Scrap the NBN, says Abbott; Qld needs the money


Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has called for the National Broadband Network project to be scrapped and its capital funding allocated instead to the reconstruction effort in the wake of the disastrous floods in Queensland and the lesser ones in Victoria.

“It’s time for the Government to stop spending on unnecessary projects so that it can start spending on unavoidable projects such as the reconstruction that will be needed in Queensland and perhaps in Victoria as well,” Abbott told journalists in Sydney today. “It can start with the National Broadband Network.”

The Liberal leader described the NBN as “a luxury that Australia cannot now afford”. “The one thing you don’t do is re-do your bathroom when the roof has just been blown off and that’s the situation that we find ourselves in right now,” he said.

The capital investment required from the Federal Government to build the NBN was estimated in NBN Co’s business plan released in late December as $27.5 billion, but the last Federal Budget did not include significant funds devoted to the NBN, as some of the money was included in the Contingency Reserve — an allowance held principally to reflect anticipated future events which could not be detailed at that time.

NBN Co also expects ultimately to make a return on the Government’s investment in the NBN, meaning the money will be recouped in the long term.

When a journalist pointed out today to Abbott that the NBN funding was not included in the budget, Abbott did not directly answer the question, but flatly stated the NBN project would involve “some $50 billion plus of government spending”. “The point I make is that when you’ve got an absolutely urgent and unavoidable spending commitment, you don’t go ahead with unnecessary and avoidable spending commitments and that’s what the NBN is,” he said.

The Opposition Leader also took aim at what he described as a lack of transparency surrounding the NBN process. This week it was revealed that the Labor Federal Government did not believe NBN Co would be subject to freedom of information laws. Abbott said not only was the NBN “the most expensive government infrastructure project in Australia’s history” — but it was also “the most secretive”.

“Not only is there no cost-benefit analysis, not only is it being exempted from competition laws, not only is it being exempted from public works committee scrutiny, we learn today that it’s also being exempted from freedom of information laws. This really is a project that doesn’t stack up and it shouldn’t go ahead. It particularly shouldn’t be going ahead at a time like this,” he said.

Image credit: MystifyMe Concert Photography, Creative Commons


  1. I’d like to see money spent on levy systems to reduce the dangers of major flooding for future disasters. Plus I’d like to see money spent on capturing this water for future use.

    • As would I … but does it really have to be an ‘either one or the other’ case, when it comes to the NBN funds and Queensland’s reconstruction?

      • Funny how Abbot was against funding a recovery from a global wide financial disaster worth hundreds of billions and potentially destined a generation of Australians to poverty…

        Imagine what he’ll do when he hears about global climate change!!

      • No it shouldn’t be a either or situation, but it is all about what the priority should be in situations like this.

        It is interesting if you look at it from the proposed flood tax levy a basis though.

        Here’s a thought, how about we allocate NBN funding to urgent flood reconstruction and introduce a levy for the NBN build?

        Do you think there will be sudden massive population ‘rethink’ on the need for the luxury a national FTTH infrastructure build? – you betcha!

        • The problem is that the NBN is an asset designed to make a return, and the amount of money that can be “found” from canceling it is barely anything at all because the NBN is being issued as government bonds. Not only that, but reallocating funding designed to make a return to emergancy spending doesn’t make much ecnomic sense.

          Would you pull, say $20K out of a 10 year investment plan, to pay for a new car when you old one finally kicked the bucket? No, you, and so would most sensiable people, get a loan for the new car, unless of course the cost of a new car is such that you cannot manage the loan. I see no evidence that Australia cannot manage the loan for the “new car” to replace Queensland Infrastructure.

          • There is a big gap between describing an asset as being ‘designed to generate a return’ and the asset actually generating a return.

            Telstra and the Optus HFC rollout originally ‘designed to generate a return’ is the prime example.

          • Back to the HFC network again? Is this your one size fits all example against the NBN. I am sure someone explained to you… oh wait, apparently I did: …how the HFC “wars” is not an example of what is going to happen with the NBN, and why this is the case.

            The NBN, unlike the HFC networks, will generate a return because customers are being migrated onto the network. Which means that there is no revenue loss, as their was for the HFC “wars”, from customers going to competiting infrastructure, meaning that the asset will generate a return, unless there is some mass exodus from fixed line connections (which we would see warning signs for right now, such as a decline in the number of subscribers or data usage on fixed line connections, BOTH of which I might add are increasing. The former abliet it slower than mobile subscriptions, and in the latter the data usage on mobile networks is actually in decline).

  2. They should just do a complete NBN rollout in QLD as part of the rebuild. Help get their economy back on their feet – and avoid replacing damaged copper infrastructure.

    The cabling will provide a lot of jobs for their local economy.

  3. Every time that man opens his mouth and NBN rolls off his forked tongue I get so irrationally angry.

    I wish someone would do the RuddRoll thing to him and put bloody Turnbull back in place.

    • I think it likely that Turnbull will grab the ball before the next election. It doesn’t make sense for him to challenge now — let Abbott make all the mistakes over the next two years.

  4. Saw this coming a mile off, it still irks me through. Where is their alternative policy that actually address the issues that lead up to this becoming a political issue in the first place?

    Cause all I see is some half baked token policy under the name “Real Action” that spends a third of its press teleas explaining why Labor are doing it wrong.

    • Yeah, I could stand Abbott’s complaining on this issue if the Liberals actually had an alternative policy.= to back up their rhetoric. “Cancel it” doesn’t wash at this point.

  5. Abbott ‘kin’ wanker: “The one thing you don’t do” is turn a national tragedy into a political point scoring exercise. The bathroom at my place does not have much potential to generate jobs, revenue and social interaction etc etc (I have given it thought and it still runs at a deficit).

    This guys is an atomic wedgy up the backside of this country’s progress!

  6. My favourite quote is that Abbott suggests that the NBN is “a luxury that Australia cannot now afford”.


    You mean it WAS affordable BEFORE the floods Tony?

  7. I’m in one of the worst hit areas that was flooded for an extend period we’ve already rebuilt if you came here right now you would not know that anything has happened. He’s about 5 months to late & by the time the next election has rolled around we will all be well & truly ship shape again. Spending NBN money on QLD rebuilding at this stage when we’ve already done so much would be a colossal waste.

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