Independents to decide government warm on NBN

The likelihood of a hung parliament after the weekend’s Federal Election has left the fate of the National Broadband Network (NBN) up in the air, but supporters may take heart at comments from independent members set to hold the balance of power.

Independent MP for New England, Tony Windsor – one of four independent ministers that are joined by one Greens member in the gang of five that will decide who governs Australia this week - told Computerworld Australia prior to the election that he was in support of the NBN.

“On the issue of fast broadband infrastructure, communications in country areas such as the New England Electorate has been one of major concern to residents across our region and the feedback I have been receiving on the provision of the proposed Network in our Electorate has been very positive,” he said. “I have therefore strongly supported the NBN proposal and particularly the rollout of this infrastructure in country areas.

“I have been very pleased that the New England Electorate has been chosen as one of five ‘First Release Sites’ for the NBN at Armidale and the Government has recently announced the Armidale site is to be expanded.”

The independent also reiterated broadband would be a key policy in his decision on which side to support on the ABC’s 7.30 Report last night. He said he wanted to see what the parties have to offer on improving health and education over better broadband.

Independent MP Rob Oakeshott has also expressed support for better telecommunications in regional areas along with suggesting an Emissions Trading Scheme would be an important goal; indicating closer alignment with the Labor party.

The Greens, which hold the balance of power in the Senate, and achieved its first ever member of the lower house in a primary election with Adam Bandt in the seat of Melbourne, have already strongly come out in support of the NBN.

The views of independents Andrew Wilkie in Hobart and Bob Katter in north Queensland on broadband are not yet clear.

However, no deal is certain and until an announcement is made, NBN Co and the network it was meant to build will remain on death row.

The Coalition has vowed to scrap the NBN should it win power and in its place roll out wireless networks while investing in upgrading exchanges and backhaul.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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