Australia now knows who the chief pitch-man for the National Broadband Network is to be: longtime MP and now deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese.
Albanese, who has been in federal parliament since 1996, has a long-standing interest in public infrastructure, but will have a steep learning curve to master the telecommunications portfolio. While frequently abrasive in his public persona, senator Stephen Conroy was widely acknowledged as having mastered his brief as Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
Conroy resigned his portfolio in the ALP leadership turmoil of the last week, in which prime minister Julia Gillard was replaced with Kevin Rudd. As a long-term Gillard supporter, Conroy had stated that he would not serve under Rudd.
Albanese inherits a project that's going to need a fast learner: while regarded as a popular project, the NBN has been under ongoing political attack over construction delays, the discovery of asbestos on Telstra pits, and the federal opposition's complaint that the network is too expensive.
Albanese will be assisted by the ACT's Kate Lundy, long known for her interest in technology and telecommunications. She will have the role of minister assisting for the digital economy.
Meanwhile, Ed Husic – known to Australia's IT community as the man who has led the parliamentary inquiry into tech pricing in this country – has won a supporting role, being appointed parliamentary secretary to the prime minister for broadband.
The Register would take this opportunity to remind readers that we hope to add to the debate, in a strictly non-partisan fashion, by commissioning a crowd-funded study into the NBN.
If our fund-raising, here, is successful, we will commission respected analysts Market Clarity and IBRS, to investigate Australia's broadband requirements now and into the future.
With 151 supporters and nearly $6,500 raised, we've made a good start, but we need more. So spread the link and spread the word! ®