Malcolm Turnbull's Facebook Q&A: What He Said About The NBN

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull took part in a 15-minute Q&A on Facebook this morning, hosted at Facebook's Californian HQ. Predictably, the National Broadband Network (NBN) was one of the main issues raised in the 300-odd questions posted by users. Here's what he said on technology and related topics.

Note: for the sake of readability, we've shortened some of the questions to their essential elements and fixed obvious typos in the reply.

Q: 25 years ago we didn't have EFTPS. How can we possibly know what tech we'll be using in the next 25? Why not future proof for a few billion more and run fibre everywhere

Turnbull: You can't future proof anything in truth, so the idea that you would invest in a technology which will last for thirty years is pretty naive. Better to invest in the tech that works now and in the foreseeable future which means you can invest in better and better tech as time goes on. This is better financially, time value of money etc, and also gives the optionality you need in such a disruptive tech environment.

Q: An assumption made in your costings for the NBN prior to the election was that Telstra would allow use of its copper network without charge. Now it has been reported that the government/NBNCo will now enter negotiations for use of the network. Will this be another riveting surprise from the self-proclaimed 'no surprises' government?

Turnbull: No, those assumptions are well explained. Remember Telstra is being paid a substantial sum to decommission its copper assets already

Q: Considering the fact that the majority of the NBN board is filled with former Telstra employees, do you think it wise that this organisation is negotiating with Telstra for the sale of the copper wiring?

Turnbull:: Well the majority are not former Telstra employees as it happens and in any event are you seriously suggesting that if you work for a company you can never for the rest of your life negotiate on the other side of the table from company. #newsflash Slavery has been abolished.

Q: As a successful businessman, it seems you should be playing for legacy. Wouldn't it great to be known as the person that helped Australia not just compete, but win in the next decade with businesses and startups powered by the best internet infrastructure money can buy?

Remember that availability and affordability are of enormous importance. Just remember that the NBN strategic review found that without any change to the existing strategy as it was under Labor the project would cost $73 bn (p, 17)and take until 2025 to be completed and increase internet prices by up to 80% (p. 68) . It's on the NBN Co website and worth reading.

Q: NBN concerns me. We NEED a world class system. Are you going to help deliver this?

Turnbull: It will be a world class system and it will be completed

Q: Why are you so near-sighted on the NBN scheme? Do this stem from your generational lack of understanding/inability to use IT to the capacity of everybody else?

Turnbull: Ha! A low blow!

Q: What is the government policy on telecommuting?

Turnbull: We do promote telecommuting actually, and I am confident more can and should be done by government on the telecommuting front. I think many employers lack imagination to realise that they should measure their staff by their output not by how many hours they spend in the office.

Q: The future of the internet is not about movie download speeds, but in machine to machine communication that will require a "smart" network able sometimes to deliver terabytes in nanoseconds, and where symmetry is vital. In that context, why are we even considering basing national broadband infrastructure on platforms that we know cannot do these things?

Turnbull: Those assumptions are not right.

Q: Did you decide to wear a blue jumper in order to match the Facebook blue? It's a pretty close match.

Turnbull:: Hmm, that gives me too much credit for colour coordination. It's cool here being winter and I like the sweater but I am glad it matched.

WATCH MORE: Tech News
Also on Lifehacker

Comments


    Q: The future of the internet is not about movie download speeds, but in machine to machine communication that will require a “smart” network able sometimes to deliver terabytes in nanoseconds, and where symmetry is vital. In that context, why are we even considering basing national broadband infrastructure on platforms that we know cannot do these things?

    Turnbull: Those assumptions are not right.

    *Does a one man tactical face palm.*

    It's called Autonomic Computing, Turnbull. And it's been researched since the 70s. And often by Big Blue, aka IBM.

    Heck, when Sun Microsystems was still a force to tremble before an employee there once made the claim "The network is the computer." And this was in the 90s.

    I knew the NBN would be lost when the Coalition came in (purely because it was a Labor idea) but this is not helping doing a Tony Abbott by having Turnbull's mouth disconnected from his brain.

    Like with Abbott, I am now convinced Turnbull will make more sense if his tongue is surgically removed.

    Last edited 15/01/14 9:35 am

      While I thematically agree with the question, it was unfortunately somewhat over the top which I think made it much easier for Turnbull to discount.
      The same problem was probably asked in numerous less hyperbolic ways, but they would have been harder to dismiss with a hand-wave.

      The problem is that we're never going to foreseeably see terabytes of data transferred in nanoseconds for a long time. It's unlikely that Labours NBN could be upgraded to that level, let alone would our routers and computer hardware be there too soon.

      For a network like that we would need to wait at least another 50 years.

      Last edited 15/01/14 11:42 am

        This is what people don't get. Once the fibre is in, THERE IS ONLY TWO LIMITS. The speed of light, and the equipment at either end. It's a hell of a lot easier to replace them than to replace fibre.

          you make a good point, but if the equipment to plug into it doesn't exist yet, then aren't you just left with an aging over-engineered bit of infrastructure that *may* be useful one day? Isn't it a balance between how long the fibre network would last versus when we'll be able to take advantage of it?

