NBN: TV host blasts Prime Minister’s innovation claim

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When he was Prime Minister, Tony Abbott may have crowned then Communication Minister, Malcolm Turnbull “the man who virtually invented the internet”, but outspoken television host Waleed Aly has taken aim at Mr Turnbull’s “age of innovation” claim amid reports that the NBN rollout is floundering.

Papers leaked last week reveal that the Government’s rollout of the NBN is indeed in trouble, despite assurances by Communications Minister Mitch Fifield last month that such reports were unfounded. Issues over the fibre to node part of the Coalition’s alternative plan to that implemented by the then Labor government have caused the program to be delayed by as much as 87 days in certain areas. 

On last night’s Channel Ten current affairs program, The Project, Logie-nominated host Waleed Aly, in his regular segment, ‘Something We Should Talk About’, said the delays were not trivial and were indeed a concern, “This is worrying because while we were never told we would have the fastest internet under the Coalition, we were promised it would be delivered much earlier than under Labor.” Interviewed for the segment was former director of the University of Queensland’s computer centre, Alan Coulter, who said, “If we’re going to be the innovation nation, we shouldn’t go for the cheap and error-prone solution.” 

Labor’s original plan was to deliver a fibre to the premises NBN by 2021, at a cost of $45 billion. The Coalition, when in opposition, modelled that it would actually cost $85 billion and put forward its own plan when it won the 2013 Federal Election. The slower fibre to node NBN delivery opted for by the Government was to be quicker and cheaper to rollout and  scheduled for completion in 2019. However, the costs have already blown out to $56 billion and it is currently scheduled to be finished by 2020, although further delays may affect this date.

Noting the increase in data usage by Australians, Waleed Aly went on to say, “The problem here is, despite the latest figures showing the amount of data downloaded by Australians increased by 40 per cent from June 2014 to June 2015, the Abbott-slash-Turnbull government has never demonstrated that they value the need for high-speed internet.” 

Stating that the Snowy Mountains scheme and the Sydney Harbour Bridge were built with the future in mind, Aly continued to lambast Mr Turbull’s “age of innovation” claim. “But now, as we enter Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘age of innovation’ and we’re told the NBN is the most important infrastructure project of the 21st century, we’re expected to rely on a decaying copper network that experts say is already past its use-by date, instead of investing in fibre which the same experts say could service our internet needs for the next 100 years.”

And his final dig? “So if you’re watching this right now on the internet, and you had to wait for even a second for this video to buffer, you know who to blame,” he said. “Tony Abbott… and the guy who he says invented the internet.”

Watch last night’s episode at Tenplay.com.au

Read more at SMH.com.au 

Opinion: Are we lagging behind?

Slow internet – sure it’s annoying but is it really worth getting hot under the collar about? Should it be an issue that shapes the election debate? You bet it is.

The NBN rollout has been going on for so long that many people simply accept that they will get it at some point in time and that it may make their internet quicker – it may not. But in today’s digital world, that simply isn’t good enough.

A fast and stable internet infrastructure will be the cornerstone of delivering health and aged care support over the coming decades and may indeed, be the only way in which we can support an ageing population. Delivering health services such as virtual consultations with GPs for those in remote areas or who can’t visit the surgery, managing vital statistics such as blood pressure and insulin levels in patients and monitoring the frail and less mobile for falls can all be done remotely, efficiently and more cheaply if we have the right infrastructure in place.

To be able to entice new business to come to Australia is also reliant on an internet service much improved from the one we have now. With the demise of the resources and manufacturing industries, we must also look to secure the future commitment and investment from multinationals already operating in Australia, a country where costs are high compared to our Asian counterparts. And it is these emerging Asian nations that will have the faster and more reliable internet systems. On a recent visit to Vietnam, I was blown away by how quick and readily available free wifi was – something I don’t think Vietnamese visitors would ever say about Australia.

In fact, Australia is actually going backwards when it comes to the speed of our internet. According to rankings released by content delivery network provider Akamai, Australia has dropped from 30th to 60th in the last three years. Singapore, a country with which Australia will compete for investment over the coming years, has internet 100 times faster than we do. 

It’s not really about being able to download movies and watch television over the internet, although that is fast becoming the norm. Delivering the NBN has become, in the eyes of the Government, something it must do to save face, but it does it without any real conviction. If Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull does indeed believe in innovation, he needs to raise the profile and priority of delivering a fast and efficient NBN and do it quickly.

Do you have access to the NBN? Do you think a fast and stable internet connection is vital for future innovation in health care, aged care and business? Or is all the fuss about the NBN unjustified? Do you think we should revert to the original fibre to premises rather than the node NBN?

