Michael Malone’s
          Perth based iiNet."


          So Turnbull financed the upgrade of Ozemail. That seems to have been his only role.

        Factcheck: AARNet was not and has been sold to Telstra. It is still a not for profit company funded by Universities and Research bodies.

    "Virtually invented" =/ "what actually happened in the reality where we live"
    Which is the main point.


    Last edited 18/06/15 10:38 am

      When Turnbull was with Ozemail it was all dialup. If it was good enough then, it must be good enough now, right?

      I so want the NBN now haha........wish they changed their mind on FTTH

      Yeah, because we all need gigabit lines to pirate the newest GoT.

    Very poor sensationalist reporting, I expected much better from a Tech site

    He was also a Director of Webcentral during a huge growth phase which was the largest in Aus by a sizable factor back in the day.

    But still not an inventor :)

      He is the most gizmodo pollie ever thou?

    never mind. fact checking fail

    Last edited 28/06/13 6:06 pm

      Malcolm Turnbull set up a UUCP connection to Berkeley Uni in 1983.

      Do you have a reference for that one?

        Exactly. Yes there was a link set up between Darwin and Berkeley then but I can't find any reference to Turnbull having anything to do with it. In fact at the time he was working as General Council and Secretary for the ACP Holding Group.

      This; if you're going to make a political piece, you'd better be damned sure you're factually accurate.

        If you're damned sure about factual accuracy, perhaps you maybe have a citation?

      I hadn't heard anything about Turnbull being involved in the Darwin-Berkeley link. Do you have a citation?

      His Wikipedia entry says that in 1983 he left the bar and became General Counsel and Secretary for Australian Consolidated Press. Doesn't sound related to me. Perhaps he was connecting Australia to the ARPAnet as a hobby?

        Turns out, it was Bob Kummerfeld and Piers Lauder at the University of Sydney, and later Geoff Huston at ANU.

        Ozemail was the first ISP I ever used, telstra did net but it was all for freaks and corporates at that time and the pricing was insane. Turnbull has some credit for us being one of the early adopters of the internet, making it a mass market thing that did not cost $199pm

      I've read through Annabel Crabb's piece in the March 2009 Quarterly Essay called Stop at nothing : the life and adventures of Malcolm Turnbull, which singularly fails to mention this in retrospect quite notable achievement.

      It does mention that from 1982-1984, during which period Turnbull's father was tragically killed in a light-plane accident, he was apparently heavily involved in the Costigan Royal Commission as part of his role at ACP.

      I'm impressed that in between dealing with a tragic personal loss, and also being involved in the apparently quite scandalous and certainly damaging revelations taking place during a Royal Commission into graft and corruption involving the press, the painters and dockers union, a number of politicians, several very prominent and wealthy businessmen in general and his own boss Kerry "the Goanna" Packer in particular, that he found time to invent the Internet in Australia in such an uncharacteristically modest manner that as Shadow Communications Minister the only people that talk about it now are commentators on a tech blog.

    Tubes built by Turnbull? 0.

    Almost as bad as Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens referring to the Internet as "a series of tubes".

    Can we please have some better party leaders.... Please?

    The Swedish communications minister said in 1995 that internet was just a fad...

    She left politics in -98...

      To be fair, Bill Gates said something similar at the same time.


          My source, "The Internet Tidal Wave" memorandum from 1995 does not corroborate your story.

          Last edited 30/06/13 1:39 pm

    what a load of BS, no more vote from me

      " more vote from me"

      As though he ever had your vote in the first place.

      Seriously, from all these comments about how dumb Abbott is, how many actually watched the video? It was clearly a lighthearted comment meant as a joke. This story is pathetic.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now