If the Coalition, currently lead by Malcolm Turnbull, were back being the Government, the $950 million rural broadband network tender that were shelved by the Rudd Government would come back, according to Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin in an interview with ZDNet.com.au.
The tender, won by the OPEL consortium, owned by Optus and Elders’ telecommunications arm, would have seen an additional network for rural areas. OPEL has since closed after the tender was then pulled by Senator Stephen Conroy to focus its attention to the National Broadband Network.
“If it was today — given that this process has been so bad, I think we would still want to do what we wanted to do in government,” Minchin said in the interview. “I think we should put in place the essence of the OPEL contract. You might have to re-tender it now.”
The tender was pulled in April last year, after Conroy said that it failed to meet certain terms of the contract, including that it would only cover 72 percent of the “indentified under-served premises”.
According to ZDNet, if the plan still went ahead, the network would have been in operation sometime this year – unlike the long timeframe from the National Broadband Network.
Also in the interview, he also discussed about the new ISP filter. He said that he was willing to work with the industry to have filtering, but unlike the current plan, he would make it an optional filter – allowing customers to choose if they want to have filtering or not.
“It never occurred to (the Liberal Party) to just mandate that all ISPs must filter everything that goes to their customers,” he said. “If we were elected tomorrow, we would reinstitute NetAlert, reinstitute the free provision of PC-based filters for families that want it and to work with the industry to develop a code.”
He also says that while he is a Conservative politician, he does not want this to be implemented. “I think the responsibility lies with families to ensure their children are protected from illicit material,” he said.
The full interview can be found below: