Turnbull slams “insulting” NBN delays, blowouts


news Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday claimed the new corporate plan released by NBN Co this week showed the project was falling “disastrously” behind its benchmarks on both financial and infrastructure rollout measures, in a trend which he described as being “insulting” to the nation’s taxpayers.

Yesterday the Federal Government released a new corporate plan for NBN Co covering the years from 2013 through 2015. The plan shows that the project as a whole had increased its projected capital investment cost by 3.9 percent overall to make a total of $37.4 billion, with the total construction time for the infrastructure having been extended by six months as delays associated with factors such as NBN Co’s contract with Telstra set in.

The Government said these factors were offset by the fact that the total capital cost for the NBN was “significantly less” than the $43 billion originally announced by the Government in April 2009, and the delay was less than the nine-month delay expected to have been caused by the lengthy negotiations around the $11 billion deal NBN Co has signed with Telstra to transfer its customers onto the NBN infrastructure and gain access to Telstra’s infrastructure.

The corporate plan also highlights the fact that NBN Co is on track to meet its goal of having commenced or completed construction of its fibre network to some 758,000 premises nationally by the end of December this year, and maintains the NBN’s projected internal rate of return on its investment of being slightly above 7 percent per annum, as revenues are also planned to rise along with the capital expenditure. In addition, the plan highlights the fact that the NBN project has hit a number of key targets over the past few years, such as finalising the Telstra deal and a similar one with Optus and executing construction contracts for every state and territory in Australia and across all of the network technologies planned to be used in the NBN.

However, Turnbull said the NBN project was “falling disastrously behind every benchmark the Government has set for it except one — the amount of taxpayers’ money being spent”. “Senator Conroy today released a revised NBN 2012 Corporate Plan showing costs are higher and NBN Co needs more investment from the Commonwealth than previously stated – yet the NBN fibre network is now projected to reach only one in four of the 1.3 million households the previous 2010 Corporate Plan estimated would be able to connect to the network by mid-2013,” said Turnbull in a statement yesterday available online, in which he also included the table below to demonstrate what he said were the blowouts.

“Labor’s original plan for the NBN in 2007 promised only $4.7 billion of taxpayers’ funds would be needed to finish it. Today’s forecasts show the operating and capital costs of the NBN from now to 2021 have blown out by $4.6 billion in the past two years alone. Even more insulting to taxpayers is the forecast that while NBN Co is yet to meet a single one of its targets, the budget for ‘indirect’ operating expenses – primarily staff costs – has more than doubled, from $3.7 billion to $7.8 billion.”

“NBN Co may not be able to put together a budget or roll out a network, but it knows how to take care of itself.”

Turnbull said since the NBN connected its first customer onto its network in June 2010, the project had been connecting customers to its fibre network at an average rate of about six per day. But to meet its targets, this rate would have to increase by more than one thousand fold to around 6,000 per day by 2016, he said. “Senator Conroy admitted that the original 2010 Corporate Plan should no longer be taken seriously – due to policies imposed on the NBN and decisions taken by the NBN,” said Turnbull. “And yet, we are to believe that if re-elected, Labor’s project will perform even better than originally thought.”

“It’s time Senator Conroy had a serious conversation with the Australian public and admitted that houses needing broadband upgrades the most have not been prioritised. The NBN needs to be directed to be given a definitive budget that it must stick to. And the Productivity Commission should be asked to conduct a thorough cost benefit analysis to assess the most efficient means of upgrading Australians’ broadband as quickly as possible.”

Turnbull’s statement is a flawless exercise in selective examination of NBN Co’s corporate plan. While it’s hard to dispute any of the individual statements which the Liberal MP has made as being factually incorrect, in total they appear to present an extremely misleading view of the NBN.

Take Turnbull’s linkage of the $4.7 billion allocated for Labor’s original NBN plan back in 2007. This proposal — which would have seen fibre rolled out only to neighbourhood cabinets, instead of all the way to premises — was cancelled by Labor and replaced with the much more ambitious current NBN plan, then budgeted at $43 billion. Why? Because the panel of experts who appraised private sector bids to be involved in that project found that there was no suitable bid, and that the FTTN project should not go ahead. For Turnbull to link that project with the current NBN project but not mention this is disingenuous.

Secondly, Turnbull has implied that NBN Co has doubled the amount of money it’s spending on its staff costs, and he’s walking a fine line here where he almost accuses NBN Co of nepotism in paying its staff too much.

