The Fair Call

Australian Politics & Current Affairs

The Battle for Wallets and Minds: Rupert Murdoch vs the National Broadband Network

 By Nick Kenny

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“You’d do well to question the motives behind the people saying these things” – Mark “Chopper” Read

Once in a lifetime, a solitary issue threatens to shake the very foundations of our nation, for better or worse. And more often than not, we don’t realize the gravity of it until after the fact.  Buried beneath distracting piles of the mundane, a commanding issue gets ignored. But this time, it is ignored on purpose.

We are on the verge of an information revolution – one constantly swept under the rug by a desperate and dying media. The toughest part about getting the spotlight onto this revolution is the fact that the entire crew running the show – the sound and lighting, the cast of characters, the screenwriter, the usher, the director, the producer, and all the expensive extras – will be out of work if they air this gig. For good.

The National Broadband Network is the defining issue of this election – but it is being deflected by an arrogant and condescending media. A media that knows that universal access to high-speed broadband will be scrawled across their epitaph. As puppets in the outmoded Murdoch print empire, they follow his lead. They parry the issue with the most inane distractions, like Abbott’s “sex appeal” gaffe, Rudd’s shaving accident, and a host of utterly mindless non-events.

The fact is the NBN will spur a revolution – both in Australia, and for other nations once they follow suit. The mainstream media, epitomised by the daily rags of the Murdoch Empire, anticipate this revolution. They are the ones who refuse to shed any serious light on the NBN, because they are the ones who stand to lose the most should it be completed. They are also the ones responsible for the elevation of an ignoramus like Tony Abbott, and they are the ones fighting the hardest to have the Labor government dismantled out in September, along with the NBN.

We’ve come a long way in recent decades – for the most part, we’ve figured out the “what”, the “who”, the “where”, and the “why”. These answers have helped us march through the Asian Financial Crisis, the Dot-Com bust, and the Global Financial Crisis without a recession. But Murdoch, that moribund media mogul of the last millennium, wants to choke the life out of our ideas and tie us to the past. He wants to control the “how”. The NBN is no less than the twenty-first century’s answer to the Hoover Dam and the Panama Canal – just like those behemoths of the Industrial Age and global trade, this will catapult Australia light years ahead in the Information Age. And it threatens the entire Murdoch Empire.

I’m daring you to take it from him. Fellow Australians, the future is yours. We are on the cusp of a new age. An intellectual renaissance, in which we tailor our skills, our careers, our creativity, our curiosities, our leisure, and our social contributions to our own needs. We have a chance to cast off the “timid” Australia we once were. The old Australia, the one that just follows in the footsteps of a now crippled Europe and corrupt USA.

We now have the rare chance to carve our own path, to sit in the driver’s seat of technology, information, innovation, ideas, and democratic wealth. For the first time, we have the capacity to lead the world in the world’s most important sphere – information technology.

The rest of the developed world is broke –literally, figuratively, or morally. By any measure of comparison, we have wealth. We have the fiscal, political, economic, vocational, and structural resources to take charge, revolutionise the country, and provide a model for the world to follow. We just need to take the horse flaps off.

On 7th September, you have a choice. If you wish to be spoon fed “information” by a money-grubbing eighty-something-year-old, interested in nothing more than his own insatiable quest for power, profits, and influence, then vote for his political hand-maiden: Tony Abbott’s Coalition. Vote for the party run by an arse-kisser, a man who literally got on his knees for Murdoch’s blessing, not in front of him, but behind. Vote for the fear factory.

If, however, you value your right to free, unfettered, diverse information, if you value your right to a free debate with your 23 million fellow Australians, if you share the belief that Australia’s “follow the leader” mentality is unhealthy, if you believe Australia has earned the right to lead the world in a true information revolution, and if you believe in progress over fear, then vote for the NBN’s architects.

Three more years of this Labor circus is a negligible price to pay for the unimaginable potential the NBN project will afford this great country – but first we need to wake up and realize it. This is the twenty-first century. This is the era of the “information economy”, and this is the future of our country and the world around us. Not propping up car manufacturers. Not investment from McDonald’s. Not farming. And definitely not slangin’ rocks to the Chinese.

This is no longer a country of felled trees, cheap ink, double-page advertisements, and selfish billionaires telling us what to think, how to think, and who to vote for. This is a country of honest, priceless, and limitless intellectual potential.

Murdoch’s chapter is over – yours is about to begin.

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