I find it rather puzzling politics that Rudd should want to use income from the future fund to pay for something that, on the face of it, is capable of being paid for from the "normal" current budget surplus. Not only that, he says on 7.30 Report that he may do it again for things that are needed.
Fran Kelly on Radio National this morning seemed to be pressing the line that Rudd is leaving himself wide open for attack on economic credentials here; Michelle Gratton seemed to think it was too early to tell if the public will notice.
A good summary of the issues, and the hypocrisy of the ALP on this, is at Niner Charlie.
Here some of my own points on this:
1. I would like to know how rubbery are the figures thrown about for how faster broadband will result in greater productivity and a stronger economy. I mean, businesses that really need faster broadband don't set up in an area with fast broadband access problems, do they? Faster broadband seems to me to mainly the concern of domestic users, with the big problem being the "black spots" that currently exist even in urban areas.
2. Predictions that the Future Fund is ahead of schedule, or won't be called on as soon as earlier predicted, seem rather dangerous. No one seems to be factoring in the possibility of major world economic problems (I assume stemming from a dramatic collapse in China) within the next decade or so.
3. Is this costing for the project accurate or rubbery? The Age, as one might expect, thinks it is a great idea, and mentions Singapore spending $5 billion to get optical fibre to every user. I know the Australian plan would not be the same, but still the cost sounds low to me.
Interesting days ahead.