Saturday, 5 May 2012

NBN Advertising: Dodgy use of public monies?



It doesn't take a genius to work out that the National Broadband Network will change a few things for the average Australian.

Indeed, if you live in any Australian suburb like Palmerston via Gungahlin and you have recently received a little "mail out" from NBN Co in your letterbox, any improvement in service delivery will be a welcome change from the archaic services currently experienced at "top of the range" prices.

I am now paying $AUD 99.95 per month for a Telstra wireless service with a theoretical speed of 8mbps, but when you see the reality of my speed test (presented here courtesy of ozspeedtest.com at the time of writing) it is very different:


Before the peanut gallery chimes in with "oh, you should get a plan with... [blah, blah, blah], let me tell you something: it is simply not available here in Palmerston via Gungahlin, especially ADSL. You might also see from my speed test that tonight is a good night, but it doesn't matter because the download limit on Telstra's wireless service here is 15GB per month. Even if I offered Telstra $1 million per month, as a consumer, I am on the absolute best of the premium plans available in this area.

What rattles me about the NBN is that a while back, I attended a community meeting run by NBN Co where they kept asking us "what will you do with high-speed broadband?" I wasn't interested in discussing this with them. Frankly, it is none of their business. But what made matters worse was that some random NBN Co employee emerged from the audience and admitted that he had been sitting among us to hear what we had been saying. This made me feel pretty much that this was all a government-controlled freak show. At this point, it still didn't bother me so much so I said nothing more of it. Until now, that is!

So when I received an NBN Co "mail out" this week inviting me:
To find out what the NBN rollout means to Gungahlin and the exciting benefits fibre optic broadband could bring to you and your community, come to our information session on Saturday 12 May any time between 11am and 3pm...
I decided immediately that I was not interested in attending. All I want to know is: When will I get access to NBN? In October 2010, at the last community meeting on NBN at the Palmerston Community Centre, we were invited to "dream" about the NBN and how we might use it. But the biggest question on everybody's lips was simply: "When do we get it?"

Yet here we are, 18 months later and well past the September 2011 date "mentioned" at the last community meeting in October 2010 for the rollout to begin, and nothing has changed.

What is quite clear is that the consultation process is all just "spin". I expect politicians to bore me with their spin. But what really gets up my nose is when public monies are used to pay for that spin.

Not a day goes by when I don't see NBN advertisements appearing on television or in my letterbox. Yet I don't believe a single word: it is all just spin.

Spin from politicians is a political reality: it is a farce packaged as "democracy" and I have little choice but to live with it. But when I have to pay for the spin, this is when I really feel insulted.

Surely every advertisement about the NBN is election campaigning which citizens pay for? How this is legal defies logic. If they were telling me WHEN I might be able to access NBN, I might be a little less bothered. But in the meantime, spending public money to ask me to "come dream about NBN" while effectively delaying the rollout date is a complete "rock show".

As much as the Opposition is to blame for getting us here in the [broadband] first place, the fact that they haven't whispered a word about public-funded electioneering demonstrates that they really did set such a low standard during the Howard Government's "Workchoices" campaign that they have nowhere else to go on this obvious misuse of public monies.

As for NBN, the current situation where taxpayers are paying to have their intelligence insulted is nothing short of ridiculous. The publicly-funded advertisements about NBN should be withdrawn immediately.



Creative Commons License Except where indicated otherwise, Le Flâneur Politique by Michael de Percy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License. Based on a work at politicalscience.com.au. Background image ©Depositphotos.com/ @redshinestudio