News Limited editors did not argue any of these points during our meeting, but by the end of the discussion it was clear that none of these facts was convincing for them. News Limited’s position regarding the NBN seemed to be one of principle. Never mind that the private sector would never build an NBN, or that the current market structure was flawed, or that government had a successful history of fixed-line infrastructure building. The view from News Limited’s side of the table was that the government just shouldn’t be building this sort of public infrastructure.
News Limited was not alone in its position. One of the most frequent comments I heard during the dozens of public speeches and presentations that I gave on the NBN was “Why are you building this? No commercial company would undertake this project. The returns are too low and the risks are too high.” That was precisely the reason the government was doing it, I would reply – because no purely commercial entity would undertake a project like the NBN.
Michael Quigley on infrastructure.
Quigley is, of course, the first and former head of NBN Co, the government-owned corporation established to deploy high-speed broadband throughout Australia. Particularly, as pointed out above, to regional and rural areas under-served by existing private sector telcos because, not to put too fine a point on it, there’s not enough profit in rolling out broadband internet across the desert.
To say that the NBN was sabotaged by right-wing and corporate interests would be putting it mildly. Again, as mentioned in the quote, News Limited (i.e. Rupert “Fox News” Murdoch’s media empire) was one of the prime saboteurs, aided by the existing commercial telcos, basically because, again, having to compete against nationalized infrastructure would cut into profits.
Tl;dr, what happened to the NBN—what was allowed to happen to the NBN—was nothing less than wholesale theft against the Australian public for the enrichment of a handful of millionaire CEOs and their boot-licking cronies.