It’s never been more important to close the digital divide

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 6 April 2020

People are being required to work from home. Students are doing their lessons online. Telehealth consultations are now bulk-billed. All this will change the way we use the internet forever.

According to NBN Co, broadband demand is “skyrocketing” but they have everything under control. OK, so they and the telcos have upped their data capacity and, for those with fast and reliable broadband, all is well.

But that’s not the point. What about the third or more of the population with inferior FTTN (old copper wires) connections?

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The minister and the elephant: a broadband tale

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 31 March 2020

As we all hunker down to work or study online at home in response to the Coronavirus, according to communications minister Paul Fletcher everything is fine and dandy thanks to the National Broadband Network.

The reality is many families will struggle with inadequate telecommunications, especially those NBN customers with the FTTN (fibre-to-the node) service delivered over old copper wires.

To be fair to Mr Fletcher, the culprits who destroyed a nascent 21st Century broadband network – Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Mitch Fifield – have all gone offline, so to speak. They’ve left parliament and they left behind something smelling like what comes out of the wrong end of the elephant in the room.

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An opportunity for the Prime Minister’s National COVID-19 Coordination Commission to prove its mettle

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 26 March 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s newly announced National COVID-19 Coordination Commission provides an opportunity for Australia to start planning for a post Coronavirus era.

The creation of the Commission can be viewed in one of two ways. Either he’s put together a group of highly accomplished individuals who are “doing their bit for the country”, to quote Mr Morrison, and they’ll deliver great ideas and practical plans. Or, it’s a classic example of ‘pass the parcel’ and henceforth the government will be able to say they just did what they were advised to do.

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Telstra bells the broadband cat and spays NBN Co

By LAURIE PATTON | 27 February 2020

Telstra’s decision to only offer a maximum 50Mbps plan to more than half its NBN customers is another setback in the quest for #BetterBroadband and further vindication of Labor’s plan to make Australia what Malcolm Turnbull subsequently dubbed an “innovation nation”. It’s the latest fulfilment of a highly political decision by Tony Abbott to instruct Turnbull to demolish NBN Co.

If anyone knows about good and bad broadband it’s Telstra. And they know that anything other than fibre is second best.

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Sports rorts shows need for public sector re-think

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 24 February 2020

The buck has to stop somewhere. Despite the prime minister’s best efforts when it comes to the so-called ‘sport rorts’ affair it’s unlikely to stop with a temporarily sacked minister. Now the work of his highly politicised department head is firmly under scrutiny.

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School’s Out – Time for better governance and oversight in the education sector

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 23 February 2020

The principal resigned, his deputy stood aside, but apparently the school board knew nothing.

ABC Four Corners recently aired a comprehensive report in which it stated: “A top Catholic boys’ school is facing accusations of a culture of cover-up, after revelations its principal and dean of sport gave references for a now-convicted child sex offender but gave no support to the victim during the court process”.

Where does accountability ultimately lie when school children are hurt and it’s their teachers inflicting harm or covering up for those who are?

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How the OTIS group did Albanese a favour

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 16 February 2020

The OTIS group of disgruntled federal Labor politicians has helped Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese in a number of ways they probably didn’t intend.

For starters, forewarned is forearmed. His supporters – which is a majority of the caucus and overwhelmingly the grass roots party membership – want ‘Albo’ to become our next PM and nothing else comes close to being second prize.

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NBN latest: Oh dear, what can the matter be?

By LAURIE PATTON | 12 February 2020

You know the tune, so let’s all sing along: Oh dear, what can the matter be?

Or, if you prefer AC/DC, “Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap”. As we approach the NBN’s nominal completion date of June this year the decision to dump 21st Century fibre and cobble something together using old copper wires and run-down Pay TV cables has left too many Australians humming a very sad tune.

The release this week of the latest financial report from NBN Co underscores what a debacle we have on our hands.

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Overexposed – let’s hear from someone else!

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 27 January 2020

In the film classic Casablanca, whenever a crime is committed the local police captain orders his officers to round up the usual suspects.

Political commentary, in fact public commentary in general in Australia suffers from the Casablanca effect. The same bunch of over-opinionated fringe players who see themselves as instant experts on anything and everything. Never slow to pop their heads up with a controversial quote for the media. The usual suspects!

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Catch 22.0 – we wouldn’t need inquiries if public administration wasn’t so broken

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster

By LAURIE PATTON | 17 January 2019

So we’re having a royal commission into the bushfires that have Australia in crisis mode right now. Yet, as this article points out: “Over the last 61 years state and federal governments have initiated 57 separate reports on bushfire management, most of which came to similar conclusions and yet the tragedies continue…”

A lack of action by our governments and their agencies has clearly been a major contributing factor to the extent of these latest losses of life and property. But this is just one example of a systematic failure in public administration. Nobody is ever held accountable when things go wrong and seldom do formal inquiries lead to anything fundamentally worthwhile. That needs to change.

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