            Properly laid fibre will last several lifetimes. It's unlikely to need replacing (it's much more durable than copper). You aren't left with an aging over-engineered bit of infrastructure - as faster switches emerge, the cabinets at either end can be replaced for a fraction of cost, keeping the network up to date. The thing is, we can take advantage of it right now. 100Mbps down and significantly higher up is going to make a big difference _today_. We can't even calculate how big of a difference it'll make 'tomorrow'.

              Not really true.

              As with any network, there is a signal to noise, or in the case of the advanced modulation we use to increase fiber bandwidth, a particular sensitivity to refractive distortion inherent in the reflected surface transport we use to force the light down the path we want.

              In layman's terms: the spec of the fiber and the way in which it's been laid will determine a maximum signal frequency before the digital signals bleed into one another, same as any other signal. This will get slower the further the signal has to travel, the more places the cable is bent even if there is no pinching-induced signal bleed, etc. Digital transmission doesn't mean identical quality cable.

              Most of the technologies being trialled for high fiber bandwidth today are *incredibly* specific with regards to the fiber they use for transport.

              There's good reason to believe that fiber will be faster than copper, and good reason to believe that today's fiber will be slower than tomorrow's fiber, due to a different level of rigour being applied in quality control. The argument that's being pitched is that we're rolling out fiber at any cost and offering speeds slower than HFC was capable of 5 years ago. And it's an argument that holds under scrutiny.

          Bandwidth of the fiber is more important than the speed of light. The speed of EM waves in copper are almost the same as light in a fiber.

            O.o ... the speed of light (~3x10^8m/s) is a lot faster than the speed of electricity (which is what travels down a copper wire) electromagnetic energy is just a by-product of sending electricity down a wire.

          Light travels approximately 29.9 centimeters in 1 nanosecond.
          100 nanoseconds, 29m range, not all that useful for terabytes of data.
          Also, you're ignoring that nothing else communicates anywhere near that speed (hard drives / SSDs / Bus speeds etc.)

            Lot of guest commenters in this thread, what a surprise. My hyperbole aside, it's still orders of magnitude higher than what we have now, and will last a lot longer than segmented fiber and copper would.

          Well yes, that is precisely the problem. The fibre is great and I do not mean to say anything bad about it. But the end point technology will probably not reach such high levels before this fibre gets too old. Also signal cannot physically reach "The Speed of Light", C*, in a fibre optics cable. So stop being misinformed about physics, mmkay?

          Last edited 16/01/14 6:47 pm

            Writing "c" in your comment adds nothing to the conversation, apart from trying to seem like you know what you're talking about because it's the symbol for speed of light.

              Really I can't be bothered... But if it helps people can read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_fiber#Index_of_refraction

              But in short, light travels around 2/3rd of the speed of light through fibre, therefore meaning it is not possible for a signal to reach from Sydney to New York in less than 80ms... Which is a great example why we will not be transferring such large amounts of data in such a short time over any sort of considerable distance. (There are 1 million nano seconds in a millisecond so feel free to do that math to scale that down and see that nano second speeds are hardly possible in a home network.)

                Linking wikipedia is always a surefire way to show that you're an armchair specialist. If you'd been keeping up to date on technologies like this, you'd see that these theoretical limits are becoming increasingly redundant.
                http://www.engadget.com/2013/03/26/researchers-create-hollow-fiber-optic-cable-almost-reach-the-sp/

                http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2012/09/26/3598036.htm

                Last edited 16/01/14 1:47 pm

                  Ok awesome, but even at the speed of light we still don't get close to being able to practically do what the questioner was talking about, on anything such as a national scale. So quit attacking me. Also by the sounds of it I am sure you already know or are capable of verifying the information on Wikipedia.

                  That hollow fibre stuff is kind of actually a not so bad point against deploying a full scale fibre network now. Not to say that wouldn't be nice.

                Couldn't they just use a shorter wavelength?

                Higher frequency would mean more data in a certain time.

                Sure the ping won't be nanoseconds, but the data could still be fast.

              Um... It's C, not c.

              (Edited)Wow - You down-voted me AND changed your original post.
              I was aiming for facetious, but looks like I hit infuriating my mistake.

              Last edited 16/01/14 9:16 pm

            Thanks for the unnecessary condescension, I'm all too familiar with physics. I of course, was talking about the theoretical limit, but the need to get close to that speed is not necessary. But good on you for putting on a 'look at me I passed Year 12 physics' attitude.

      I disagree with that question, at least the way its posed, terabytes in nanoseconds, maybe one day but that's backbone and a fiber backbone was never in question. A consumer will probably never in a million years need to transfer a terabyte in a nanosecond (im sure i can wait an extra nano second for anything i need to transfer).

      What bugs me is his response to future proofing
      You can’t future proof anything in truth ... Better to invest in the tech that works now and in the foreseeable future

      The problem is the proposed upload speeds do not cover the now and foreseeable future. Perhaps future proof is the wrong word more like future resistant (as in water resistant not as in how the liberals resist the future needs of the country).

      Just because they are not technologically minded enough to understand the implications of a sub par access speed in both up and down. Low upload speeds make cloud computing a real PITA and will stifle the digital economy.

        I'm sure somebody said a similar thing about megabytes in seconds 50 years ago.

        I wouldn't be making claims that things will "never" happen, and that we "have enough".

        We just don't know.

          Yeah but i think its a safe bet that terabytes per nanosecond (1 exabyte per second, which is in the order of 1 trillion times faster than current average speeds) will not come until way after the replacement for fiberoptic is developed, perhaps something like subspace communications or particle entanglement driven networks.