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Written by Debbie McTaggart

111 Comments

Total Comments: 111
  1. 0
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    No the NBN was due in my area in 2014 under the Labor plan (Bennelong Electorate). Under this confused and ever changing Government we do not have a date. So much for on time and under budget. The NBN will be late, slower, and cost more. We cant trust this mob for anything, they say one thing to get elected then try and change their prommises after the election. What an exciting time to be waiting for a fast innovative second class roll out of the NBN.

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    Comment removed (racism)

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      Goodness, what a couple of nasty comments. Sounds to me like you have a vile agenda of your own Julian. Mr Aly is an incredibly intelligent, articulate and thoughtful man. Clearly those attributes are not appreciated by everyone, although he is appreciated by many thousands for his wit, his thoughtfulness and his courage. I see every day people on this website saying really nasty and often unfounded things about the politicians yet when a media commentator makes a well thought-out critic of the PM suddenly he is a ‘wannabee’ PM? Oh, please.

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      Waleed Aly tells it like it is and, if you happen to be an LNP supporter, that can really hurt. Waleed is as Australian as they come. Just because he is not white and Christian does not make him any less Australian or entitled to point out what is wrong with this government. Turnbull is the biggest hypocrite you could imagine. The very man who sabotaged the NBN is now spruiking himself as the champion of innovation. The only right NBN for Australia was a fibre NBN, not this FTTN rubbish. By the way, I hope Waleed gets his Logie. He certainly would be a worthy winner.

    • 0
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      I thought the subject matter here was the roll out of the NBN.
      Why are you shooting the messenger?

    • 0
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      Polly Esther they’re shooting the messenger because he has a political agenda and consequently a biased perspective. His anti LNP tirades are well publicised and The Project needs a new anchor.

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      Far too often commentary is focussed on undermining the source of an issue rather than addressing the issue itself – the reality is, regardless of the commentator, that the NBN in its currently planned form [FTTN] will not deliver the broadband performance Australia needs and will need to be upgraded to FTTP [as initially intended]. The departure from the FTTP path was ill-advised, and will cost more in the long term, both in terms of maintenance of the node hardware and batteries and when upgrade to FTTP is implemented [which must inevitably occur]. Regardless of personal opinions of Mr Aly, the point he made is quite valid and worthy of rational discussion. Australia’s broadband infrastructure is inadequate and access is too expensive even when compared to some developing nations.

    • 0
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      Rational, your name is well chosen!

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      Waleed is one of our most articulate, educated and intelligent commentators. Slagging him off because your values are to the right of Ghengis Khan only reflects on those capabilities in you. What precisely has a person’s religion to do with their ability to be a highly qualified social commentator who has the capacity to penetrate political lies?
      That would make an atheist God-like.

    • 0
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      Bigotry! Bigotry! Bigotry! Julian & Maggie…. let’s call it what it is shall we.

      THE FACTS – Labor’s NBN:
      – costed & audited (back then) at $37billion
      – due to the speeds attainable would have paid itself back in full by 2034;
      – would be good for 50+ years;
      – could be UPGRADED;
      – could handle higher and higher speeds – as future speeds got higher;
      – went to ALL Australian premises, AT NO COST, so that no-one was excluded;
      – would have put Australia 20 years ahead of the world in innovation and technology; and
      – it gave Australia a FUTURE instead of relying on sheep and mining.

      THE FACTS – Liberal’s NBN:
      – never costed or audited and it has been reported as nearing up to $70billion and that does NOT include the cost of power (equal to two power stations) needed for the millions of ugly nodes NOR the cost of Telstra to maintain the copper…. NOR does it include the capital cost of Turnbull buying segments of the copper network at TOP $$$, then finding that it was in such bad shape that it needed to be upgraded…. copper is more expensive than the top level fibre (Labor was using) and then Turnbull was reported as saying that he would be virtually GIVING this network back to Telstra & Optus.
      – will NEVER pay itself back because the speeds are that slow, the USA doesn’t even regard it as a NBN, and such slow speeds will not generate an income;
      – is OUT of DATE right now (other countries are pulling this ancient technology out);
      – CAN’T be UPGRADED;
      – CAN’T handle high speeds (some cases speeds are way less than ADSL2) and can’t go higher;
      – doesn’t go to ALL Australian premises… in fact if you are more than 300m from a node, you have to go back to ‘dial up’ or get ‘satellite’ – both are unsatisfactory;
      – if you want a slightly better speed, you can pay up to $20,000 to put in fibre from the node to your premises;
      – it will put Australia 20years BEHIND the rest of the world… even developing countries… leaving Australia to depend on sheep and mining… with little hope of retaining our LIFESTYLE and prosperity.

