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Tuesday, 24 August 2010 00:11

Independent gives big tick to NBN

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Independent MP Tony Windsor has once again given a big and very public tick to the National Broadband Network, and while he stopped short of making it the absolute kingmaker in terms of which party would win his support to form the next federal government, it is clear that the NBN will play a central role in negotiations between the independents and the main parties.

Mr Windsor, speaking on the ABC's Q&A programme on Monday night said that 'If ever there was a reform that negates distance as being a disadvantage of living in country Australia, this is it.' Asked how much impact the NBN rollout would have in terms of his negotiations with Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott he responded 'probably not a lot - but I think it will play a role in the next Parliament.'

Mr Windsor said his negotiations would focus on stability of government rather than isolated issues. 'I don't intend to go into negotiations with a grab bag of trinkets that I want for the electorate,' said Mr Windsor.

His electorate is however poised to be among the first to benefit from an NBN rollout if Labor can form Government.

Armidale, which is slap bang in the middle of Mr Windsor's own electorate is one of five First Release sites planned by the NBN Co. Earlier this month residents and businesses in the area were invited to sign up for free connection by September 7.

The Independent MP for New England has been a long term critic of telecommunications services thus far provided to regional Australia and a supporter of the NBN.  As far back as 2008 he noted that; 'Despite Telstra's and previous Government guarantees of equity of access for country people to telecommunication services supposedly enshrined in legislation, country people have had to accept second best.'

The NBN along with aged care and health were some of the issues Mr Windsor wanted to debate with the leaders. 'I'm not suggesting this is a choice between the Liberal party and the Labor party - I don't trust either of them.


'We have got to get it right - and there is an opportunity to get it right in this Parliament,' he said.

'This is a key driver. If there is one thing that we need both sides to agree on then this is it.'

In a wide ranging post election Q&A special the NBN featured only briefly, but managed to prompt significant social network traffic, leading to Tony Windsor being one of the terms trending on Twitter for a brief period. 

Mr Windsor was on a panel along with Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, and political commentators Graham Richardson and Janet Albrechtsen. NSW Senator Mark Arbib was a no-show after Julia Gillard told him not to participate.


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