          I also feel pretty safe to say our consumption of data on consumer hardware will not come close to being able to handle that kind of through put in the next hundred years, a terabyte per second i could see some companies pushing that data around spread over lots of servers soon but to be 1 million times faster than that in the life time of the NBN I feel very safe to say not a chance.

      If these assumptions are not correct (mind you, I think they are pretty close), then what assumptions ARE correct? Please Mr Tunrbull, what are the correct assumptions?

      Last edited 15/01/14 4:01 pm

        I doubt he knows what the assumptions are, correct or otherwise.

        Don't most of these politicians have advisors behind them and just give their own understanding of the documents presented to them?

        can you explain how 1 exabyte per second (a trillion times faster than most peoples connections) to the home in the next 100 years is in anyway a reasonable assumption ?

      To deliver terabytes in nanoseconds would require a connection approximately eight trillion times faster than those provided by Labor's NBN.

    Turnbull: You can’t future proof anything in truth, so the idea that you would invest in a technology which will last for thirty years is pretty naive. Better to invest in the tech that works now and in the foreseeable future which means you can invest in better and better tech as time goes on.

    Wow, just wow.

      The forseeable future in IT being about 18 months...

        Sounds like he's planning on spending a few billion every two years, it's the only way to be sure. =P

          Pfft. He (and his party) won't be in power then, so really its 'someone's problem'.
          Typical short-sighted governments.

      Yeah, this is kind of weird. The tech that works now and in the forseeable future is FTTP.

        Yeah... When the copper he so loves was first rolled out all of those years ago... It worked then and into the 'foreseeable' future.

      How old is the copper network again?

      The telegram works well. Let's go back to that.

    Interesting that they haven't yet realised that destroying the NBN will be the issue that loses them the next election!

      No, I don't think it will. There are plenty of people who are dark about the current government's replacing a forward-thinking (but justifiably costly) NBN plan with their whatever-it-is-now NBN mess which will still be somewhat costly but considerably more crap.
      However, it is just one issue among many, and it isn't that easy to whip people into a frenzy about it compared to boats, carbon taxes, national debt, and so forth. The present government has been so backflippy that it's like rolling backwards, but I doubt the NBN would be enough to sway an election.
      Anyway, too many people believe the 'white elephant' message.

        There are plenty of people who are dark about the current government's replacing a forward-thinking (but justifiably costly) NBN plan with their whatever-it-is-now NBN mess which will still be somewhat costly but considerably more crap.

        No, people who voted for the Coalition knew it would cost them the NBN. It was a Labor invention so would have been terminated by that fact alone.

        What the people wanted was a government that can govern. They were tired of Labor with its infighting and letting the Greens call the shots.

        The reason why there are so many back flips is because they just didn't read the budget books properly before going in. Now they have to accept the fact they will get the budget right again but not without 10,000 eggs on their face.

          Wow, you're a real Liberals cheerleader. The reason there are so many backflips is because the present liberal government doesn't want to follow through on the promises it made.
          It made promises knowing the budget situation, and the forecasts made prior to the election were right. Now, in power, it doesn't actually need to keep most of those promises because what are people going to do anyway? Riot?

          Labor infighting was stupid and fruitless, and had a high cost. I wouldn't have been sad to see Kevin Rudd leave politics immediately after he was first removed. He was a poison to the party from then on. Of course, the 'conservative' mouthpieces like Alan Jones didn't make the situation any more functional. The sooner he disappears, the better off the world will be.

          Re: letting greens call the shots. Let's just reflect back to the minority government formation. Indeed, how about what Tony Windsor had to say:
          "If he had been asked to put in place an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax, for that matter, he would have done it," independent Tony Windsor said in a savage attack on the Opposition Leader.
          "The fact that he was not asked was a very, very good judgement, in my view."

          The Liberal party smeared the egg all over their own faces with their election promises. I imagine they just expect (and may well be right) that enough will wash off by the next election that they'll get to have a round two.

            Wow, you're a real Liberals cheerleader. The reason there are so many backflips is because the present liberal government doesn't want to follow through on the promises it made.

            No, Gnoshi, you only want me to appear a Liberal cheerleader. The backflips are there purely because they did not assess the budgets documents properly.

            They will get the budget right. But I and the rest of Australia will not forget how Joe Hockey tripped and face planted on the first hurdle because he didn't spend the time to check the books properly and at least twice.

            Last edited 15/01/14 2:01 pm

              You do a pretty good job of making yourself look like a Liberals cheerleader; you certainly don't need my assistance. You are squeezing how Liberals inherited a budget emergency in every post, and squeezing in some border protection and Labor pandering to the Greens on the side.

              Now that the Liberals conveniently have power and so are not dependent on the promises they make any more to win government, I'm sure their reading of what can be achieved with the budget will be very, very different.

              And I think you're wrong on one thing: I think much of Australia will forget how Joe Hockey tripped and face planted, because the idea of Liberals as the good economic managers is too inculcated in our 'cultural knowledge' for reality to change it.
              I mean, they forgot that Howard put the money from his period of the boom into tax cuts which have proven challenging to remove. Not really a good approach for long-term budget management.

              (Note: not saying that Labor are good economic managers either)
              (Note 2: So, it's downvoting tag is it?)

