Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has labelled the summary of NBN Co’s business plan released today as being “thoroughly inadequate” and lacking in financial detail.
“Beyond a few scraps of information and other warm words, this is a thoroughly inadequate document,” the former Liberal leader wrote on his blog this afternoon, following the document’s release. The 36 page plan is available online in PDF format.
Turnbull said the plan did not include any financial statements at all, lacking a profit and loss or cashflow statement or balance sheet.
“It is a sop thrown to the independent Senators in the hope that they will give the Government their vote,” he said. “Real accountability, real transparency requires a thorough and complete business case, not 36 pages of reassurance devoid of financial detail.”
“If you went along with a document as breezy as this to a bank, with fifty grand to upgrade your café, you’d be chucked out,” Turnbull added this afternoon, speaking with 4BC radio station in Brisbane.
He acknowledged, however, that it contained “a few numbers”. For example, the capital expenditure required to build the NBN will be reduced from to $35.7 billion as a result of NBN Co’s deal with Telstra for access to its infrastructure, which Turnbull claimed put a total price on the NBN of $49.5 billion, when the $13.8 billion deal with Telstra was taken into account.
Overall Turnbull’s point with respect to the business plan is that no matter what it states, it wouldn’t in any case be able to answer the question of whether the NBN was the most cost-effective means of realising the objective of universal and affordable broadband, with the Shadow Communications Minister continuing to push for a Productivity Commission inquiry into the matter.
One question now will be whether independent Senator Nick Xenophon will support the Government’s contentious telecommunications reform legislation which is currently before the Senate. The release of the NBN Co business plan summary has been seen as an attempt by the Government to placate Xenophon’s concerns about a lack of transparency.
“Well, he hasn’t actually said that but that is obviously what the Government assumes, and I think that’s what most people assume,” Turnbull told 4BC in relation to whether Xenophon had done a deal for his vote.
“But really, Nick Xenophon made a big issue out of standing up for accountability and transparency and if this is all he’s got for it, frankly it’s not very much.”
Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull