In the years immediately after the 1998 Federal Election, at which John Howard’s Coalition successfully won a mandate for introducing the GST, Federal Labor got stuck in a real policy communication rut. Sure, there was quite a bit of popular opposition to the new tax, and there were some very good reasons for Labor to continue to fight against it. Unfortunately for Labor supporters and indeed Kim Beazley’s political aspirations, as the years ticked by and Australia headed towards the 2001 election, the catch-cry of “rollback” started sounding regressive, tired, and somewhat unappealing to the average punter. One started to get the sense that the core premise of Labor’s economic platform was to take the country back in time three years, chronologically if not literally. Not really a good look, unless you’re Marty McFly.
And so it seems to be with Tony Abbott and the NBN. His mumblings are starting to sound like his policy on our telecommunications future is “rollback”; to regress, to move backwards. His latest hysterical suggestion to drop the NBN like a hot potato because of the floods seems patronising and misguided; a cry and a gasp for a headline. What right-minded government, having secured a mandate for an infrastructure project at two separate federal elections, and having already signed numerous contracts binding the nation to agreements to the tune of billions of dollars, would dump the project at the first sign of unexpected external financial issues, or at the suggestion of their political opponents?
One wonders what Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull really thinks about the National Broadband Network, and his leader’s cock-eyed approach to opposing it. What one doesn’t wonder is what Julia Gillard thinks about the Coalition’s “duh….rollBACK!?!!” broadband policy for the years heading toward 2013. Two thumbs up?
Crossposted at Larvatus Prodeo.