Coonan fails broadband history (no surprise)

The more you dig, the more it’s obvious that communications minister Helen Coonan is completely out of her depth.

On the ABC’s The Insiders on 25 March, the Raccoonan said: “If you just look back a couple of years ago no-one had even heard about broadband.”

No, Senator, I think it’s only you who hadn’t heard of it. The rest of us had it connected to our homes and offices.

Even 12 years ago there was Paul Keating’s Broadband Services Expert Group. Their final report included recommendations like:

With the spread of broadband infrastructure, broadband links be provided to all schools, libraries, medical and community centres by the year 2001.


Telecommunications carriers and broadband network operators be required to inform government annually of their strategies for upgrading their networks, including the expected level of digitisation of existing network services, and the expected extent of broadband network coverage. This requirement should be reviewed by the year 2000.

Hat tip to Prof Roger Clarke for bringing this one to my attention.

[P.S. If you haven’t already done so, please vote in my poll about Coonan. If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, you’ll have to go to my website for that.]

3 Replies to “Coonan fails broadband history (no surprise)”

  1. Well. Technically, broadband (as compared to baseband/narrowband/wideband etc) has been around for at least a few decades…

    I doubt that the ‘broadband’ Keating’s group was talking about in 95 was the same as we’re talking about today (dsl, fttn).

    But still. Even if what Raccoonan (I still think she looks like a startled deer, but it doesn’t work itself into a nice pun) meant was “no-one had seriously considered an FTTN network”, she’s choosing her words badly (and showing her lack of understanding of the topic).

  2. @Zhasper: Precisement, mon frère. The Raccoonan is minister for communications. And while I don’t demand that the minister for communications is a network engineer — neither would I insist that the health minister was a doctor or the defence minister a soldier — I do expect them to have a basic understanding of the field. Things like its recent history, basic structure and language.

    Would you trust a defence minister who couldn’t tell a tank from a personnel carrier, an agriculture minister who couldn’t tell a tractor from a bulldozer, or a trade minister who confused a “ton of coal” with a “tin of coal”? No. But that’s precisely what’s happening when Coonan confuses megabytes and megabits — and she does it pretty much every time she opens her mouth.

    Keating’s “broadband” was ADSL. Well, it was 1995 and the bush could only punch 28kb down shoddy analog phone lines. A clean digital feed of 64kb would have seemed like heaven.

  3. The Raccoonan is better off as a raccoon than a deer – at least deer tastes nice. Mussed up vermin sums her up nicely.

    And yes, she really does need to pay a bit more attention to her briefings. Or maybe her staff are deliberately giving her crap? The mind ponders.

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