For those of you wondering about the outcome of the Australian election and the fate of my bold proclamation that the national Broadband Network policy would be the decider, the story goes like this.
The final three Independents, Messrs. Katter, Windsor and Oakeshott, announced that they would make their decisions known on earlier this week, more than two weeks after the election. The first decided to go with the opposition Coalition party because he wasn’t happy with the way the Labor Party dumped its former leader who came from the same state as he, Queensland. Now, please keep in mind that this decision was reached after weeks of negotiation, promises, lobbying and matters of grave national importance, yet Mr Katter’s final decision rested on such an implausible reason. Such is the strength of ‘mateship’ down under.
That left both sides tied and the decisions of the two remaining Independents would make or break either side, and seal the fate of the NBN, which had become a key electioneering issue. A split decision would have meant a hung parliament, a new election and the likely loss of any position of power for the Independents previously unimaginable. A joint decision would seal the fate of the new government, however tenuous.
After much histrionics and last minute maneuvering the two came out in favor of the Labor Government, returning them to power and saving the much vaunted NBN. But when it came down to that critical decision it seems the NBN was, in fact, the deciding factor. As Lenore Taylor reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, “For Windsor, Labor’s national broadband network was the policy clincher, for Oakeshott both broadband and Labor’s promises on regional education.”
Notable industry writer, Graham Lynch of Commsday wrote, “That Tony Windsor and his fellow independent Rob Oakeshott should be persuaded to support the Gillard (Labor) government largely on the strength of an utterly uncosted $43 billion experiment—the National Broadband Network—must go down as the most bizarre political decision. On announcing his support for a Gillard government, Tony Windsor said ‘you do it once you do it right and you do it fibre’.”
Whichever way you look at, a national government was finally determined by telecommunications policy. This may be the beginning of a trend for politicians seeking to woo the electorate. For most of us, being connected has become a critical part of our existence. No wonder then that it has become so emotive, especially if any government tries to make it less readily available.
The offshoot of all this is that there could also be some great new job openings for good telco people – as advisors to hopeful political parties!