This was a sleeping dog that Labor strategists let lie for far too long.
It has been a depressing election campaign: a stagnant morass of parochial pork-barrelling, tit-for-tat squabbling and mindless trivia.
It need not have been like this. Buried in the heap of dross there has been one really big idea, a defining issue, a gulf between the major parties, a potential game-breaker.
But it emerged only in the campaign's last weeks, too late for it to take the central position its importance demands. While the elephants of Kevin Rudd and Mark Latham lumbered around Labor's living room, getting in everyone's way and smashing the furniture, the sleeping dog of national broadband was lying quietly in a corner waiting to be noticed.
As a mere puppy it had been one of the team pulling Rudd's sled in 2007, although it had been overshadowed by the more glamorous pair of climate change and the education revolution; they and their opponent, the evil wolf of WorkChoices, took up most of the kennel space. Now, grown to Great Dane proportions, national broadband was ready to take over the leadership of the pack.
And it had all the qualifications: it truly was a dog for all seasons and all policies. For starters, there was no better symbol for Julia Gillard's slogan of going forward. Labor was offering a near-universal, state-of-the-art network to be installed by the government - indeed, the process was already under way.
Once it was in place, retail providers could bid for its delivery but there would be no corners to cut: the national benchmark would be set and it would be unalterable. The network would come at a cost, but the benefits would be almost incalculable. It would drag Australian communications from its present Tinkertoy level to world's best practice. This was moving forward at near light speed.
And the Coalition's response, when it was finally announced, was a cartoonishly elaborate arrangement of cobbled-together technologies, many of which were already considered out of date in more advanced countries - such as New Zealand.
Government would kick in as little as it could plausibly get away with. Private enterprise would be invited to pick up the pieces, and deliver them where and when they might hope to make a profit out of a system that was never going to be more than second-rate anyway.
Tony Abbott, possibly aware that this could not possibly be spun as Real Action, did not even attend the launch, which was probably just as well, as he later confessed himself to be ''not a tech head'' - in fact, when interrogated on the 7.30 Report, it became clear that he didn't have a clue what it was about.
But while the technical detail was a bit eye-glazing, the overall concept was mind-boggling, not least because it had applications across all the policy areas Gillard had been pushing.
Rudd had already talked up broadband's central role in the education revolution: its ability to link teachers and classrooms across the globe had literally boundless potential. And at her belated policy launch on Monday, Gillard made the link to the health system: with broadband, patients in remote areas could consult with the best specialists in the land from the surgery of their local GP.
It would also be invaluable in getting immediate advice in emergencies - Gillard used the example of the child who develops a midnight rash. But of course the implications went much further; instant access to specialist advice and up-to-date medical techniques would transform the lives of rural doctors.
And it wasn't just doctors. The benefits to business were obvious, but work practices across the board would undergo a quiet revolution. With a stroke of the keyboard, many of the disadvantages of regional and rural living would be abolished.
An unpleasant aspect of the campaign has been the misdirected population debate and its spill over into immigration and even refugee policy. But the real argument is about overcrowding in the cities and their suburbs.
Previous governments have found decentralisation too hard a policy to push: confirmed urbanites are reluctant to move to what they regard as the backblocks - broadband would make the transition more attractive.
And then there are the obvious political advantages for Labor: the network is a wonderful wedge to drive between the Liberals and their clunker of a policy on one hand, and the Nationals with their rural constituency demanding a fair go on the other. But by the time Labor's strategists got around to talking about it, the campaign was on its last legs and voters were almost past caring.
To resume the canine metaphor: it was the curious incident of the dog in the night time. The dog did nothing in the night time. But far from being curious, that was the story of this lamentable campaign.
Mungo MacCallum is a political journalist and commentator.