      ADDITIONALLY, Labor’s NBN installation was running basically on time with a few hitches….. considering the world considered the Labor NBN proposal as a ‘world wonder’, this was to be expected.

      In comparison, Liberal’s NBN installation is in SHAMBLES and have started to instal not only their fibre to node but multi-mixes…. employees of NBN Co who are involved in this installation call it a “clusterf***”.

      Please, by all means…. if you thing the above is wrong… let me know and we can discuss it.

      We can even leave politics out of it and just discuss this gross *^%$#@! UP of Australia and its future.

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      Oh! one other thing ….. Turnbull is now issuing murmurings that resemble the start of a political PROMISE (for what it is worth… promises seem to have no meaning to this party) THAT he will now lay fibre to the property line.

      TWO things about this…..
      1). The fibre is CHEAP flimsy and nasty and will not do as good a job and will only improve the speeds but will not be able to last more than five (5) years and then will be out of date!
      2). Question: Who pays for the connection from the property line to the premises, especially if you don’t want to rely on the old copper that is obviously a problem.

    • 0
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      Unlike Tony Abbott, Waleed Aly was born here.

    • 0
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      I think people like Julian should read all about Waleed Aly here

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Aly

      Before Downing this Australian.

      What have you done compared to him.

    • 0
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      Golfer, does that mean that the right wing pay for comment Andrew Bolt should also be sacked and show be given to a balanced commentator?
      Does it also mean that you think that the NBN rollout is in fact faster speed, faster to be implemented and cheaper than fibre?
      Just because you don’t like the message does not mean you sack the messenger, if you don’t agree with what he is saying put a point across th proves him wrong, it”s called debating an issue.
      Should most of the editors of Australias leading papers be sacked for their shameless attacks on the Labor party during the last election? Or is it only the people who expose your beloved LNP for the snake oil salesmen they are that should be wary?

  3. 0
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    I’ve had the NBN for about 18 months now. I’m supposed to be on the superfast 100Mbs download plan from Telstra yet it is woefully inadequate at times, especially in the evening. Yes I have Netflix and it often “buffers” which is something I thought wouldn’t happen on the NBN. This country will be the laughing stock of the modern world if it isn’t already. If either party cannot see that faster internet speeds are not only essential now, but will become more so as time progresses then they are fools, seemingly resistant to change and history will judge them on this.

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      Who do you think destroyed the NBN? Turnbull turned it into a hybrid and everybody knows that with anything in life things are only as good as the weakest link, in this case the copper section and the antiquated exchanges.

    • 0
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      The LNP were never going to support a high speed broadband network that would intrude on the vested interests of some of its supporters. The original concept was scuttled in favour of the now inferior model that will take as long a time to roll out as they can make it.
      Foxtel and its owners Newscorp and Telstra must be very pleased. remind me again who is the CEO of Newscorp? Some American guy I think.
      The far right conservatives of the LNP hold the reins and Turnbull will do their bidding.Their interests are not those of Australia.

    • 0
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      The NBN like to many other infrastructures in this country has gone to the dogs, crappy roads, rail services, etc, etc

  4. 0
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    Of course the budget has blown out. When doesn’t it blow out!? Governments, consistently underprice major projects to make the numbers look good and the proletariat happy. The reality is that subsequent governments have to somehow go into damage control once the lies are revealed. Then try to complete the project with money they don’t have. This is consistent with Gillard’s socialistic spending of money we don’t have and over promising something that can’t be delivered on time. Then we have an outcry over cost blowouts and delivery performance.

    Wake up readers. Who made these promises? Who is trying to clean up the mess? What once was considered a conservative party. I’m not defending Turnbull but its fact.

    • 0
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      I trust you do know the difference between spending and investment?

    • 0
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      What Ton-abull is delivering is nothing like what Kevin/Julia/Kevin promised, it is a mixture of bad outdated technologies. I think a lot of people need to think about the difference between cheap and cost effective solutions, there is a big difference.
      In a twist of fate Ton-a-bull is now having to defend a bad solution that he sold us as Communications Minister. He sold us a lemon and now he can’t blame anyone else, he has to fix it or wear the consequenses. Remember he is supposed to be an expert on communications.

    • 0
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      My memory is of rising NBN cost estimations under Labor. The system proposed was good cost is always an issue to be reviewed. Mr. Turnbull’s approach was put as an alternative to this.

