Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has issued a pointed response to Malcolm Turnbull’s demand for more transparency on the National Broadband Network project, claiming his shadow was only interested in delaying the flagship Labor initiative.
This afternoon Turnbull revealed he had garnered Coalition support for a private member’s bill that would force Labor to disclose key financial details of its flagship National Broadband Network project and conduct a cost/benefit analysis into its construction.
At least one aspect of the information that Turnbull is currently seeking is already being put together. NBN Co is known to be finalising the business plan for the next few years of its operations, for delivery to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy later this month. However, it remains unclear how much of the document will be released — with Conroy only committing to publish “elements” of the plan.
In his own statement, Conroy claimed the Liberal and National parties were only interested in delaying the NBN — not delivering what he said were “real reforms” for Australia. The Communications Minister added that detailed financial analysis about the NBN was already available in the Implementation Study published earlier this year.
“According to the Implementation Study, NBN Co will generate sufficient earnings by the end of year 7 so that the investment required by Government will peak at $26 billion, of which $18.3 billion will be required over the next four years,” Conroy said, adding that NBN Co’s deal with Telstra would cut the cost of deployment down further.
Conroy pointed out that Brisbane’s city council this week had revealed plans to build its own fibre network in the city ahead of the NBN rollout. The council is led by Lord Mayor Campbell Newman, who is a member of Queensland’s Liberal National Party.
“Across Australia people are crying out for affordable, high speed broadband … if the Federal Liberals and Nationals were serious about ensuring Australians had access to world class telecommunications infrastructure they would support the NBN rollout,” Conroy said.
“Australians have already had to wait 12 years for action while the former Howard Government did nothing to improve broadband services across the country, they don’t deserve to put up with further delays.”
The Liberal Party is currently somewhat divided in its opposition to the NBN plan, with the Tasmanian and Victorian branches pushing for the rollout to be utilised to its maximum in those states. However, in the Federal arena the Coalition has been staunchly against the NBN for some time — unveiling its own rival broadband plan during the Federal Election.
Image credit: Office of Stephen Conroy