Despite what Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says, Malcolm Turnbull is not the man who "virtually invented the internet in this country". Even if it was a joke, it's a bad one and it's wrong.
Mr Abbott made the comments in a speech to his parliamentary colleagues on Friday morning. He said he had a very "strong" front bench but that there was "one person who I particularly want to mention".
"We have a strong and credible broadband policy because the man who has devised it, the man who will implement it, virtually invented the internet in this country. Thank you so much Malcolm Turnbull," he said.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during a meeting with Coalition members in the party room at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
How very, very wrong. It's not always easy to figure out whether Mr Abbott is joking about something or not. Tech site ZDNet reported the news straight while others said he was joking. (You can watch the video in this article and decide for yourself as to whether Mr Abbott was joking.)
Mr Abbott's comments got a laugh from his colleagues, but geeks everywhere have gotten all worked up about it, just like when they got worked up about Mr Abbott's comments that he was "no Bill Gates" or a "tech head".
"Yes, Turnbull was one of the first Australian businesspeople to appreciate the commercial potential of the internet, and made a killing out of it. But he did not virtually invent anything," wrote blog larvatusprodeo.net.
One of these men helped bring the web to Australia. Can you guess which one? Photo: Andrew Meares/Supplied
"Tony Abbott should avoid further embarrassment by not opening his mouth ever again on anything related to telecommunications. He's had years to get it right, and he still has no clue."
"Let me clarify something for you, Mr Abbott: You might have been joking, but the joke wasn't funny. Malcolm Turnbull didn't invent squat in terms of the internet in Australia," wrote tech blog Delimiter.
"Maybe someone should stop Opposition Leader Tony Abbott from talking about internet from now until forever," wrote tech blog Gizmodo.
They're right to get worked up. If anyone can be credited with "inventing" - or for a better word "bringing" - the internet to Australia it is Geoff Huston and his colleagues. Mr Huston is one of the founders of the Australian Academic Research Network (AARNET), and now the chief scientist at the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC).
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