      While the previous approach was I (without expertise) judge a better long term approach, the rising debt and the rising NBN cost makes the decision to change course understandable. Now that it is made, there is no way the end cost of the previous approach can be estimated. The present approach will probably also blow out but there can be no point in comparison without a valid cost comparison which is not possible.

      It is then very easy to criticise but we do have a country staggering through gross and poorly handled spending over a number of years, unrealistic public expectation while facing also a particularly uncertain future.

      In uncertain times risk still needs be taken but some responsibilities are more important that others and we have elected government to assess the balance between them.

    • 0
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      Well said JAID, and I agree with most of your assurtion, but in this case I can’t help but think that this decision was made for political reasons rather than for the benefit of Australians.
      There was far too much professional advise that indicated that the cheap solution would not be effective.
      I would also say that you don’t try to fix one case of economic missmanagement by creating another one.

  5. 0
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    Comment removed (racism)

    • 0
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      Why Watto?, because Wally has a different opinion to yours?, that is the problem with the world today people are not prepared to acknowledge that someone else may have a different, and dare I say it, a better opinion the theirs. What happened to that old saying “Live and let live”?, the world would be a better place if we could all just agree to disagree sometimes without all this nastiness.

    • 0
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      “Go back to where he came from.” Which suburb in Australia is that then?

    • 0
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      Watto: Waleed Aly and his wife were both born in Australia (Melbourne in fact) he in 1978, she in 1980.
      Waleed’s parents were from Egypt. I’d say he is just as much Australian as anyone. I’ve never watched him on TV but I’ve read quite a lot of his newspaper articles which more often than not are intelligent communications and food for thought.
      Basically Australians are fair in their assessments of most things but at present there seems to be a trend in a small minority who think they are extremely precious and what they think is definitely right and not to be contested.

    • 0
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      Mitzy — you make some excellent points.

    • 0
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      MITZY – Watto will now post “Sorry, I was wrong”.

  6. 0
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    There is not now nor has there ever been a genuine “age of innovation”. It’s just a weak and meaningless phrase coined by a government with no clues as to how to create a future for this country.
    To be fair, the NBN was conceived by another government and MT has been stuck with trying to carry on with the job while battling his own party’s conservative (read: hopeless) attitude towards technology. But nevertheless, the NBN is falling further behind in both quality and progress towards completion and Malcolm has to carry the can for it.
    And yes, Waleed Aly is correct when he says we were promised a faster rollout and lower costs by the Libs when they were in opposition, whereas we’ve achieved neither to date. In fact, ‘later’ and ‘more expensive’ are appropriate descriptors. But we knew that already.
    After seeing what’s now being called “the Netflix effect” I’m concerned that the NBN might be outdated even before it’s accessible to most Australians. A bad idea certainly won’t get any better if it’s administered by the Coalition’s talentless management.

  7. 0
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    You can have the fastest internet in the world but will still suffer delays etc as long as the server you are connected to has lack of capacity, this especially applies to major government websites like Centrelink, Telstra, QANTAS etc. These companies need to invest more in their interlink network interfaces and infrastructure.

    • 0
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      Fair go! The elves are pedalling as fast as they can. They are big complex engines the poor little elves have to crank up and keep turning – all by hand and leg power. No help from Turnbull’s government. He keeps talking the hands and legs away from them.

  8. 0
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    It is unfair to bag the NBN when it has been butchered by Turnbull and his cronies. Labor designed the system to completely do away with copper but now we have have a hybrid. So why do people think there are problems? There will be….and the final cost will be much more. This is what we all get for listening to a propaganda campaign run by the big end of town and their commercial media outlets.
    I did not listen to the interview mentioned but given the gross and ongoing dishonesty from the current government expect little more than BS, lies and the next propaganda campaign to get people to vote for them. I am certainly on to it and only a few days ago I listened to Leigh Sales on the 7:30 Report interviewing the next liar Morrison. Whilst this apparent clone of a used car salesman questioned where Labor would get the funding for schools the question was never asked about where his government was going to get the funding for the Paid Parental Leave Program, a policy which this bunch never intended to implement but which sucked in gen Ys hoping to get a handout. My disappointment is that Sales did not challenge Morrison on this government’s own record. But then maybe the departure (removal?) of Mark Scott as CEO of the ABC is a sign of what is to become of the only real broadcaster of balanced political reporting in the country.

    • 0
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      Didn’t Turnbull’s mob actually pay Telstra for its dead Copper network? Something like $12B?

