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In order to fix our glacially slow broadband network, the government is pushing through a new tax. Aren’t we already paying for something that doesn’t work?

 

 

In 1696, the crown instituted the window tax, a one levelled against houses with more than x amount of windows. As a result, landlords started bricking up windows in existing houses, creating more, albeit restrictive dwellings in their place; ostensibly homes without windows. As no definition of a window was included in the legislation, and it tended to be interpreted in such a way as to include the smallest of openings in any wall.

As a result, the existing tenants had less space and paid more rent within the already agreed upon contract.

323 years later, we find ourselves in a similar situation, as the federal government is set to roll out its maligned (and oft-delayed) broadband tax.

The tax was first proposed in December 2016, one that would see residential and business users of “NBN-equivalent” fixed-line services slapped with a monthly fee. If you were to combine this with NBN Co’s already suggested (and put forward) concept of a higher service fee for those who use their (enforced) system for internet streaming, the so-called Netflix tax.

 

 

We find ourselves in a moronic situation. While the government is not so much keen on fixing the system, they’re more than willing to tax it. The proceeds of the new tax, per itnews.com.au, “would be used by NBN Co to fund future costs of commercially unviable portions of its network – the satellite and fixed wireless footprints – and prevent future calls on the budget or public funds.”

It’s worth mentioning that the government has the granted NBN Co an extra three years to repay its $19.5 billion loan, in order to complete building the network.

NBN users are not be expected to pay the tax because it is already built into the wholesale price they pay.

The network remains patchy, slow, and unreliable, an equation with a difficult solution. It’s slow, it’s expensive. But, clearly, thinking is out, taxing is in.

 

Twitter: @woolkebb

 

Both taxes represent windows to the soul of our primary internet provider, our government. “Given the current state of the economics of the NBN, it’s difficult for Labor to oppose this tax outright but we do consider its imposition to be highly unfortunate,” said Tasmanian Labor Senator Catryna Bilyk said last August when the tax was announced, prior to Labor conditionally supporting the legislation.

Controlled from Canberra, the ethos is a twist on the old aphorism, in that if isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The reverse is certainly true and emboldened by the public money pouring in, we should consider this measure to be the start, not the end.

After all, the window tax stood for another two hundred years before popular revolt tore it down.

 

 

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