Incoming communications minister Malcolm Turnbull is facing a social media backlash after he seemingly brushed aside a snowballing online campaign to save Labor’s national broadband network (NBN).
An internet petition set up by a Liberal-voting student six days ago had more than 200,000 online signatures by 4pm (AEST) on Thursday, making it the largest ever online petition in Australia.
The NBN petition on Change.org calls on the incoming coalition government to scrap plans to create a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network in place of Labor’s existing fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) approach.
When asked on Twitter to reconsider policy in light of the petition, Mr Turnbull replied: “Wasn’t there an election recently at which nbn policy was a key issue?”
Mr Turnbull’s stirred a hornet’s nest of response, with hundreds of people flooding his Facebook page with comments and thousands appealing to him through Twitter.
“Wasn’t the NBN preceded and overshadowed by ‘stop the boats’ and ‘axe the tax’ at that recent election?” one Twitter user wrote.
“I would actually go as far as to say that your NBN policy was what saved Labor from annihilation,” said another.
The previous largest online petition called on advertisers to boycott controversial broadcaster Alan Jones in 2012.
Coincidentally, Mr Turnbull commented on that campaign, saying Mr Jones was getting a taste of his own medicine.
Labor’s FTTH network connects every home and business with optical fibre cables, which provides download speeds up to 1000 megabits a second (Mbps), upload speeds of 400Mbps and aimed to be completed by 2021.
The coalition’s FTTN policy, which will rely on existing copper lines, will provide most homes with download speeds of 50Mbps and upload speeds of 5Mbps by 2019.
The capital cost of the NBN under the coalition’s plan is $29.5 billion, against Labor’s $44.1 billion.