To my mind, this is entirely inappropriate, and it’s hard to see how the Shadow Communications Minister can possibly justify this kind of claim. I am even finding it hard to find in the NBN corporate plan where the $7.8 billion figure has been drawn from. The closest I can see is on page 77 of the report, where NBN Co provides a breakdown of operating expenditure over the decades the project will be active. There isn’t a total sum for indirect costs, but there is an “other” row which we can take to be indirect costs. If you tally it up it comes out higher than $7.8 billion.

However, this is a highly detailed page, and if this is where Turnbull has drawn his indirect costs figure from, then I would say he has not provided a sufficient level of detail to make his claim that NBN Co is spending too much on its staff. What would be the right amount to spend on staff for a national broadband network? Does Turnbull have an opinion? Because this is a very complex question, and not one easily answered in a throwaway line in a press release, based on a high-level figure from a complex business plan.

Turnbull is also correct that NBN Co’s rate of customer sign-up has not been very fast. But that’s pretty much to be expected — we’re talking about a decade-long project here, in which it takes years to bed down infrastructure. The complexity of the task involved should be illustrated by the fact that it appears to have taken the best part of several years just to finalise NBN Co’s negotiations with Telstra over the shutdown of the company’s existing fixed infrastructure and the transferral of its customers onto the NBN.

With the rollout of the NBN, we’re talking about nothing less than the reformation of Australia’s entire telecommunications sector. The planning for this project has been immense, and to boil it all down to a headline figure of how many customers have been connected — especially just months before the NBN starts connecting a quarter of a million customers to its fibre network — is disingenuous. In a year’s time, the NBN’s fibre will have been rolled out past hundreds of thousands of customer premises, with a million more on the way over the succeeding year.

Turnbull mocks NBN Co’s rate of network deployment, and points out that the company will need to increase its rollout speeds to pass some 6,000 premises per day to meet its goals. But he doesn’t acknowledge that this is actually precisely what NBN Co is planning for — in fact, during peak years, it will come close to hitting 7,000 premises per day.

As with any gargantuan, nation-wide exercise involving billions of dollars and tens of thousands of people, the NBN is a complex project which has been slow to start — and there is some valid criticism to be made that the Government didn’t plan as well as it could have to begin with. However, Turnbull has completely ignored the fact that all of that planning has now been done and the NBN is now in full ramp-up phase. The rollout is happening now, and the corporate plan shows that.

If Turnbull were an honourable politician, he would acknowledge the strengths and successes of the NBN project, as well as criticising its weaknesses and failures. But in his statement yesterday, he did not. He simply nitpicked tiny tidbits of the NBN’s new corporate plan for criticism without addressing the overall situation. Frankly, I consider this kind of behaviour below the Member for Wentworth, and I have to acknowledge I am disappointed to see an intellectual of his stature stoop to such a level. Why isn’t Turnbull looking at the big picture here, instead of tiny details which don’t tell the whole story?

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. Personally, I slam Turnbull’s delay in telling us how much his FTTN plan will cost, and how much a later upgrade to FTTH will cost.

    You can’t compare the potential results of his plan with the potential results of the current plan, because they deliver a completely different outcome.

    If the total cost of FTTN + FTTH later is NOT less than FTTH now, his plan is NOT cheaper, and NOT superior in any way. At best it is disingenuous, at worst it is either a lie, or a deliberately misleading omission.

    He is comparing apples with oranges, and resists all attempts to seek any costing information for his plan from him, delivering only complete silence on the matter when asked repeatedly.

    It is hypocritical to demand detailed pricing structures from NBN, and then criticise them, while refusing to provide even rough ball park figures for his proposal.

    It is utterly deceitful and disrespectful to the Australian people. His plan removes the city/country cross subsidies, and will INCREASE costs to people in the bush.

    The problem is, the media soak up the bullshit, and his version of events gets all the air time.

  2. Frankly, I consider this kind of behaviour below the Member for Wentworth

    well as he has consistently shown over the past few years, this kind of behaviour is actually more his style.

    • +100
      I am just starting to ignore what he says until he actually puts a detailed plan, including all costs, up for scrutiny.