    • 0
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      It did. And this government NEVER releases the cost figures and comparisons. Just keeps up tagging Labor with the next layer of blame whilst refusing to own up to the reality that the current PM has stuffed the whole project and then blamed Labor for the mess and cost. That is what Liberal governments do.

    • 0
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      That’s what sociopaths do.

      They should man up, own the problem and then fix them – even if they have do a mea culpa and ask for some more time. But if you are a Canberra pollie you sit at the right hand of God and she won’t let you be fallible.

    • 0
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      Hold on. Man up, what politician has ever said they have done the wrong thing

  9. 0
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    Of course we should jump up and down about the NBN mess! All this talk about innovation and agility is a crock if we can’t get this right. Bring on the lection so I can help vote this mob out!

    • 0
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      Here, here.

    • 0
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      NBN and MTM,
      One stands for National Broadband Network the other stands for Malcolm Turnbulls Mess.
      Second rate, second past the post, second try, second to everyone else.

    • 0
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      Yes, Rosscoe. We should turn out the LNP government and go back to the Halcyon days of ALP over promising, underperforming misguided feel good for the moment and just plain bungling of the Labor years of 2007-2013. Do we need to return to the illegal boat arrivals brought on by Rudd’s open door policy to illegal migration? We are still paying for that in dole payments and medical care for them while pushing needy Australians further back in the public housing queue. Do we need an rerun of the Pink batts scheme as another taxpayer funded Santa Claus gesture? What about Julia’s great educational scheme for the schools? The Labor Mates in the building game made squillions building giant carports and other school buildings, (whether needed or not in government schools) while the performance of Aussie school children continued to decline when compared to Asian school kids’ results? A great educational reform, that one! Never mind the fact that between 2007 and 2013 Australia went from having a surplus left by the Howard government to hundreds of billions of dollars indebtedness to China to fund Rudd and Gillard’s feel good wet dreams of self glorification.

      So maybe the flat screen tv Rudd financed for Rosscoe needs replacing and Rosscoe thinks Bill Shorten will pay for a new one. After all the NBN was another ill funded Rudd cockup from the word go.

    • 0
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      Rosscoe, overpromising, underdelivering, I actually thought you nwere talking about the LNP with those statements.
      LNP promises broken, NBN faster, cheaper, rolled out more efficiently, Payed Parental Leave, better more coehesive government, will not swap leaders, return to budget surpluss and most of their campaign promises.
      You want to talk about feel good wet dreams, how about a leader of the opposition who goes begging to an Independant saying “I would do anything except sell my bum to be PM”? I think that pretty much says it all.

    • 0
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      Sorry Rosscoe, my last comment was intended for Wally.

  10. 0
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    I had the NBN connected to my home yesterday. It is all fibre, presumably because it is a new area. Not one comment here about how we would fund a better system for all, given the huge debt that the Government currently has.
    Would those who want a better system be prepared to sign up to pay for it.!! I get the impression that there are no taxpayers contributing to discussion on this site.!!

    • 0
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      We would have less debt if we were not now subsidising the coal industry to the tune of $8 billion a year after the repeal of the Carbon Tax. Not much ever said about that cosy little deal between the government and the coal industry.
      And then there is the tax this government refuses to collect from the rich and multinationals.
      You talk about “debt” Fready but the reality is that we have problem because of fraud at the highest levels of our society which fails to administer or amend the laws in place if they do not put truckloads of money into the bank accounts of the rich. And then we have Tax Shelters…..which the current PM also uses. The Four Corners program identified around 800 Australians in just one (Mosseco) such scheme in Peru with many many more in the British Virgin Islands which has some 500,000 shelf companies also avoiding tax and hiding money.
      We certainly have an issue: average Australians are being over-taxed because of (accommodated) fraud at the highest levels of society and nobody is doing anything about it other than the normal dishonest rhetoric designed to make it all go away…with nil action.

    • 0
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      Glad to hear there are some people getting a real NBN (ie copper free). I am on this site right now – waiting for my business emails to leave my outbox.

      Talk about a waste of time and not to mention inefficiency! No wonder business is stalling in our country (in this great age of “innovation and excitement”!)

      We need a new govt who can get things done for a sustainable future. I hope Labor is up for it, ‘cos the LNP has proven to be bloody hopeless, even in areas you might expect the LNP to be proficient in. It just goes to show, running a successful business is nothing like running a govt/country. Why? Because a corporation is beholden to no one but its shareholders and a govt is the servant of the people who elected them. Unfortunately, Abbott got elected because electors were convinced Labor were no good so Abbott “Stephen Bradbury-ed” into office, not because he was any good but because Labor imploded before the finish line.

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