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Brilliant column from the AFR's Joe Aston demolishes Rudd's BS NBN fantasy

Brilliantly researched, factual and non-partisan destruction of Rudd's reinventions of a very sad history.

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No matter how many times they’re exposed as untruthful, Kevin Rudd’s NBN talking points are reproduced with alacrity.

Rudd’s latest host is Junkee, which last week published Rudd’s thoughts entitled “This would be a lot easier if the Liberals hadn’t buggered up the NBN”.

Our 26th Prime Minister claimed that “after the Kevin07 campaign, my government set about connecting the whole country to a National Broadband Network – more than 90 per cent through super-fast fibre-optic cable to the home and business”. And for the avoidance of all doubt: “Bottom line is that after 2007 we acted on our promise to build a fully fibre NBN for the whole nation.”

As Rudd knows very well, there was no such promise. In March 2007, Rudd Labor committed to “the rollout of a new ‘Fibre to the Node’ (FTTN) network”, not to homes and businesses. That FTTN network would “increase speed to a minimum of 12 megabits per second”. To that end, Labor pledged to “make a public equity investment of up to $4.7 billion” and “deliver [it] over five years”.

Only in 2009 did Rudd promise fibre to the premises (FTTP) at a cost of $43 billion. “We connected some 200,000 properties,” Rudd now recalls, “before Tony Abbott came to power in 2013 and everything went to shit”. Actually, it was 98,232 properties they connected, only 51,000 of them FTTP. Rudd promised 90 per cent of us would be connected by 2012, less than 1 per cent of us were connected by 2013 (at ten times the original public cost) on a deployment schedule running out to 2021, but Abbott’s election marks when the wheels fell off?

Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull “then set about sabotaging” the NBN, Rudd says, by announcing “they would only connect remaining homes and businesses to the NBN using old, slow copper phone lines (25 megabits per second, instead of 100Mpbs under our government)”.

Which is patently false. Remaining premises have been and are being connected, variously, via fibre, copper, ethernet, Foxtel’s and Optus’ hybrid fibre coaxial, fixed wireless and satellite. Only 10 per cent of the NBN’s fixed line services do not receive a speed of at least 50Mpbs.

Rudd even contends that reverting to copper – or should we say not reverting to copper – “has also cost more than our original plan”. At $51 billion (so far), the Coalition’s scaled-back NBN did not cost more than Rudd’s “original plan” ($4.7 billion). It has cost more than Rudd’s 2009 plan because that plan’s costings were a complete fantasy. The Communications Department’s 2014 cost-benefit analysis determined that its actual cost of delivery was between $59 billion and $73 billion – and we bet that was lowball.

Finally, Rudd resorted to his Poesque fixation: the imagined destruction of his government by Rupert Murdoch rather than rank incompetence. Rudd maintains, without basis, the Coalition “hated” the NBN because it “threatened the Foxtel business owned by [Abbott’s] media benefactor”, Murdoch, “because broadband would give a platform to his major competitor Netflix”.

Rudd conceived of the NBN in 2007 (a year after Murdoch paid $US580 million for MySpace, lol). Netflix didn’t enter the Australian market until 2015 (after Rudd had blown up two Labor governments and Abbott had pretty much blown up his). The chronology is way out.

Rudd’s conspiracy theory also jars badly with the inconvenient fact Labor appointed Lachlan Murdoch’s consigliere Siobhan McKenna as NBN chairman in March 2013. Upon Abbott’s election six months later, she offered her resignation, which was accepted!

Not a shred of credible evidence that the Sun King considered the NBN a grave commercial threat has ever been presented. Rudd’s are paranoiac ravings and you don’t have to be a News Corp crony to recognise them as exactly that.