              Last edited 15/01/14 2:14 pm

                I mean, they forgot that Howard put the money from his period of the boom into tax cuts which have proven challenging to remove. Not really a good approach for long-term budget management.

                What do you mean they forgot? I remember that.

                Costelo was frequently drawn as a butcher in the papers and political cartoons over his economic management. And rightfully so: the man was a meat cleaver personified.

                The surplus was OK but the continued cuts and the introduction of work choices are the main factors that got the Coalition kicked out back in 2007.

                Problem is the cuts have to be there now (ironically) because the spending money is not.

                (Note 2: So, it's downvoting tag is it?)

                I'm entitled to for that post. You are reaching out and trying to paint me a Liberal cheerleader.

                You do a pretty good job of making yourself look like a Liberals cheerleader; you certainly don't need my assistance.

                You assessment is incorrect: I am critical of both sides. And I cannot say one without saying a bad thing when discussing either side. If I was this so called cheerleader I would not be critical of the Coalition.

                Work on the claims and discussion I make. Keep way from my personality.

                Last edited 15/01/14 2:24 pm

                  You assessment is incorrect: I am critical of both sides. And I cannot say one without saying a bad thing when discussing either side. If I was this so called cheerleader I would not be critical of the Coalition.
                  Well, since your profile is hidden so it is difficult to establish a trend, all I have to work from is your responses to this Lifehacker post. There was a fair bit of Liberal backflip apologism and Labor/Green criticising going on, so it seemed a reasonable assessment.

                  @gnoshi: I am critical of the Coalition (the Liberals are just one part and don't have the numbers for form government on their own).

                  To set the record right here are my other claims against the Coalition.

                  First, it would do them well if they gag Abbott. His team is ready, he is not. If he can't compose himself during interviews he should not have been the Prime Minister. You need to be able to manage the party and present well at the same time.

                  Second, the NBN. The money is not their true but they should have halted the project instead of terminating it. Once they budget is correct (more on that later) they can then try and assess what is wrong with the Labor form of the NBN, correct it and update the roll out schedule.

                  A prior I used to think that the Coalition could make a Fibre NBN cheaper but I soon stumbled over a fact I previous had missed. Retrofitting older housing is not cheap so I am now doubtful even if both sides had the same idea, neither will keep the cost right.

                  Next is the budget. There is no denying that it is a mess. But what is laughable is how Joe Hockey did not know all the facts before going in. But they promised they will fix it so lets grab the popcorn and see how it pans out.

                  Asylum seekers. I've said enough so permit me to move on.

                  Threats of double dissolution of the senate. If they know what is good for them the Coalition will drop that threat as no good will come from acting it out. They would be idiots if they did. Doing so will put the government under the dictatorship category and it will make the Egypt riots look like a picnic.

                  Finally, their professional behaviour. Australia grew tired of the sheer immaturity of Labor and the Greens so the Coalition promised to be a government of adults. First day in and they didn't even last 15 minutes. See case in point: Nick Xenophon and his constant changing to the opposition on the first day when one of his own was at the stand.

                  There was one case where Hockey was highlighting the Coalition budget management. When Hockey made a point, Xenophon would chant the point three times.

                  Another case of point, Abbott's failure to discipline his own party member for calling the Opposition Leader "Electricity Bill" Shorten. While it is true, it is indeed against the rules of the house where all attendees are referred to by the political title and not their names.

                  I could go on but I think this is enough.

                  @wisehacker
                  Thanks for the extra context. It looks like there are some things on which we disagree, but you're right: I certainly can't call you a Liberal party cheerleader after that.

                  Threats of double dissolution of the senate. If they know what is good for them the Coalition will drop that threat as no good will come from acting it out. They would be idiots if they did. Doing so will put the government under the dictatorship category and it will make the Egypt riots look like a picnic.

                  Wut? The whole reason why double dissolution is an option for the government outlined in the constitution is because sometimes an elected house of representatives can't get what it wants due to an obstructive senate.
                  All that would come from a DD at this point is the Coalition losing most of its gains from the last election (or so the polls would suggest). There were no riots during the 1975 constitutional crisis, and there wouldn't be any for a DD today.

                  Last edited 16/01/14 11:37 am

      Sadly tombo, the liberal loving Aussies that voted them in will be just as scared of boat people coming to threaten their lives when the next election is called as they are now. Anecdotally I have found that people who think refugees/boat people/asylum seekers are a threat to us generally don't know/care about the internet, let alone the NBN.

        Oh come on! Not all illegal refugees are legitimate and Australia has a right to screen them to ensure they are as they claim. And if they burn their passports that is their own fault and they deserve to stay in limbo.

        As well as legitimate refugees you have are called economic refugees and (if I remember the term correctly) criminal refugees.

        Economic refugees are those that come from perfectly safe countries but are passing themselves off as a legitimate refugees so they can gain assess to the refugee resources and make themselves better off economically.

        And then there are criminal refugees which commit horrendous crimes like rape or murder and come here to escape their sentence (which often turns out to be death). Once such a refugee is on our shores, the refugee (even though a criminal) is allowed access to our courts and can easily fight extradition.

        There is a much bigger picture to this. Just because someone arrives on a boat illegally does not mean the person really is whom they claim. And Australia has a right to decide who to grant asylum to and who to deny.

