Tuesday, June 13, 2017

NBN Pork-barreling Worked

Research by Alizadeh and Farid (2017) found that pork-barreling by Australian politicians over the National Broadband Network (NBN) worked. Voters who received early access to high speed broadband rewarded the party which provided this with their votes:
    "An analysis of the voting behaviour in the 2007 and the 2010 Federal elections shows a pattern in which the ALP held seats were the key beneficiaries of the early NBN rollout. Moreover, the results suggests that the Coalition held safe seats were the least likely to receive the infrastructure. Diverse sub-patterns across the three states of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria have been discussed in details. However, the overall findings remain that the selection process for the early NBN rollout was skewed up for potential political gains.

    The paper then moves to the second question on whether the targeted infrastructure provision worked and swung votes for the ALP in the following 2013 Federal election. The analysis of the voting in the NBN early rollout areas versus the rest of the country shows a clear difference. While the ALP experienced an overall heavy negative swing across the nation and lost the election, the negative shift was highly mitigated in the NBN early release sites."

    From Alizadeh and Farid, 2017.
I suggest the lesson from this is: when proposing tech policy, find some aspect which offers short term political gain. Making appeals to the national interest and long term benefit is of little relevance to politicians aiming to win the next election. So how do we make changes we think need to be made to Internet policy appealing to voters in the short term and so therefore appealing to politicians?


Alizadeh, T., & Farid, R. (2017). Political economy of telecommunication infrastructure: An investigation of the National Broadband Network early rollout and pork barrel politics in Australia. Telecommunications Policy, 41(4), 242-252. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.telpol.2017.02.002

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