Stop delaying the NBN, Conroy tells Turnbull


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


  1. this government will never learn. speed and haste equals waste. just look at schools project, pink batts fiasco. why is conroy so hellbent on wasting money without having a little look to see if it is money well spent and ensure non is wasted.

  2. Hey I live in Brisbane, I am getting fibre no matter how much the federal liberals cry like little school girls.

    Airtime, are you seriously complaining about waste? Have a look at our annual welfare bill and you will find true waste.

    • my point exactly. if there is a business case for it business will undertake the investment. danger now is this inept government will simply tie the next generation to a white elephant which is syphoning money away from areas which are government responsibility namely health, education etc.

      gillard/swans budget has been blown to bits with the rise in the dollar, miners profits will go down as resources are sold in usd, tourism will take a hit as will overseas student influx.

      put simply the country under gillard is significantly worse than it has been under any government in my memory.

      i am even luckier than you though b of brisbane. i live in perth, the only state doing well, the only state not to cowtow to the gillard demands and the only state with money. surprise surprise its a liberal governement !

      • siphoning money away from Health etc? i call BS, airtime. the placeholder 43bn figure is 1/4 of ONE years health and welfare spend. that cost is spread over 8 years. and we know that with the fruition of the HoA between NBNco and Telstra the cost will come down further. that isnt going to break the bank mate, you are making a mountain of a molehill.

        Dont forget both sides of politics expect to be in the black in 2012-13 – so 6 of those NBN build years will be years in surplus. an expected average spend of 3.5 bn a year – mostly from surplus budgets, really isnt much from a total yearly Government budget with north of 320bn revenue a year and increasing ( i dont have an issue with that.

        as for the haste, discussions over a fibre rollout in some FTTx form have been on since at least 2000. i cant at all say there has been a rush into upgrading the fixed-line network in that timeperiod to now.

        spruiking a vivid connect is useless to me – does it even offer services in brisbane? no, it doesnt. and ive been using wireless as my primary connect for a few years now. what i DO have available, is insultingly low on data caps, nowhere near as fast and im ready to ditch it despite the benefit of being able to move and not be tied up with connection downtime or install costs. (hint: im on one of the 3g optus sold ports that headed rapidly south with wifi congestion – can you guarantee that wont happen with Vivid? )

        imean, really. a guaranteed 25mbps (instead of the best effort DSL speeds over my copper line distance, most likely sub 5mbit at the 2-3km mark away from exchange, and worse on wireless) at the *lowest* tier of NBN services for less than i pay for the wireless now, going by internodes plans, my vendor of choice. by no means is it a perfect rollout, but in my books that craps all over the alternatives. How much /month do you pay for that vivid plan BTW? and what data cap do you get given? what do you get with vivid for the same p/m cost of the lowest internode NBN plan?

        All that said I do like a couple of Malcolms suggestions but i really dont see this bill going far, and agree it seems more likely for delaying and neutering than any good faith ‘lets nut out the details’ work – would love nothing more than to be proven wrong on that impression.

        I admit the Labor govt of the last administration was no shining angel. but despite preferring Liberal policies i have no qualms about calling the latter years of the Howard govt the worst i have experienced. IMO things have improved since then. and besides that Gillard is barely PM for 1/4 of a year – i think its a little premature to call it the worst administration, seen on such a short form.

        • you really miss the point. wasting money is wasting money, no matter how much. to think the government needs to build high speed internet in cities is a rediculous proposition. if anything the government doing so, and creating a virtual monoply by threatening price regulation flies in the face of everything australia has built up in the past 40 years by government de-investing itself in private enterprise.

          your point with regards vivid not being available in brisbane is valid, but again all you have done is negatively impact the business case for any company to invest in wireless infrastructure by spruiking the nbn.

          now if the nbn had of been properly costed, and a serious business case prepared then we wouldnt be having this debate.

          it would either stack up or it wouldnt and would then not proceed.

          problem is this government has a a history of not doing any cost/benefit analasys, nor are they very clever.

          on the one hand they are investing taxpayers money to increase internet speed, and then applying a government controlled filter to slow it down.

          i travel the world for work and i can tell you now that adsl2 + broadband in australia is as fast as, if not faster, than most other places i travel to.

          the real limiter in this country is the fibre connections between aus and other countries, so no matter how fast you get intra aus internet going it is still limited for overseas content, which account for the vast majority of australias internet needs.

          now if they were proposing to increase the speed of these links i could see an argument for the investment as this would allow domestic providers an opportunity to bear the burden of the local rollout.

