You’d think a National Party senator would be aware of how bad internet access is in regional areas in Australia. My parents live only 30 minutes away from an ADSL-enabled area, but have no access to it themselves. The phone lines are terrible for dialup net access, and cause regular drop-offs, which forced them onto satellite broadband, which is about as close to being broadband as a dirt track is to being a freeway. And they really do need good internet access, in order to work. This situation is repeated all over the country.
But no, Senator Ron Boswell, from Queensland, has said “We’ve got adequate broadband out there”, in response to the Labor party plan to build a country-wide high-speed network, using money from the so-called Future Fund.
The Liberals and some Nationals, of course, believe that government should have nothing to do with infrastructure and that the free market will provide what’s required. Of course, if this were the case, then we’d already have high-speed internet access to the home across the country – but we don’t, and we’re lagging well behind. When I left Amsterdam two years ago, the company I was working for was already rolling out IPTV across the Netherlands.
In reality, high-speed internet – and particularly IPTV – threatens the Coalition’s best friend – the Australian commercial TV industry, which is one of the most profitable TV industries in the world, due to the government’s considerable protection through licence rationing. Our capital cities, especially Melbourne and Sydney, are easily big enough to support a fourth and fifth commercial station, yet the government – despite its free market rhetoric – artificially keeps the number of licences at three.
I suggest anyone in the country whose modem has just dropped off the line yet again give Ron a call and congratulate him on the wonderful network that his government has provided.
Update: Apparently Senator Boswell was misquoted. Thanks to Paul Leven from the Senator’s office for this information.