Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday opened fire on Tony Abbott, labelling him a “Luddite” for not having appearing to have anything to do with his party’s technology policies, on a day in which the Canberra press gallery also criticised the Opposition Leader on the issue.
Abbott did not mention his party’s broadband policy or Australia’s technology sector in general during the Coalition’s wide-ranging election campaign launch on Sunday, and this morning’s Coalition broadband policy launch was conducted by Shadow Communications Minister Tony Smith and Finance Spokesperson Andrew Robb.
In addition, Abbott has seldom commented on the Coalition’s attitude towards Labor’s controversial filter policy, leaving it to Smith, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull to detail the Coalition’s decision last week to vote against the project.
In a press conference today, Conroy said Abbott had had his chance on Sunday to outline his views for Australia — but “never talked about broadband” or technology in general.
“The man is a Luddite,” he said
Journalists at the Coalition’s press conference this morning also questioned Abbott’s absence. “Why isn’t Tony Abbott announcing this today?” asked one. And another questioned: “Why couldn’t you fly to Sydney and make this announcement, is the leader not across the detail of this?”
Robb said Abbott had to be in Sydney today to hold a press conference with the Opposition’s immigration spokesperson, Scott Morrison, who had just returned from a brief visit to the island to discuss striking a deal on detention centres.
“The boat people — it’s a huge issue for so many Australians,” Robb said.
Conroy demanded that Abbott explain the Coalition’s policy to regional Australia. The $6 billion rival broadband policy to Labor’s National Broadband Network project features a competitive backhaul network, regional and metropolitan wireless networks and an ADSL enrichment program that will target telephone exchanges without ADSL2+ broadband.
“Tony Abbott has to explain to those thousand towns why he’s locking them into a second-rate broadband network,” Conroy said, referring to rural areas who would receive fibre under Labor’s NBN plan. “The rest of the world is going fibre. The Coalition’s policy is fibre-free.”