          • last to first – you do realise the physical capacity of the current international links is actually well suited to the NBN upgrade already. come cable pairs are unlit, others are only using a few of the wavelengths available to pass over that fibre. so i disagree international links have a bearing as much as you argue it does,

            on the wireless, hasnt Can Do ‘stuffed’ the case for wireless in brisbane with his ‘free’ FTTSP anyway? (fibre to the shite pipe). i think you will find there wont be any slowdown in the wireless market excepting those in BB blackspots ditching theirs for a landline at last. tis a funny thing but the wireless market is a lot more competitive than fixed line, and despite its faults for the users does make a buck for the networks…. and unlike the fixed market they roll it back into expansion or upgrades. i dont see any slackening of the love affair with wireless. i will certainly ditch my current product for the NBN but i will get a wireless product to complement it for on the go stuff. there are still plenty of reasons to use those products in an NBN world.

            and lastly no i havent missed the point – it simply is not wasted money. i see many reasons why there *should* be concern and costs watched and reined in where necessary. but in the big picture of things, in the big picture of governmental costs and drains on budgets this is really a minor item. If you really want to chase up waste go after welfare like an earlier commentator suggested.

            Go after waste in the hospitals, in Defence (large chunks of it there), in roads…. if the NBN really does turn out ‘a waste’ it is going to be of the minor order. you may see it as a massive gamble with govt money but i simply cannot agree with that – it is a reasonable stake cost for what is returned; and the money certainly is not wasted if it is returned to the govt at 6% – things have come to a pretty pass if we call a positive return on a relatively minor governmental investment ‘a waste’. money sunk in roads and Defence certainly dont come back with a percentage return! are they a waste too?

    • “Have a look at our annual welfare bill and you will find true waste.”

      So giving people money they need for food and shelter is a waste ?

      I think giving people survival money is the furtherest thing from waste you can get.

      But you probably cant read this post your so high up in your ivory tower.

      • no id say more the govt management of programs for said food and shelter programs. duplications, mismanagement and the like – Food and shelter programs are absolutely a legitimate part of governmental welfare, and i would not ask they be wound back. but the administration thereof – thats another thing to me.

  3. “speed and haste equals waste.”

    The FTTH NBN was announced back in April 2009. It wasn’t until roughly 1 year later that the NBN was finally being constructed and rolled out, starting with the rollout in Tasmania. You call that “speed and haste”?

    I agree with you on the pink batts fiasco. IMO the reason why it was a failure was because it was rushed and poorly planned. But I definitely wouldn’t say the same thing for the NBN: they’ve been working on the NBN since 2007.

  4. what economic planning has gone into the NBN ? why should people all over the country pay the same price for high speed internet. i choose to live in the city, i pay higher tolls, and i pay higher rates. when my rates are assessed the same value as in the country they can have internet at the same price i want it. simple fact is all that the nbn will do is raise the price of internet in the cities to subsidise the country users.

    next fact is it wont work. people are using fixed services at an increasing declining rate. my phone, ipad, and other wireless equipment means fixed broadband is last generation.

    i would rather wireles delivering 20 or 30 mbps than fixed at 100 any day of the week.

    i already have wireless delivering 20 mbps anyhow with vivid’s new 4G network

    • Show me proof of you actually obtaining 20Mbps, or even 5Mbps on a regular basis.
      The issue is Wireless can’t deliver ’20 or 30 mbps’

      Fixed line is not declining, it is rising:

      What is declining is the amount of data downloaded over wireless despite extra customer growth, whilst fixed is increasing, this certainly says something about it’s capacity to deliver!
      close up on wireless:

    • Fix Wireless Broadband Is Not Answer , Wireless has LOTS PROBLEMS.
      Network ,Lib Want to Build is Fix Wireless, My Friends run Wide Area network, they said You need to Build Tower every 2 km

    • airtime: You realise that without a fibre backbone, wireless is useless right? You realise that when the NBN comes into play, companies will be able to offer cheap, faster (NBN Speed) wireless coverage using Access points and clouds over cities and suburbs?

      3G/4G will eventually be only for regional areas due to WiFi taking over. Having a WiFi cloud over each city, will allow people on mobile devices, to connect (using WLAN cards in phones/devices today) at 100Mbps+, wirelessly, be able to have their phone calls, sms, emails all travel wirelessly at those speeds, at a MARGIN of the power requirements towers use. At a MARGIN of the cost for data. All because of the NBN.