      • I’ll have to +200 That. I feel like Turnbull has been given every chance to be honest and forthcoming and represent the facts about the NBN, but its crystal clear that the man is now deliberately misleading the public in every way possible and apart from his vague “technology agnostic” and FTTN statements, he has still not provided any concrete details of a realistic Coalition alternative that will ensure fast affordable next generation broadband to all Australians.

        I therefore choose to ignore Turnbull whenever possible from now on. Even as a Labor supporter, I used to have a lot of respect for him (particularly given his previously progressive views on climate change and Australia becoming a Republic). Now days, he’s just Tony’s smug, intellectual, propaganda shouting, sidekick, toeing the “fiscal responsibility” line.

    • I really wish this wasnt true. We all know he’s capable of being a really inspiring politician but appears to be behaving like an Abbott Sock Puppet.

    • While we are talking “delay”, where are Malcolm’s answers to the questions Renai and Delimiter readers asked him about FTTN vs FTTH and his office agreed he would answer?

  3. Honestly, the worst part about this entire situation is that the coalition aren’t going to need to present any solid plan, policy or costing forecast before the election because Labor are unfortunately going to be obliterated in said election regardless of what Turnbull does or doesn’t release before then.
    If Turnbull is trying to get anyone to believe that he can roll out an NBN-ish plan of that size on-time, on-budget and in-scope without any setbacks what so ever, he is having a laugh.

    • @Simon

      That’s the one. They don’t need OR want a plan. They are trying to neutralise the NBN as a political football and go to the election with no detailed plan. I’ve been saying this from the start.

  4. One of my biggest worries is that by the time the election comes around, pretty much every hurdle put in front of Labor and their FTTH plan will have been solved, and it will simply be down to the rollout, and relatively minor side issues.

    The issues with Telstra, satellites, etc etc that have caused the delays have been sorted. Yet the Liberals, in their “no progress is good progress” mentality want to throw all that hard work aside and start again.

    Its like buying up all the land to build a freeway, then an incoming party deciding they want to build the freeway 50m to the left (with only half the lanes), and having to go back to the start and rebuy a whole bunch of new land.

    • GongGav – you know, that (deciding to build a different freeway) is almost exactly what the Liberal/National coalition did in Qld when they were elected in 1998. They only lasted one term, after spending nearly a $billion on a road upgrade that serviced the premier’s electorate, and another $250million buying out a toll on a road in the deputy premier’s electorate…

      Unless the Luddites win the day in the LNP (which is, sadly, all too possible), I think it’s actually more likely that they’ll let the rollout continue (maybe with some cosmetic tweaks), then claim that it was their hard work that resulted in the ongoing success – “Hey, look, NBNco only rolled out to 300,000 customers under Labor, and in our first term we’ve already rolled it out to 1.5million…” – that sort of thing.

      • @Bern

        I want, SO MUCH, to hope you are right….but with TA at the head….I seriously doubt that. He’ll slash and burn the budget. He has NO idea how to run an economy and Hockey is not much better IMO.

        • oh gods. just look at Campbell Newman, they are the same deal but worse. there have been razor gangs before but wow these guys are some of the meanest with the knife ive seen…. thats how they thank those who voted them in. the old scorpion and the frog story again … its just in their nature.

          thing is there was an anti anna wave in Q and now – look at the buyers remorse; an election too early would just be an anti Julia slaughter with a very high likelihood of the same sort of outcome. it would be handing the other blokes power for simply being the other blokes, and no thought at all for what might be done once they are in – we’re just sick of the bitch! thats my biggest fear.

          two things would be acceptable outcomes to me – that theres a spill in the Lib room and MT comes up trumps, and trims the sillier bits of Coalition policy (there does appear to be some variation between TA and MT) while keeping the primacy of the NBN. they should leave it as is but look for cost inefficiencies – i think trimming POIs by half or so is an easy give there. it will incur a little more cost to NBNco again for retweaking the maps…. but unless clearly articulated why its a good reason to have more POI sites i cant see why it would be more expensive – the original 14 POI model was supposed to be the cheapest. that would be a valid line to follow for the coalition.

          thats not likely to happen at all – they are more likely to stick with ‘No, ad infinitum’, so the other outcome is that NBNco continues unmolested by whatever means, whether that means Krudd comes back or someone else shivs julia the way she did him. the likelihood of a next election won by Labor with the faces it currently has is buckleys and none. finding the right face is really the problem there… it is definitely in Labors best interests to hold it off for as long as as they can possibly manage.

          the alternatives are pretty grim.