        And before you try and put your label on me, I do too have sympathy for actual refugees who are fleeing war zones. But at the same time, this country has a right to defend its borders. The Government's responsibility is to the country citizen's first and if a refugee really was desperate they would keep the papers safe so we can see they are real fleeing refugees.

        Last edited 15/01/14 10:24 am

          I'm scared of these viking boat people, thats why I voted the Liberals - since they will round them up and burn them heathens or drown them in the sea!

            We can do without that trolling. If I wanted to see behaviour like yours, I'd watch question time on the ABC.

            If you are not going to contribute in a mature manner then please keep your comments to yourself.

            Last edited 15/01/14 10:56 am

              Are you taking shots at the ABC as it's not controlled or filtered by a one eyed liberal?

          Did I say anything about ALL refugees being legitimate?

          Just because someone comes here illegally doesn't mean they have something to hide. I was trying to illustrate a point that people believed in abbotts stop the boats message more than that the NBN is a necessary part of our future and will continue to do in the future.

          I love that we have a right to decide who to treat like a human and who to not treat like a human, makes me really relish the fact that we are in a civilized society with equal rights, unless deemed otherwise.

            I was trying to illustrate a point that people believed in abbotts stop the boats message more than that the NBN is a necessary part of our future and will continue to do in the future.

            That is an over generalisation. Our budget was in crisis, Labor was too scared of the Greens to do its job and a whole slew of other problems prompted Australian's to take their votes elsewhere.

            The election was not a single factor decision. It was based on the net offerings from the various parties.

          Yeah.
          Let's just look for some facts shall we.
          Asylum seekers who arrive by boat are subject to the same assessment criteria as all other asylum applicants. Past figures show that between 70 and 97 per cent of asylum seekers arriving by boat at different times have been found to be refugees and granted protection either in Australia or in another country. For example:
          according to the Refugee Council of Australia, in 1998–99, approximately 97 per cent of Iraqi and 92 per cent of Afghan applicants (the majority of whom would have arrived by boat) were granted refugee status and given permanent protection visas[39]
          under the ‘Pacific Solution’ a total of 1637 unauthorised arrivals were detained in the Nauru and Manus facilities between September 2001 and February 2008.[40] Of those, 1153 (70 per cent) were found to be refugees and ultimately resettled to Australia or other countries[41]
          during the Rudd Government approximately 90–95 per cent of assessments completed on Christmas Island resulted in protection visas being granted.[42] For example, of the 1254 claims assessed on Christmas Island between 1 July 2009 and 31 January 2010, only 110 people were assessed as not being refugees.[43] These figures suggest that 1144 (approximately 91 per cent) of those claims were successful.
          under the Refugee Status Assessment (RSA) process previously in place (introduced in July 2008; continued under the Protection Obligations Determination process introduced in March 2011; and continued under the single statutory Protection visa process for boat and air arrivals announced in November 2011), people who arrive unauthorised at an excised offshore place are prevented from lodging a protection visa application until they have had their claims assessed by DIAC.[44] Of the 2914 RSA assessments completed in 2009–10, 2126 individuals (73 per cent) were found to be refugees and 788 (27 per cent) were found not to be refugees and would not have been able to lodge an application for a protection visa. In 2009–10, 572 requests for review of their primary negative RSA outcome (Independent Merits Review) were received and 184 completed. Of those completed 81 (44 per cent) were found to be refugees.[45]
          the final protection visa grant rate for 2009–10 for people from Afghanistan (the majority of whom would have arrived by boat) was 99.7 per cent (this figure does not include those boat arrivals with a negative RSA outcome who would not have been able to lodge an application for a protection visa). Grant rates to people from Iraq, Iran and Burma, many of whom would also have arrived by boat, were also high, ranging from 96 to 98 per cent.

          Source

          Since well over half of the refugees arriving are genuine refugees, maybe it would be better if they weren't held in conditions which probably violate prohibitions against torture. That way, they will be less likely to develop mental health problems which continue after release into the community.

            And what of those who did not enter illegally, and went though the proper immigration processes?

            You think that went unhindered?

            Furthermore, in terms of placement where can we put them? The mainland is out of the question because even if a refugee is found be illegitimate, there is no automatic deportation. The refugee has set off on the land thus is entitled to our courts.

            There is nothing fancy about it and is one of the simplest laws out there. If you plant any physical part of your body on the soil or sand you are entitled to access to the courts.

            The discussion never was about a tidal wave of convicts or opportunists. It was about respecting the right Australia has to its own borders. This country itself has rights. It is not an open door that people can just go to and be taken care of: the people already there need to be considered.

            And while I am all for helping those in need, we have to have the resources to do so. And what has Labor done? Nothing more needs to be said. It has been established they trashed the place (and the Coalition only looked at the front yard before moving in).

            Let's just look for some facts shall we.

            Already have and took a good long look at the big picture. Just because I don't provide references does not mean I don't have facts behind me. If we were having this discussion five years ago I would have provided them. But no, I got sick of trolls trying to attack the references so to shut them up I don't disclose my references.

            Last edited 15/01/14 2:14 pm

              I like how you jumped to this from having a post entirely about criminal refugees, economic refugees, etc with a token postfix saying how you feel for those real refugees.

