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Thursday, 11 August 2016 11:56

One day, Fifield walked into the Netflix NBN bar...

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Politicians will always grasp at any straw to bolster their claims that they, and their initiatives, are the best and brightest in the land. Or at times across the globe.

But quite often, things tend to be stretched to the point where they strain credibility.

Australian Communications Minister Mitch Fifield is no exception. The man is out there this morning, issuing a release, that, rather mysteriously, has the word "Unclassified" at the top, and claims that figures from Netflix back the NBN strategy adopted by the Coalition government.

That word makes the release double up in importance, no doubt, else it would not have been left there by Mark Briers, who works for Fifield, and has proudly put his name to the release.

Of course, such foreplay provides a timely distraction away from the census debacle which has left the government and the Australian Bureau of Statistics struggling to clear away masses of egg from its collective face. Indeed, I hear from unreliable sources that there may be a shortage of eggs over the next few days.

As far as I can grasp, the meat of this media release — if indeed, there is any is the claim by Fifield that the speed index provided by Netflix mysteriously shows why Labor cannot be trusted to roll out the NBN. The rest is all small potatoes.

It seems rather redundant for Fifield to go barking up this tree, for the NBN debate is now over and done. Unless, of course, the man has fears that this government, of which he is part and parcel, will not last the full three years.

By 2019, there will be no going back on the current multi-mix technology build, for most of the network will be done and dusted - at least, going by the Coalition's estimates. That, in case Fifield hasn't noticed, is why you will find no article on the NBN in any tech publication after the day when Malcolm Turnbull scraped over the line.

So what is the point of trying to score cheap political points over Labor by using the NBN? You'd really have to wonder.

I think Fifield believes that the only use that people have for broad pipes is to watch movies on Netflix. His thinking appears to be similar to that of one of his predecessors, Richard Alston. The sole difference is that good old Dick believed the only reason people wanted a fat pipe was to watch porn.

To distribute poorly thought-out arguments like this is indicative of a muddled thought process. Perhaps Fifield has been receiving advice from Attorney-General George Brandis, that master of all the metadata he surveys.

Whatever the source Minister, please hire some decent media advisers who know which path to track when publicity is the need of the hour. This our-fast-broadband-plan-is-best-because-Netflix-blah-blah anthem only provokes mirth.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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