[smh] Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he's "no Bill Gates" and he proved it again last night in a "town hall" session at Rooty Hill RSL, causing some online ridicule.
The man who wants to be Australia's next prime minister had no idea there was a debate raging about creating an R18+ rating for video games and told the audience "for me broadband basically is about being able to send an email, receive an email".
Abbott's car analogy for broadband was turned on its head by one audience member to much laughter, but this was left out of the official transcript released by the Liberal Party.
Abbott justified his lack of knowledge on broadband yesterday, saying "just because you don't know exactly how every last detail of the motor car works doesn't mean that you can't drive it effectively".
He continued the car analogy at Rooty Hill RSL last night when asked by an audience member how he could guarantee his mishmash of technologies, including wireless, would be better than Labor's fibre-to-the-home plan.
"I might want a really fantastic car, but I've got to buy the car that I can afford, not necessarily the car that in a perfect world I would like," he said.
In a line left out of the official transcript distributed by his spokesman, Abbott was skewered by the audience member who turned the tables on his car metaphor.
"If your car is going to break down anyway, why not just spend the money [on a better solution]?" she said, to much laughter.
Abbott responded: "I know wireless, at the moment, is not as good as fibre optic cable ... but the wireless is getting so much better, I mean, I've upgraded my wireless modem a few times in the last couple of years and it's amazing how much quicker it is now than it was."
His continued opposition to the government's broadband plans met with some ridicule on Twitter.
"If Tony Abbott was PM 100 years ago we would have never built a telephone service across the country," Bonne Eggleston wrote.
On Tuesday night, Abbott struggled to explain the basics of his broadband policy, saying he was not a "tech head".
He was widely criticised after promising to junk the government's $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) without properly explaining why his $6 billion plan was better for the country's future.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard refused to be drawn into the fray last night, saying she did not intend to criticise Abbott for not knowing technical details about broadband.
"We need to build the National Broadband Network for the future. I will build it. He will not. That's the problem. Not whether he knows some technical details about it," she said.
Industry experts and small business groups have universally panned the Coalition's policy, saying it would not substantially improve today's broadband speeds and would lead to Australia falling further behind the rest of the world.
Today, NBN Co. announced that the NBN would be capable of speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, 10 times faster than first announced and significantly faster than the Coalition's promised minimum speed of 12 megabits per second.
The Opposition Leader was asked last night by TAFE student Vietus about whether he had any policies relating to an R18+ rating for video games, which at the moment does not exist, causing games that don't reach the MA15+ standard to be banned from sale.
"I didn't know there was a problem here ... what sort of stuff is available?" Abbott asked.
Vietus explained the disparity between film and video game classification, whereby the former category had an R18+ rating but games did not. He said adults should be able to choose what they want to play.
"Well look, if what happens with video games is not roughly analogous to what happens in other areas, that seems silly and there ought to be much the same kind of information available to consumers in respect of video games as there are in respect of other kinds of entertainment," Abbott said.
"So, instinctively, I'm with you and it's something that I'd be happy to look at were we in government."
The Greens are the only major party so far to offer a firm commitment to introducing an R18+ rating for games but, regardless, any changes to classification laws require the agreement of all state and federal attorneys-general.
The games issue was on the agenda for discussion at a Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting last month, but this was cancelled due to the federal election. It is now not expected to be considered until late this year.
Ron Curry, chief executive of the games industry body the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, said he was somewhat heartened by Abbott's comments but "you've got to look at that in context of (a) he didn't understand the issue and (b) we're on the campaign trail - and ultimately it's still got to through SCAG".
Cyber sphere's verdict: Abbott.com clueless