The Victorian State Government has announced it will make signing up to the National Broadband Network an opt-out process, following in the footsteps of the Tasmanian Government.
If successful, the move will mean all Victorian premises will be automatically connected to the NBN unless they submit written forms refusing to take part.
“A future Brumby Labor Government will design and implement an ‘opt-out model’ for the network to quickly roll out the NBN across as much of Victoria as possible,” a statement from Victorian Treasurer and ICT Minister, John Lenders, said. “This would either involve deceloping a national process in partnership with the Gillard Labor Government to be rolled out across the States or legislating for the relevant changes in the Victorian Government.”
Victorian Shadow Minister for IT, Gordon Rich-Phillips, said the Opposition would not be able to support or oppose the opt-out measure without more information and that his party would only have a position ready after the State election on November 27.
"We would want to see some justification for it before we went down that path," he said. "This is a complete change of position for John Lenders because six weeks ago he said Victoria had no intention of going opt-out.
"My view of NBN is I'd like to see it stand on its merits. It's an unusual step to have this type of opt-out legislation."
The move was made following consultations with Federal Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy. During an event in Sydney, he told an audience in Sydney to expect an announcement on the issue during the election campaign.
Victoria is the second state after Tasmania to officially take on the measure. The Opposition there initially supported opt-out as the standard measure, but has since tempered its support.
Experts suggest an opt-out process will greatly increase National Broadband Network take-up rates, which have hovered around the 50 per cent mark in Tasmania. ARN understands the office of Minister Conroy will begin detailed discussions on the issue with the NSW State Government after the State elections in March 2011.