An election is coming – ask politicians about the NBN

TLDR: Now is a good time to talk to your local member of parliament about what’s important to you. I hope many of us will talk to them about the NBN.

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

While it’s tempting to despair at the state of our political system, given the machinations that have gone on in the government over the last week. However I do think we are getting what we deserve. Unfortunately the level of disengagement in politics is at an all-time high. Political party membership has been on the decline for years. We are gripped by short-termism.

It reminds me of the dynamics that are created in a strata title body (the groups that manage a block units for example) – where typically a small number of people, with too much time on their hands, end up capturing the decision making process because nobody else can be bothered to get involved.

Unfortunately we live in a democracy (described by Churchill as “the worst form of government, except for all the others”) and that means that if the voters get disengaged the government ends up being captured by small group of people. Yes I know getting involved with politics is a hassle and can be tedious. However there are lots of things in life that just need to be done, like cleaning the house or mowing the lawn. Politics and democracy is one of those.

I get annoyed when politicians talk about the silent majority. Why are they silent? They should get up of their arses and call their local member – tell him or her what’s important to them. If they are silent, they deserve to be ignored.

We are without doubt heading into an election over the next year. Due to the changes at the top last week all the politicians are entering “election mode”, they should be listening to their electorates more than ever before.

My personal important issue is the NBN. I was absolutely dismayed at how little the NBN came up in the last 2016 federal election. Both sides essentially put it into the “all too hard basket”. Labor said they would “do more fibre”, but that was about it and it hardly got any traction.

The NBN is due to be completed over the term of the next government. So government policy on what will be done next is really important. Is NBN going to be sold off? Is the new government willing to take the budget hit and write the debt down? Are areas going to be upgraded? To what technology? Who’s going to pay for it (users or taxpayers)? Most Australians have ended up on FTTN – some of it works well, others are barely better than the previous ADSL service. What do businesses need to drive our economy into the future (hint: they aren’t going to be using less internet in 5 years time)? Right now most of the business community consider NBN a joke and are running off to get their own fibre links. What have we got for our $50bn, how can this be fixed?

If you care about the NBN (or any other issue), please don’t just sit on the sidelines posting your opinions of Facebook, get involved. Our biggest problem in Australia is not left or right politics, it’s voter apathy. If politicians work in a vacuum, the result is what you see today. Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. The problem is not the politicians – it’s us, collectively. Our lack of engagement is what is creating these governments. Let’s not let this happen again.

Fixing democracy will take some time (as will fixing the NBN), but we have to make a start.

Damian Ivereigh
CTO Launtel
25 August 2018