      The NBN will make wireless incredible and ridiculously cheap. People already have VoIP home phones and Naked lines at home. My iPhone turns into a VoIP phone when im at home and connected to my WLAN. That WLAN will eventually be covereing the whole (cities) of Australia

  5. You would have thought Labor has learnt its lesson with batts and schools. But no lets rush in while we still hold the credit card of the Australian people. I guess most labor pollies flunked school and dont really understand basic maths so they dont want or have anyone else do the sums on the NBN for us all to see

  6. What a double standard – conroy is pushing for decentralised market power and has been after Telstra on its “monopoly” position and yet states , the legislation aims to reduce overbuilding of fibre networks that compete with the NBN.

    HMM – does this mean the government is going to drive up prices and stop competition so they can pay back their 44b mistake..

    Down with anti competitive activity driven by market investment – welcome to gov driven anti competitive controll

  7. Where’s the fully transparent NBN business case to qualify blowing away $43bn of taxpayers monies? What is Conroy scared of?

    • The NBN business case is due at the end of the month…

      Don’t bother reading it though, I’m sure Tony will tell you what to think.

      Anti-NBN comments are always so hilarious… I’m starting to think there’s a ring of Aussie comedians trolling us all.

      “…people are using fixed services at an increasing declining rate. my phone, ipad, and other wireless equipment means fixed broadband is last generation.”

      “problem is this government has a a history of not doing any cost/benefit analasys, nor are they very clever.”

      “I guess most labor pollies flunked school and dont really understand basic maths so they dont want or have anyone else do the sums on the NBN for us all to see”

      Pure gold.

      Also, Does this count as proof that alternate realities exist?

  8. Airtime
    NBN not Waste of Money,Australia internet is Slowest in developed World
    We are At Limit of Old Copper Network, government plan to build FttP network will being Australia up to Date with other developed Nation
    I live In Adelaide
    30% of Adelaide Cant get Broadband via Copper network or HFC Network
    im in 30% who can not get Broadband
    i want NBN

      • Working as a Network Administrator in a K-12 school, I can barely begin to describe the services & level of education I will be able to provide to kids with a fiber connection. For example, we are already starting to work on distance ed online classrooms with 5 other schools in the area. This means, you will be able to send your kid to a school in the middle of the bush (this only works if the NBN is up and running!) and have him/her study literally any subject via distance ed. Again this is just a tiny fraction of the potentiality of what I can get out of the NBN. Also it’s great to finally see some people dispelling all the mis-info and NBN-haters on these news article comments. Keep optimism alive!

  9. Airtime, you are such a narrow minded and selfish person. Just because you can get good connectiion doesn’t mean that everyone else is. Your comment about fix line connection being a last generation proves that your knowledge is very limited in the field of technology.

    Firstly, 4G specs is not yet finalised. You said you are using 4G proves that you will listen to anything anyone tells you. Don’t worry, Turnbull will tell you what to think once the business case for the NBN is released. You constantly getting 20Mbps to 30Mbps on your wireless? Seriously????????? I think you meant 20kbps to 30kbps. I too, have used wireless and knows that it will NEVER surpass fixed line connection in terms of reliability and speed. I get a lot of network congestions on my wireless. Do you know why? Because wireless is a shared medium. If you are the only user on the cell, you get your full speed of the said 20Mbps. As soo as another user logs on, you get 10Mbps, and another 2 users log on, you each get 5Mbps and so on. I only used wireless when i’m out and about, but i used fix line connection at home along with my wireless router.

    As for a cost benefit analysis your friend Turnbull’s been FUDing around. The NBN’s benefit will be realise in years to come as the network is not built yet. Can you even think that we have the internet decades ago when the copper was built? The internet which you are now using to post your ill informed comments. Can you honestly tell me what you will be doing in 50 years time? The benefit of the NBN is unknown but we know it’s there. Just like the public hospital, you don’t need a CBA to build it, you know it will benefit to public. I can imagine you saying that you don’t need electricity because oil lamp and candle’s enough. I can imagine you saying that your computer with 640KB of memory will last you into the 25th century. I can imaging you saying that your horse and cart will last you a life time.

    The NBN is not about fast speed for downloading porn and watching HD movies, it’s about communications. Once it is built, there will be more amazing applications to follow to take advantage of it’s capability just like the internet now. The internet is more and more interactive everyday and it needs to have adequate bandwith to do so. Future applications will demand more bandwith which the copper network can not supply as it has reached its limit. Time to replace it with fibre. If you want a cost benefit go here:

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