The Federal and Tasmanian State Liberal parties are at loggerheads over which method is best for rolling out the National Broadband Network.
Tasmania’s Premier, David Bartlett, announced a push to make the local rollout an opt-out process, rather than an opt-in one. The move would mean all connectable properties would be entered and passed unless the owner explicitly denied access in writing.
A spokesperson for Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, confirmed the Coalition preferred an opt-in process to promote competition and ease of choice.
“The Tasmanian Government’s push…confirms that the business plan of the NBN depends on compulsion,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “If Australian consumers want a fixed line for telephony or Internet access, they are going to have to use NBN’s line – like it or not.”
But the Tasmanian Liberal shadow minister for Science and Technnology, Michael Ferguson, is strongly supportive of the NBN having an opt-out model.
“The opt-out model which the Liberal Party proposed is the way to go,” he told the ABC Online.
The State Opposition’s stance means the opt-out legislation should not have too many hurdles when introduced to parliament.
Premier Bartlett denied the NBN was based on compulsion and claimed Turnbull was trying to run a scare campaign and opposing the policy for the sake of opposition.
“Which of those two Liberal Oppositions are we to believe?” he asked Tasmanian ABC radio. “The Liberal Opposition, both Federal and State, are deeply disconnected when it comes to the aspirations of Tasmanians and the rollout of optic fibre.
“There is clear confusion in Liberal ranks about what NBN is, what it means for the future of Tasmania.”
Ovum research director, David Kennedy, said the move made sense and did not have any obvious negatives attached.
“It’s only a negative in the sense of if you don’t want it you’ll have to say so,” he said. “People do retain a choice in whether they get it or not so I think that’s acceptable.
“For the health of the NBN it’s a good move and I’m not surprised they’re doing it.”