              * It was the Liberals who prevented the 'Malaysian solution' offshore processing, so if you're a fan of the offshore processing model maybe you should look to the Liberals as to why that didn't go ahead
              * Those who 'go through the proper immigration processes' do have to go through a lot of processing too. It is probably easier to do that when people are not at risk of death being in your original country
              * The situation could undoubtedly be vastly improved by improving processing in places like Indonesia, but that isn't where the money and effort is going

              There are reasonable arguments to be had about rate of intake, placement, and other logistical issues. Integration is certainly going to be harder though, when people are held in conditions the outcome of which is long-term mental health issues.
              Whether or not you think that these refugees should ever enter Australia and whatever might happen to them one their assessment is complete, there is a reasonable requirement to attend to their wellbeing while in detention.

              Ooh, you got sick of trolls did you, Mr 'Criminal and economic refugees wooooooo be afraid woooo'.

                Ooh, you got sick of trolls did you, Mr 'Criminal and economic refugees wooooooo be afraid woooo'.

                This is not a high school yard so behave yourself.

                Anyhow. You are right I am for offshore processing because the mess that is created if the refugee turns out to be false once on our shores. But that does not mean I condone all forms. Like everything there is a right way and a wrong way. And the Malaysian 'Solution' - besides being the biggest misnomer to date - was one of the worst ways to implement offshore processing.

                Accommodations while being processed do need to be improved I am not going to deny that. But who on this freaking planet is going to pay for it? If education is being cut right now then what money is there for detention camps? Another point against Hockey and those who seek to put the budget into surplus.

                There is no right nor pretty solution this. It is a train wreak and it is not going to change anytime soon.

                  Uh huh. Behave myself.

                  Anyway, for the next bit I'm going to use the term 'asylum seeker' because that covers both people who will and will not eventually be determined to be refugees.

                  Regarding 'the mess', do you mean that the reason you prefer offshore processing is so if an asylum seeker gets denied a visa (humanitarian, protection, whatever) they don't have access to the Australian legal system? If so, I'd be genuinely interested to know what you see as the negatives of the legal system being open to those asylum seekers.

                  I personally am not sure that having recourse through the Australian courts is such a bad thing. The two legal challenges I have seen (from memory and from some brief Googling) are:
                  1. Challenging negative ASIO assessments
                  2. Challenging the constitutionality of the asylum seeker 'programs'

                  In cases like this Sri Lankan refugee I think that #1 matters. It is all well and good for ASIO to label someone as a security risk, but there is no transparency as to what constitutes a security risk. I think that kind of hidden decision making is dangerous.
                  The second type is important also. Really, I don't think a government should be making laws that contradict the constitution, and if the goal is to ensure offshore processing avoids someone having standing to mount a challenge the law then I think that indicates that perhaps the law itself is dubious.

                  This isn't to say there are not other examples of legal challenges; just that I don't recall any. Feel free to link some if you're aware of them.

                  I'm not sure why you dislike the Malaysian solution so much. I actually though, so far as offshore processing goes, it was actually a very good approach. If the goal was to ensure that coming to Australia by boat was unattractive, then shipping arrivals off to Malaysia seemed like it might plausibly achieve that - or at least, there is no reason that it wouldn't have achieved it if Manus Island detention does. I also though that the process of accepting an ~equal number of already assessed refugees from Malaysia 'in exchange' was not a bad approach. I mean, if the idea is to take genuine refugees but avoid having refugees which arrive by boat accepted, it seemed to meet those goals.
                  (That isn't to say I personally approve of it, but I'm not even sure what is politically possible these days).

                  One of the challenges of detention is that it is horrendously expensive, especially taking into consideration the conditions in which the individuals are held. The best possible way to improve the situation with accommodation is to speed up processing. You've pointed out that there is no present normal way of repatriation/deportation - which does make things more difficult - but this is not made any easier by not accepting people even if they are determined to be genuine refugees. They have to go somewhere, right?

                  I think Australia could probably vastly improve the situation by increasing the number of staff operating to process refugee claims in Indonesia itself, so that there was something representing at least a glimmer of hope that people who were refugees there might get determined to be actual refugees in the foreseeable future and potentially be given a humanitarian visa by Australia.

                  The reality is that Australia has to be the ones to pay for it. It isn't necessarily nice, but it is a real and unavoidable cost (so long as community processing is not permitted). Community processing is vastly cheaper, but it does allow access to the Australian legal system. Also, if the goal is to 'stop the boats' then of course the government will not want any asylum seekers arriving by boat to wind up settled in Australia. Even the Labor government did that in their latter days.

                  I actually wonder cynically enough, whether the government actually wants Manus Island and other processing facilities to be as unpleasant as possible while not out-and-out torturing people. Not saying they are all horrible people or anything, but I think there are probably a few people who are willing to make decisions which are politically valuable but awful from a humanitarian perspective. If nothing else, it keeps ACA off their back with the 'refugees live in luxury while poor aussie battlers do it tough'.

                  Still, if the government really wants to even vaguely gesture in the direction of seeming to want to do something to help refugees while doing offshore processing and not accepting any asylum seekers who arrive by boat into Australia, they need to be accepting asylum seekers some other way so that there are genuine alternatives.

                  (Note: I actually think one of the biggest problems with managing refugees/asylum seekers is that no country really seems to want them. The xenophobia runs strong across nations, which precludes any good global solution because no-one wants to be left holding the bag.)

          Being a refugee isn't illegal. Unless you are an Aboriginal Australian, you're pretty much a refugee, immigrant, settler or a convict.