  5. Despite being a Labor voter I have had a lot of respect for Turnbull for a long time right back to his work for the Republican movement in the early 90s. But these sorts of predictable stunts with regards to the NBN are quickly burning that away.

    I suspect he may be a better Comms minister (if Abbott doesn’t reshuffle him straight after gaining power) than he is a Comms shadow minister, when the onus is on him building his case rather than destroying the governments. Does anyone know if he has committed to a cost-benefits analysis to objectively compare his FTTN plan to the current NBN plan, being that he has called for one so often regarding the NBN?

      • Its pretty easy! Here’s one Malcolm whipped up.
        Not 30 billion dollars.
        30+billion dollars.


        CBA Conclusion: The coalitions is better because it costs less.

    • Why will Turnbull be a better minister than shadow minister? Won’t he have to recant (resile from, something John Howard never did) his consistent approach so far?

      • Because I don’t think his political skills are suited to being a negative politician, the Utegate affair showed that. He has the business savvy and technical knowledge to be able to put forward a good case I think. However I agree that his previous stances could be an issue for him.

    • “I suspect he may be a better Comms minister (if Abbott doesn’t reshuffle him straight after gaining power) than he is a Comms shadow minister, when the onus is on him building his case rather than destroying the governments.”

      I agree. I do suspect at times that he will be made Finance Minister, not Comms Minister, however. Comms has traditionally been a more junior portfolio — and Turnbull is amongst the most qualified to take control of Finance.

  6. “Why isn’t Turnbull looking at the big picture here, instead of tiny details which don’t tell the whole story?”
    Because if he did that he’d single-handedly get Labor re-elected.

  7. I’d be interested in everyone’s thoughts on what the federal LNP will do to the NBN once they get in (highly likely on current polls). Is there enough time b/w now and the next federal election for the NBN charter/goals to be well underway in their rollout and not scaled back ? I guess all of the contracts b/w the NBN and Telstra, Optus …. industry will make it harder too.


    • I think you’ll find that up until the election, they’ll ramble like they are now – attempting to fault whatever they can find.

      Once elected, they wont repeal the Mining Tax, they will ‘attempt’ to repeal the Carbon Tax (if anything it wouldnt be repealed just adjusted) and they wont cancel the NBN OR change the plan. The amount of money alone they’d have to find elsewhere JUST to repeal the Mining tax is immense.

      I think you’ll find they will do just as the NSW / VIC / QLD LNP Governments are doing now – a fat load of sweet FA.

      Pigs will fly first.

      • I think you’ll find the QLD LNP government isn’t doing a fat load of sweet nothing. It’s laying off workers left right and centre and reducing services as much as possible. Now THAT’S progress.

        • @FlipFlop

          And this is PRECISELY what I expect of a TA lead Coalition government.

          I think they’ll slash. Everything they can. Including the NBN. For the sake of “budgetary measures”….

        • Conservative Governments are the downfall of progressive society.

          If you want jobs, you dont cut them.

          If you want growth, you dont cut out big projects or key reforms.

          If you want to have a better standard of living, you dont give the money to private enterprise.

          • “Conservative Governments are the downfall of progressive society.

            If you want to have a better standard of living, you dont give the money to private enterprise”

            Conservative Goverments want to give money to Private Enterprise as the owners/ shareholders of these larger organisations is whose standard of living they generally wish to improve

    • I seriously believe that whatever the “policy” the LNP takes to the next election, it will be scrapped within – what, a month? The old excuses that ‘we can’t afford it’ and ‘we’ve been left a huge hole in the budget’ will be trotted out like a set of tired 10 year old Christmas decorations. The bits of the NBN that are in place will be sold to the ‘highest bidder’ – who will of course be Telstra. Underhand and shady deals will make sure of that. Telstra and the Coalition will ‘promise’ the Australian public that ‘it is committed to providing a national network equivalent to that the Government would have built but at no – or minimal – cost to the public purse’. Since “the Government” will then be a Coalition one, and their network plans will have been suitably vague, we won’t be able to argue. Telstra will cherry pick the most profitable bits – possibly roll out some more ‘top-hat’ updates; show that speeds have increased a few kb/s and suddenly determine that it’s all too hard (i.e unprofitable) to do anything in the bush. Those on the (original) NBN fibre will see their prices go through the roof due to lack of competition, and the use of cabinets will ensure that Telstra can obfuscate and delay the installation of competitor equipment for such FTTN rollout they might halfheartedly do.

