THE National Broadband Network was always destined to be a political football from the moment it was first envisaged and the first commitment made.
The bigger the dream, the more likely the kicking.
It’s the way Australian politics has evolved, and the spirit of bipartisanship is sadly an all too rare instance, especially when it comes to matters that are nation building.
There’s no doubt the NBN has been a disappointing experience for an unacceptable number of Australians, but this was always likely to be so.
The NBN was never going to be something likely to be delivered on time and under budget, if for no other reason than the way politics works (or doesn’t work) in this country means delays, blowouts and changes are inevitable.
Maybe we should stop labelling those politicians who are not in power as the opposition, because the fact they see opposition to anything a government seeks to do as being a core responsibility is damaging – at all levels of government and to all sectors of the community.
To be fair, technology, or more precisely, changes in technology, will continue to drive change and innovation, and while this is also a good thing, it does pose a risk to the National Broadband Network, most recently in the form of the much touted 5G technology.
Delivering a vastly superior broadband network to every household and every business was never going to be easy, but the promise to do so was made, and this has instilled a sense of entitlement and expectation in all of us the federal government has largely struggled to meet.
Balancing those expectations with the need to balance the books is almost impossible to do, and comparisons to other nations are not always fair.
Australia’s sparse and relatively small population, and the distance between major population centres make the NBN Co’s project even more challenging.
At the same time, other cities in the world have been able to demonstrate the benefits of the superior 5G technology and utilise them as a lure for business and industry – an economic development tool for any city with the means to fund and sustain a 5G network.
Any city in the modern era that wants to be known as a smart city must consider 5G as a potential way of doing business, and a way to lure business.
For its part, Bendigo is a can do city with a proud track record in so many segments of industry.
We are also actively seeking federal consideration and funding to be part of the smart cities program, an achievement that could drive a new generation of growth, innovation and economic development.
Bendigo is a proven leader in manufacturing, in telecommunications, in finance and in education, and in recent years we have benefitted greatly from government investment in all of these areas, by all levels of government.
These are the building blocks that have guided the development of our great city for the past 160-odd years.
They are also the ingredients of our city’s future successes.