          "Economic refugees" was just a term made up to justify and try and humanise the policy debate to non-xenophobic grounds by Bob Carr.

          "And then there are criminal refugees which commit horrendous crimes like rape or murder and come here to escape their sentence (which often turns out to be death). Once such a refugee is on our shores, the refugee (even though a criminal) is allowed access to our courts and can easily fight extradition."

          Wow... Just wow... Are you serious?

          And before you try and put your label on me, I do too have sympathy for actual refugees who are fleeing war zones. But at the same time, this country has a right to defend its borders.

          Why does the country have to defend its borders? Who is invading and going to usurp our government and take the country over under their own rule?

            Wow... Just wow... Are you serious?

            I know it hard to believe. But what I say is true. Such refugees do exist.

            Why does the country have to defend its borders? Who is invading and going to usurp our government and take the country over under their own rule?

            Typo: I should have said control. Sorry about that.

          Not wanting to interrupt a long and obviously involved discussion, I was wondering if I could ask a small question;
          You refer to maritime refugees a number of times as "illegal". I'm having trouble locating a reference to the law that you are implying they have broken.

          I notice that the word has been used as a political imperitive by both major parties for many years, but no-one seems to be able to clarify exactly what their legal offence is.

          I was wondering if you could help me out with this.
          (or perhaps rethink your use of the term)

        I actually agree that most people don't know enough about the NBN and fundamentally I don't think that's a bad thing. I mean almost nobody understands how our drinking water gets to the tap, how our sewage gets treated and disposed, or how our power is generated. What they do notice is when these services don't function, which is exactly what I think is going to happen with broadband within this term of government. TV streaming, home gaming, telecommuting, home automation, VOIP, video calls, and cloud services being the known sources of home broadband usage growth.

        Essentially, when the bogans can't stream big brother, the NRL game, and ACA in HD at the same time, they'll start asking questions!

          Silly Tombo.
          ACA isn't on at the same time as Big Brother.

    There are more important things that first class Internet. It would help but we have other issues.

    The main on is the shambles the budget is in.

    It also did not help that Labor was constantly fighting with itself and playing puppet to the Greens.

      I swear the reply link is not always working. This was a reply to tombo and *still* it started a new discussion.

      Last edited 15/01/14 10:08 am

        WiseHacker, yeah I was having the same problem the other day.

      *cough cough* would do anything to get this job *cough cough*
      In minority government, you serve who you have to. TA would have done the same.

      Labor infighting, however, was a mess.

      If there is a budget emergency, maybe it is time to do something about FBT on cars and negative gearing, yes?

        Let them take care of the outstanding debts and out of control spending first. Providing Labor can stop holding Australia in contempt and stop blocking the measures to clean up the mess they made.

          So you're one of those 'we need a surplus at all costs' type, regardless of how many services are cut and how much QoL declines for those below the upper-middle class threshold.

          I'm not really sure in what way you are claiming Labor is 'holding Australia in contempt' and 'blocking the measures to clean up the mess they made'.
          If you're talking about the carbon tax, I fully support them in their decision to block the repeal. I'd actually be quite happy to see a double dissolution occur: maybe this time the motor enthusiasts party wouldn't get a seat on obscure preference dealings.

          Apart from that, though, I don't know what you feel Labor is holding up.

          I also think the idea of waiting to address FBT and Negative Gearing until 'outstanding debts and out of control spending' is taken care of is a furphy. I mean, if you're trying to take care of debts and manage spending then getting rid of tax avoidance opportunities would seem to make sense.

            I'm not really sure in what way you are claiming Labor is 'holding Australia in contempt' and 'blocking the measures to clean up the mess they made'.

            Being in opposition is one thing. But Labor at the moment is basically blocking things for no reason other than they can. Like the debt ceiling. I doubt Hockey's prediction we were going to default in December but I knew it would happen sooner rather than later.

            In the end, the ceiling got abolished but only because of support from the Greens. This is a move that will come back to haunt the Coalition. Number wise the Coalition does not need the Greens to stay in government but the fact they made a deal with them will be a large mark against them for now and into the future.

            As for the Carbon Tax, in all honestly it was never going to do what it originally intended. The original intent was to put a financial disincentive on polluters. From a distant view it sounded like a good idea but when you looked at the details everything went awry.

            First there was the pressure it would put on house holds thus they offered the household assistance packages. That's one front the tax is cancelled out: on the home owners.

            Second there was the pressure on businesses. To save them some stress they could pre-purchase carbon credits which (to my recollection) were not reindexed if the price rose. So there is a second indirect negation there: business could drastically the financial disincentive ahead of time.

            Thirdly, like all taxes, there are the administrative costs (someone has to do the admin and file the paper work and collect the tax as well as issue the credits and assistance packages).

            And finally at the end of all this all that happened was a insignificant reduction (0.1%) in generated immersions and a huge drain on the government coffers.

            Any income the tax many have generated (disincentive it maybe but a tax all the same) was countered on three fronts. The implementation was just a complete mess.

            I'd actually be quite happy to see a double dissolution occur

            Like I said before in my prior post, a double dissolution will only result in something akin to the Hindenberg crashing into the Titanic: overkill disaster. All the Coalition has to do is even hint they are moving ahead with a double dissolution and automatically our government will be reclassified as a dictatorship.

