NBN a lifeline for Labor

Posted by

The government is set to release maps showing that its broadband network will reach 93 per cent of the nation’s households and businesses.


“That means an extra 300,000 extra premises … this is great news,” Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told ABC Radio on Friday.

The $43 billion high-speed fibre network is a major point of difference between the government and opposition, something Labor is keen to emphasise.

A trial of the network is under way in the three Tasmanian towns where the take-up rate of 50 per cent has exceeded expectations.

“The cynics, the doomsayers claimed we were only going to get 10 per cent or 15 per cent (on the network),” Senator Conroy said.

The opposition fears the cost of the network could blow out to $80 billion plus, saying the government approach is irresponsible.

“This is a massive use of taxpayers’ money,” communications spokesman Tony Smith said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard takes the Labor campaign to Perth where the government’s minerals resource rent tax is on the nose with West Australian voters.

Small and medium-tier miners have begun a campaign of their own against the tax by targetting marginal Labor seats in WA and Queensland.

The modified tax, which was hammered out in a deal negotiated between the government and the three big miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata, will be the subject of a Senate inquiry report later on Friday.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is in Adelaide where he will announce a $100 million community water grants program.

The program aims to encourage community organisations and schools to develop water conservation projects.

Labor’s “moving forward” campaign may have to look to the past to bolster its flagging fortunes in Queensland.

There are reports the party has asked dumped prime minister Kevin Rudd to campaign for the party outside his Brisbane seat of Griffith.

Labor strategists believe Mr Rudd is an asset for the party in Queensland, where the federal government is most vulnerable, The Sydney Morning Herald said on Friday.

That’s despite criticism of Mr Rudd from another former leader Mark Latham.

Mr Latham, who once described Mr Rudd as a serial leaker, said the former prime minister was acting “beneath a decent Aussie bloke” if he was the source of internal party leaks that are threatening to derail the Labor campaign.