Getting behind the lies, fake news and spin on refugees and asylum seekers

By JOHN MENADUE | 13 February 2019

Our discussion on asylum seekers is ill-informed. It’s a disgrace. Our politicians and our media have failed us. With boat arrivals stopped, people smugglers have turned to the air to bring asylum seekers to Australia in record numbers. Peter Dutton and the media have turned a blind eye to this breakdown in our border protection.

The “debate” on this week’s Insiders program was all about the politics and the politics of fear. We were incessantly warned that boat arrivals would start again if we did anything serious to support the 1,000 wounded souls that we have abandoned in Manus and Nauru. It is dishonest nonsense and propaganda to assert that the Australian Navy in cooperation with Indonesia cannot stop boat arrivals.

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The latest spin from NBN Co | “We do not see any basis for a write down”.

By LAURIE PATTON | 12 February 2019

Yesterday at Senate Estimates the new(ish) NBN Co CEO, Stephen Rue, made a brave defence of the project. This is my initial response…

Mr Rue is clearly under pressure not to deviate from the board’s stated position. His technical explanation regarding a “write down” is correct, but largely irrelevant. The fact is NBN Co is not making enough money. And this is because of the current flawed technologies being deployed.

Less than half the total premises connected or ready to be connected are actually signed up.

There is no incentive for RSP’s to move their customers to the NBN until they absolutely have to because they have better margins from their legacy systems. Likewise, there is so much ‘bad press’ about the NBN that it appears many potential NBN customers are holding off moving until they have no choice and/or are opting to go mobile.

Sooner rather than later NBN Co will need to start ripping out its inferior FTTN network, using old copper wires. It is predicted that this will cost billions of unbudgeted dollars.

FTTN cannot compete with current mobile phone speeds, much less what will eventually be possible when 5G is rolled out. 4G mobile is already faster than FTTN. Around 30 percent of NBN Co customers are being lumbered with this junk.

In the end, whoever is on office later this year will have to bail out NBN Co in some form.

According to the Communications department, NBN Co will now need more than the $19 billion the Government has agreed to lend it to complete the rollout, and has little (read no) chance of being able to pay it back on time.

(Laurie Patton was CEO / Executive Director of Internet Australia, the NFP peak body representing the interests of Internet users, from 2014-2017.)

It’s poor long term planning, not the size of the population, that’s the problem

LAURIE PATTON | 21 November 2018

As Christopher Pyne has pointed out, “We don’t need to put a handbrake on population growth, we need to manage our population growth sensibly in a country which quite frankly can take a lot more than 25 million people”. Pyne comes from Adelaide, of course, where the state government says it would like to see a lot more people living.

We do need to think carefully about how we make our cities more liveable and more sustainable however, and we need to question whether so many people should be crammed into already congested capital cities like Melbourne and Sydney.

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A tale of two smart cities – life in the NFP sector

By LAURIE PATTON | 23 January 2019

Many of my friends and colleagues have asked me  “what happened at ASCA?” but until now I have not been in a position to reply.

Around the world the latest buzz in the tech sector is about something called ‘smart cities’. This essentially involves using existing and emerging technologies, many of these communications based, in order to make our cities and communities more liveable and more sustainable. Along with a national decentralisation plan I believe we could use smart cities initiatives to dramatically improve life for millions of Australians.

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My New Year’s Resolution – Keep fighting for #BetterBroadband

By LAURIE PATTON | 6 January 2019

2019 is shaping up as the year we’ll be forced to face the fact we are building a National Broadband Network that simply isn’t good enough. It’s also the year our major telcos will start rolling out their capital-intensive 5G mobile networks, having spent millions of dollars buying up spectrum from the federal government.

Nobody seems to have asked if we really need 5G right now. Or why Australia is rushing to be one of the first countries to adopt 5G when 4G speeds are more than most of us realistically need at the moment, or will need for some time? Too few commentators have delved into the ‘value proposition’, or asked if 5G, at least in its first iteration, will actually be all that some people are predicting.

As a nation keen to be a leader in the 21st Century’s digitally-enabled world we’d arguably be better off fixing the NBN before investing in mobile networks few in the know reckon will add much to the consumer experience.

Across the country people are coming to understand that the broadband network we are being delivered is a dud – especially in the bush!

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Time to ditch our dud NBN – beaten by the ‘All Blacks of Broadband’

By LAURIE PATTON | 16 November 2018

The contrast could not be any starker. As warnings emerged that Australia’s telcos are seeing their profits squeezed by the end of NBN Co’s short-lived wholesale price discount (with the likelihood that retail prices will rise), across the ditch came word that New Zealanders are about to see their broadband speeds greatly increase while the cost of connecting to the Internet will come down. How could this be?

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ACCC begins search for light at the end of the NBN technology tunnel

By LAURIE PATTON | 6 November 2018

The boss of the ACCC, Rod Sims, has told The Australian “its recent dealings with the retail telcos has highlighted a weakness with the fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) access technology”.

For numerous broadband experts, not to mention millions of hapless NBN customers, this might be seen as a classic ‘no shit Sherlock’ moment. However, it is probably the most significant recent development in the long running saga that began with Labor’s 21st Century fibre-based national broadband network, only to end in tears for so many when former prime minister Tony Abbott ordered his heavily-wedged communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to “destroy” the NBN.

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Planning for smart cities – Code of Practice released

By LAURIE PATTON | 31 October 2018

“Enhanced telecommunications connectivity, data insights, digital planning practices and innovation districts” will underpin the creation of so-called ‘smart cities’. That’s the theme of a Code of Practice released this week as part of Smart Cities Week Australia.

Developed by leading smart cities advocacy group the Smart Cities Council and the Green Building Council of Australia the voluntary code is designed to shorten the ‘transformation’ cycle and is aimed at both government and industry players.

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Australians have no interest in joining US cold war against China

By BOB CARR | 23 October 2018

Former Australian foreign minister and high commissioner to the United Kingdon Alexander Downer chewed ruminatively on his steak: “If you want a cold war with China, you will get a cold war with China”.  I had just been appointed foreign minister and was consulting my predecessors. Downer implied cold war was not smart diplomacy and not in Australia’s interest. But in its biggest policy shift on China since 1971, that is precisely what the US has embarked upon.

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Renewable water – The next ‘big thing’

By CHRIS MILLS | 8 October 2018

When cattle and sheep are dying in vast numbers across Eastern Australia, how sane is it for the driest inhabited continent in the world not to capture and redirect wastewater and stormwater from our cities and towns into food and beverage production? Energy is a major component of the cost of treating and moving water. Renewable energy sources can become an essential component of responding to the effects of climate change and climbing temperatures

Fortunately, there are some very bright and committed minds working on this issue, especially in our state and territory water supply agencies.

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