            I also think the idea of waiting to address FBT and Negative Gearing until 'outstanding debts and out of control spending' is taken care of is a furphy. I mean, if you're trying to take care of debts and manage spending then getting rid of tax avoidance opportunities would seem to make sense.

            No matter what the Coalition do, there will be negativity to it. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

            I'm not going to deny it, popularity wise the Coalition is going to be lower than engine oil sandwiches. But someone has to do it and I for one am glad its them.

            Labor (as the past two terms have shown) could not organise a fart in a baked bean eating contest. All because of one little selfish man called Kevin Rudd.

            It's still early times though so in the next two years (by then the election plans should be starting for when its called) me and other nay sayers could be proven wrong.

              Labor (as the past two terms have shown) could not organise a fart in a baked bean eating contest. All because of one little selfish man called Kevin Rudd.
              KRudd was a catastrophe, but to some extent I think he revealed some mess under the covers too.

              I can understand Labor blocking the increase to the debt ceiling. It wasn't mature, and I don't actually think it was a good idea, but after months of screaming 'Labor bad money managers' at the top of their lungs I think Labor would have quite liked to see the Coalition stew for a bit.
              I have mixed feelings about whether the deal with the Greens will come back to bite. Part of me hopes so, because I really loathe what I think the Coalition currently represents. Part of me doesn't, because I dislike brinksmanship more than I dislike the Coalition.

              I'm not really sure what would come out of a double dissolution. Hopefully a lot of hard thinking by a lot of people, but that's probably too much to hope for. If the population were more informed (myself included, but I suspect I pay more attention than many others) then I imagine politics would be somewhat different.

              With the Carbon Tax/ETS - again, I take a very different view, particularly in light of the Coalition's (abysmal) direct action policy. In fact, I'll go even further: it is truly bizarre that the pro-free-market Coalition wants to kill the relatively-free-market ETS approach to replace it with a centrally operated government scheme. It's a world gone topsy turvy.

              Anyway, back to the point: the tax was all about price signalling. Income was intended to go to compensate households who would be most adversely affected, but even if given compensation, there is still a relative cost advantage to lower-carbon-producing energy sources. Yes, there are administrative cost overheads, but that doesn't make the tax a bad thing. The real issue isn't the administrative costs, but rather how does the cost for unit of abatement compare to other approaches for the level of abatement desired.
              I mean, the lowest costs of implementation come from no implementation, but that doesn't achieve the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emission, so you have to choose some scheme to go with.
              It's a shame that Malcom Turnbull's better works on moving towards an ETS were scuttled by the Liberal party when they took on the hideous monstrosity of neo-conservatism that is Tony Abbott.

              I actually think the biggest weakness of the carbon tax was the fact that if it were successful, then the income would dry up but the other tax changes such as increasing the tax-free threshold would persist, which could lead to an imbalance in future incomes and future liabilities. TA will be making this worse by abolishing the carbon tax, but keeping all the liabilities that went with it, of course.

    This country hates its children.... just like this world!

    That's what you get when you pose questions to an idiot...you get stupid responses.

    It will take Australia a decade to realise how they've wronged themselves back last September.

      You may disagree with him, but Turnbull is anything but an idiot.

        I used to think that, but he's doing his damndest recently to prove me wrong.

          I would say he was more of a megalomaniac than an idiot. He appears to be so wrapped up in how incredibly clever he is that he would prefer to watch the country sink than admit he was wrong on anything.

    I read this as a lay person seeking to educate myself on the issues. I got more education from reading the comments than reading the interview.

    What a great deal of people seem to forget is the generation that are growing up behind us. They are being led by the generation ahead of us and that generation do not understand the importance of technology. Why should services which are readily available to other Western Civilisations not be available here? Its not the be all and end all and all the dummy spitting is in many cases unwarrented, but the importance of always ready information and a brilliant network infrastructure has been overlooked. Not only entertainment needs will suffer, businesses will suffer too. Having lived in several western countries it amazes my that we are so technologically behind here in Australia

    I am actually surprised that people seem only to focus on the transfer of large amounts of data, To be honest I think in 25 years the advancement of data compression will be greater, Don't get me wrong, I would love to get the NBN FTTP, but I am just saying that I think many people here are focusing only on through put of data, not the efficiency in which we transmit the data. This is really where we should be focusing, not only for greater amounts of information to be transferred, but reducing the overheads in storage.

      Well maybe if the government didn't hate science, then the CSIRO could do something about that.

      The efficiency of which we transmit data isn't really an NBN issue, though. Ultimately that discussion is one for engineers developing new transmission protocols and building end points. The issue is that, despite compression technology improving, the amount of data needed to be transmitted for next gen applications will continue to grow. In that context, focussing on compression instead of catering for exponential growth in bandwidth demand (rather than as well as it) is at best a mechanism for slightly delaying the inevitable, at worst a waste of time and money.

    The Q&A comes out as being a bit dull, through no fault of Malcolm.

    Almost all the questions can be paraphrased as "Why aren't you following the Labor FTTP model?" with a subtext that they're being idiots for not following that path.

    While it's an opinion that I broadly agree with it doesn't leave much room for actual dialogue.

    No one will read this comment, it's too far down the page.

    http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/20/sk-telecom-lte-a-300-mbps/?ncid=rss_truncated
    :(
    Not often I envy Korea.

Join the discussion!