Abbott’s cuts are reckless, says Conroy


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has described Opposition Leader Tony Abbott as “reckless” and election promises to save millions by dropping a training fund for Telstra employees and other sections of NBN Co’s deal with Telstra as “senseless cuts”.

Yesterday the Coalition issued a PDF document with a list of budget savings measures. In it, it promised to slash $100 million planned for the establishment of a universal service obligation company — USO Co — to replace Telstra’s bush obligations as part of its deal with NBN Co. The Coalition has already promised to scrap the National Broadband Network Company if it takes office but has not yet released its alternative broadband policy.

“Tony Abbott’s cuts put Telstra shareholders at risk of losing a deal worth $11 billion to the company and regulatory certainty,” Conroy said in a statement yesterday. “These senseless cuts demonstrate the consequences of Tony Abbott’s reckless decision to shut down the National Broadband Network.”

Abbottt and the Liberal party will cut the Government’s e-Health project and funding for school laptops as well as the flagship NBN project. In a speech to the press club in May, Shadow Minister Joe Hockey had referred to the NBN as an “expensive white elephant”.

Conroy stated yesterday that the Coalition had no broadband plan of its own, and had failed to produce and implement its own national broadband scheme after being in power for over a decade. “The Coalition has no broadband plan today and in their 12 years in government they had 18 failed broadband plans,” he said.

The press release also reiterated Conroy’s belief that the NBN was “crucial to economic infrastructure” and that Australian businesses will not be able to compete with countries in Southeast Asia and Japan if the project does not go ahead.

Conroy wasn’t the only Labor Senator to go on the attack against the Coalition on broadband grounds yesterday.

Kate Lundy slammed fellow ACT Senator Gary Humphries (a member of the Liberal Party) for what she said was Humphries’ acknowledgement that the Coalition would abandon the pending early stage NBN fibre rollout in the broadband-starved region of Gungahlin in the ACT.

“The long suffering residents of Gungahlin have had to cope with some of the worst Internet services in the country,” she said. “Last week Liberal Senator Gary Humphries was trying to claim credit for the announcement that Gungahlin is one of the early rollout sites for the National Broadband Network on the mainland.”

“The Liberals policy to dump the NBN, without an alternate plan, and with a long legacy of failure in addressing the issue of delivering high speed and quality networks or even a competitive telecommunications industry presents a real issue for all Australians, as well as the 25,000 jobs that will be supported every year through the NBN rollout.”

Humphries had told ABC Radio in Canberra that the NBN was a “very large white elephant”, and that the Coalition would need to work through how locations like Gungahlin would be provided with broadband services — in the wake of the NBN being abolished — if the Coalition took government. He referred to previous broadband plans held by the Coalition when it was in government, noting he was sure they would have solved Gungahlin’s issues “in due course”.

Image credit: Office of Stephen Conroy


  1. My understanding is that the Tasmanian Libs have a ‘guarantee’ from the Fed Libs that Tas will be exempt from any national NBN rollback.
    To me, this sets off alarm bells and starts to raise a number of questions:
    1. Did they get it in writing?
    2. Has anyone seen the writing?
    3. Without significant additional infrastructure on the mainland, what will it do to the bottom line of TasNBN at startup?
    4. If Tasmania’s exempt, what process will the Fed Libs use to check if any other regional NBN plan should continue
    5. etc.
    ’bout time someone asked such questions.

      • From memory it basically runs like this. TasNBN is both Tas Lib and Tas ALP policy. During the recent state election, Will Hodgman, the leader of the Libs, stated that no matter what happens at a federal level, TasNBN will go ahead (iirc, this was stated at the ACS luncheon near the start of the campaign, and repeated at least once during the campaign). That’s to say, it won’t be interfered with federally – one presumes from this that the Federal support for TasNBN is not under a cloud.
        I wonder what @SenatorAbetz’s office may have to say about this, he’s fairly powerful in the party down here.

      • Which reminds me of the other question. Given TasNBN has relatively easy-access to pipes to the mainland (all four of them, iirc), the question of whether the ALP would test the filter on Tasmania’s connections first should be asked. And if not, why not? Surely it’s a sensible test bed given we’ll also first have NBN. How does Federal ALP tally up against apparent State ALP dislike of the policy? etc. etc.

  2. I find it amusing that the role of the opposition party is to purely oppose the Labour party, even if it doesn’t makes logical sense to do so. We have the chance to compete on a world scale, but we will do it 10 kb/s at a time over dial up, if the opposition gets elected. Gee I hope our aging and limited copper network holds up my dial up session.

    Libs, get your head out of the sand and get our national network up to speed. If you don’t support it, you will never get back into power, not that I really care anyway, but don’t get in the way of our future.

    Another alternative is to take 10% of the Ex-PM’s super fund to pay for it, $600K/year/PM for life, it will soon add up to be our NBN roll out cost. How many ex-PM’s are we still paying for? Do you think that they have broadband at home? Maybe we should speed limit the entire Liberal partys network speed, that may change things, but then again, the pace that they move, dial up could still be sufficent for them.

  3. “Abbott’s cuts are reckless says Conroy”,
    “Abbott’s abs are relentless Hockey”

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