Victoria’s new technology minister has confirmed the state’s fledgling Coalition Government does not support the introduction of Labor’s preferred ‘opt-out’ model for the National Broadband Network (NBN).
The move will force residents to actively choose to receive fibre infrastructure when the rollout hits their neighbourhood.
In early December, the state’s new Premier Ted Baillieu gave a strong indication he was against the opt-out model, saying it should be “optional” for premises to receive fibre. However, it has remained unclear if Bailieu’s off the cuff comments represented Coalition policy — until now.
“The position of the government is that it does not support the introduction of ‘opt-out’ policy,” the state’s new technology minister, Gordon Rich-Phillips, said.
He didn’t elaborate further on the Coalition’s reasoning for the policy decision. However, he noted the State Government was in ongoing discussions with its Federal counterpart in relation to the NBN.
“Current matters being discussed are around establishing the nerve centre and NBN Co’s network operations centre in Melbourne,” Rich-Phillips said.
The decision by the Victorian Government to block the NBN opt-out model will place the state at loggerheads with Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who has expressed a strong preference for the opt-out model.
In addition, it displays division within the Coalition itself about the issue. In Tasmania, the Labor State Government has legislated to support an opt-out model at the urging of the Opposition, with the state attempting to make the most of the technology rollout. Most of the other state governments are yet to take a formal policy decision on the matter; and NSW, for one, is currently in a state of flux as it prepares for an expected change of Government to the Coalition early in 2011.
Victoria’s choice will also likely force NBN Co into conducting a higher degree of education campaigns in the state, as it attempts to convince residents to opt-in to the fibre rollout. It has already started conducting such efforts in early stage rollout areas throughout mainland Australia.