Malcolm Turnbull’s Facebook Q&A – the three key things you need to know

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday took part in a Facebook Q&A session while visiting the social network’s headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Turnbull, who is on a trip to the United States to meet with tech companies, doesn’t shy away from a fight, but it’s unlikely the minister expected the barrage of criticisms he would face over the Coalition’s NBN policy.

Facebook users fired questions at Turnbull focusing on the NBN, some suggesting he suffered from a “generational lack of understanding”, while others questioned him about his choice of jumper and presence in the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst.

Here are three things you need to know from the Communication Minister’s Q&A:

1. NBN                                                                                    

Turnbull was flooded by questions on the NBN, largely from those displeased with the Coalition’s proposal.

One Facebook user, Christopher Matthew Samaha, asked: “Why are you so near-sighted on the NBN scheme? Does this stem from your generational lack of understanding/inability to use IT to the capacity of everybody else?”

This question received 174 likes. How did Turnbull reply? “Ha! A low blow!”

To other NBN questions Turnbull provided more telling answers. When asked why the government won’t spend “a few billion more” and “future proof” the internet to provide for future technological advances, Turnbull responded by saying investing in technology which will last for 30 years is “naïve”.

“Better to invest in the tech that works now and in the foreseeable future, which means you can invest in better tech as time goes on. This is better financially, time, value for money, etc, and also gives the optionality you need in such a disruptive tech environment.”

2. Telecommuting

Thinking about working from home or on the go? Turnbull supports you in your endeavour. Facebook user Morgan Connors asked the minister what his thoughts were on the practice and how confident he was in the NBN’s ability to deliver a reliable service for teleworkers.

Turnbull said he promoted the practice: “We do promote teleworking actually, and I am confident more can and should be done by govt on the telecommuting front. I think many employers lack imagination to realise that they should measure their staff by their output not by how many hours they spend in the office.”

3. Does Australia need a Silicon Valley?

Revelations last week Atlassian is moving to the United Kingdom have renewed the debate around why Australian tech companies are moving offshore.

One Facebook user asked Turnbull if Australia entrepreneurs need to focus on creating an Aussie equivalent of Silicon Valley.

“I think they already are. However, I was very interested to meet with AngelList while here, there is a lot of potential for crowdfunding-type models for aggregating venture capital. We need to think laterally on this critical issue.”

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