      And Turnbull will be invited to sit on the Telstra board as he picks up his fat pollie pension and disappears into the sunset……and we will be left to pick up the pieces.

  8. I suspect that if Abbott wasn’t in the picture for Turnbull he would embrace the Labours NBN as the way to to things, though of course add a liberal tweak here or there but other wise the same.
    Every time you see Turnbull speak on the NBN it seems like talking through gritted teeth especially in the early days of shadow com minister. Now days he seams to be more comfortable as he has found a fine line that he can follow that keeps abbot happy and still keeps him some creditability from not out right lying.

    • Nope, liberal mindset is subsidise and privatise.

      At best, he would pay 30 billion dollars to Telstra, and have them build an NBN.

  9. Taxpayer funds being taxpayer secured funds, that will be paid off by the NBN not the taxpayer unless Malcolm decides to sell it at a loss and foot the taxpayer with the difference.

  10. Personally I find Turnbulls comments insulting. Here is a politician that is hell bent on stopping the fibre roll out if his caveman party gets in at the next election and under his plan there is no telling how many will get fibre if any at all. I’m not even going to be polite about this any more. Turnbull STFU. We’ve all had a gut full of the idiocy, hypocrisy and misrepresentations coming from you and your antiquated party. It might get you a few votes in 2013, ok, good luck in 2016 then.

  11. Put aside the politics and the feeling of being insulted, it’s an issue of politics. One could easily argue that it is insulting that the head of Crown Corporation (Mike Quigley) is entirely in the government’s pocket. Both are just opinions, so they aren’t worth much and don’t add to a serious debate.

    When you put all of the rhetoric aside, the part I honestly don’t understand when looking at the numbers:

    – the number of residences passed by 2013 with fibre is only 25% of the 2010 projection
    – the number of connections by 2013 with fibre is only 9.5% of the 2010 projection
    – the number passed by wireless/satellite by 2013 is only 75% of the 2010 projection
    – Connected by wireless/satellite by 2013 is only 60% of the 2010 projection
    – Houses passed per day will exceed projections by about 15% of the 2010 projection

    There’s a couple of problems with the numbers in their totality.

    First of all, this is a civil engineering project. Having worked in that industry for a very long time, I can tell you, that when your costs exceed budget, revenue falls below budget and you’ve not made the progress you had planned for, the job is going to be a mess financially. In the last decade, go look at every major civil engineering project undertaken in this country and find one where the project fell behind and didn’t turn into a financial nightmare.

    There isn’t one.

    Cross City Tunnel in Sydney
    CityLink in Melbourne
    Airport Link in Brisbane
    Vic Desal Plant in Melbourne

    More to the point, the NextGen Network was built pretty much on time and on budget, but even with a considerably less aggressive business plan than the massive NBN, it too went bankrupt and cost it’s owners nearly a billion dollars in write downs.

    It is very, very difficult on such a massive project to make up time and the reason for that is because the cost of going faster isn’t linear, it actually gets more expensive as you scale. This kind of work doesn’t get economies of scale.

    That’s a logistics problem and no doubt people will argue that point, but frankly unless you’ve been on multi-billion dollar projects and seen them in operation, you’re just putting forward wishful thinking.

    The part that I don’t understand is, the rate of return during the plan’s coverage period. They are so far behind their own numbers that the increases in take up beyond what’s been the case to date are going to have to be herculean in nature.

    It is at this point where some kind of independent arbiter should review this government plan because despite everything being way behind schedule to date, their projections suddenly stem the delays and start to recoup. So visualize a graph, the projections from 2010 and the actuals to date have diverged over time. The government is now saying that those lines are going “converge” somewhat aggressively.

    Based on what? To date the actuals don’t reflect that. The only conclusion you can make are that the projections are not conservative in nature, but, excuse the pun, very liberal.

    The last issue is one that I don’t see anyone openly talking about and that is the ongoing cost of construction relative to budget. The large engineering companies that are building this network have spent the past half a decade getting badly beaten in PPP (Public Private Partnership) contracts where they took on too much risk and the governments (mainly state governments) pulled in excessive concession fees. Those same companies signalled they wouldn’t take that risk on the NBN.

