Minister denies NBN backflip

FEDERAL POLITICS:

The Minister in charge of the National Broadband Network has emphatically denied that the Morrison Government is backflipping on its longstanding attitude towards the network.

Appearing at the National Press Club in Canberra, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said plans to upgrade the NBN through a $3.5 billion works package did not constitute a backflip.

The Abbott, Turnbull, and now Morrison governments have been attacked by the Labor Party and technology analysts and communications experts for dropping the original NBN concept of “fibre to the home” proposed by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The Liberal-National Coalition abandoned the Rudd model and instead opted for a cheaper system relying largely on the existing Telstra copper wire system to form the final link between homes and businesses and the NBN network.

“Our plans to directly link premises to the NBN with fibre cabling under our $3.5 billion plan is definitely not a backflip,” Mr Fletcher told the National Press Club (main picture).

Under sustained questioning he repeated his assertion.

“I can absolutely say with 100% confidence that it is not a backflip,” Mr Fletcher repeated.

Asked if he was being disingenuous by relying on a feeble statement about always being willing to review the government’s NBN policy and build on the network when feasible, the Minister maintained his position — albeit in mid-air.

“No, I can again confidently look you all in the eye — even if I am upside down for a moment or so — and tell you this is not a backflip.

“You see, if you perform a genuine backflip, you end up facing the same way you were facing before you executed the move.

“We as a government are clearly not going to be in the same position we were in once we finish our $3.5 billion upgrade.

“So it is definitely not a backflip,” Mr Fletcher said before steadying himself and ending his presentation after complaining of feeling giddy.