Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has delivered a verbal double barrel shotgun blast in the direction of Tony Abbott, claiming the Opposition Leader has displayed a “woeful ignorance” regarding Labor’s vaunted National Broadband Network project.
Yesterday, Abbott again called for the NBN initiative to be scrapped, claiming Queensland residents suffering in the wake of the state’s catastrophic floods would rather have transport infrastructure rebuilt than the “interactive gambling” that he said the NBN would offer.
This afternoon, Conroy fired back.
“Tony Abbott’s repeated calls to scrap investment in the NBN – now shamefully using the devastating floods as his latest justification – demonstrate not only his inability to grasp basic economic principles, but a woeful ignorance of the productivity benefits that the NBN will create,” Conroy said in a statement.
“His inability to understand the difference between investment and spending is matched by his inability to offer any positive policies for Australia’s future.”
The Coalition has called for capital which Labor plans to invest in the NBN to be re-allocated to re-build infrastructure in flood-stricken areas of Queensland. However, the Federal Government instead plans to levy a flood tax on the Australian population, as well as drawing from other funds.
There has been no indication that the planned NBN rollout in Queensland will be negatively affected by the floods; with NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley stressing his company’s willingness to work with incumbent infrastructure owner Telstra to re-build and reconnect networks in the state.
This afternoon, Conroy said investing in infrastructure like the NBN was “exactly” what Australia needed to build a strong economy — the sort of economy which “would help communities affected by the floods rebuild and recover”.
“Mr Abbott is quite willing to rob Australia’s future in order to score a cheap – and tasteless – political point. The long term economic infrastructure we are creating in the NBN will repay Australians’ investment many times over,” Conroy said.
“Mr Abbott’s short-sightedness is a danger to Australia’s future prosperity and security. Imagine if politicians in the 19th and 20th centuries had stopped building crucial economic infrastructure every time there was a natural disaster. Luckily for Australia, our leaders of old had more vision than the current Leader of the Opposition.”