    Since then there’s been consolidation in that industry and a very lean patch in terms of profitability, results and shareholder value. Yet those same companies are still sticking to the disciplines of only working on the NBN on a “cost plus” basis – so guaranteed margins and no risk. That is the number one reason I would suggest why the cost of construction has exceeded budget. What is the basis for the projection that construction costs will come back towards budget when the contractors simply aren’t taking those deals?

    I think what the government should do, to be conservative in their projections is to stop trying to have their cake and eat it too. If the NBN is an essential piece of infrastructure required by Australia, then that’s ok, rather than plan for a 7% return on investment, why not just plan on it breaking even. Then factor that into the cost model. In the current economy a 7% return would make the NBN one of the best performing assets financially in the country and I don’t see how a Crown Corporation can be that?

    The problem for the government is, they want to get the win for “nation building” but the also want the win for “sound economic management” and the numbers to date simply don’t stack up.

    The political differentiator in this whole thing is that Labor say the NBN is a national requirement, we must have it. The Coalition say it is a dud investment and the private sector should do it. Typical of the Gillard Governement’s existence, they look like they’re going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Abbott and Turnbull have no alternative that makes sense. The only thing they’ve got is what Conroy, Wong and Quigley are unfortunately for the government giving them and that is some pretty soft numbers.

    I’d suggest if you polled most Australians, they’d think the NBN is a good thing. But nobody likes government waste. So if the people are happy to build the NBN why expose yourself to the argument of extreme waste or cost overrun when you don’t have to. It seems to me that nobody is complaining about the $38B cost of building it.

    The deeper problem is the budget. Without the NBN returning something to the government coffers, they have to start wearing the losses. The capital cost they’ve pushed off the books, but depreciation and operating losses hit the bottom line. So Gillard and Swan need the NBN to make a positive return to make their overall budget numbers work.

    I just think the whole thing is a mess. People are asking Abbott and Turnbull what their plan is, frankly they don’t need one. They’re not in the business of building data networks, they’re in the business of getting elected and a popular public policy item like the NBN that is underpinned by suspect numbers is an absolute landmine for them. The best thing to do politically for them is to let Gillard and Conroy go tap dance in the minefield and hope they step on one. If they don’t Abbott knows the NBN isn’t an election winner anyway, so who cares. He’s playing the politics pretty well to be honest.

    • “- the number of residences passed by 2013 with fibre is only 25% of the 2010 projection”…etc…

      It is agreed by everyone that the 2010 projection was rushed and was made before any data or agreements had been collected. If it were in any way accurate today, it would have been akin to a “burning bush”…
      That said, the framework appears to be quite sound and considering that we started with a cost of $43 billion and are well below that even with the corrections, it is pretty damn impressive.

    • @Balanced

      Epic post….. :P

      2 quick things though-

      1- The increase in ROI as compared to the increase in CAPEX and OPEX overal, is because the Corporate Plan for these things (CAPEX and OPEX) works to 2022- the end of the build phase. The ROI is on the project AS A WHOLE, over 30 years. On that basis, with increasing revenues as people want more data faster and move up the tiers, the ROI has increased slightly after real world figures have been accounted for.

      2- ALL those Infrastructure examples you gave (bar the Desal Plant) are roads…..roads don’t make a monetary return as predicted because people don’t INCREASE they amount they use a toll road in general and governments don’t seem to understand this. If you toll a road, even if it saves you 20 mins, people who go that way every day might see their monthly costs rise by HUNDREDS of dollars a month from new tolls. So they choose to go the long way….lower traffic….lower tolls…..lower revenue and the PPP collapses because ridiculous forecasts were made.

      This is not the case in the NBN. People WANT faster speeds and they’ve been shown to be WILLING to pay for them. And they will CONTINUE wanting faster speeds, even if it’s just for entertainment. Also, if people don’t WANT to use the NBN….well, if they want a fixed line, they’ve got no choice. NBN is a wholesale monopoly, unlike a toll road.

      I agree we need to be balanced, but the figures from the Corporate Plan adds up. Mike Quigley has had a half dozen or so analysts look at the numbers over the past 2 years, including Analysis Mason and they say the numbers are reasonably sound. Guaranteed? No. Nothing in business is guaranteed. But enough that they put their name to the forecast.

      I don’t think it is fair to call the NBNCo numbers “suspect.” Business analysts and industry analysts CONSTANTLY go over them and the ONLY thing some are concerned about is whether the ARPU can be raised as the numbers predict. IF NBNCo. can’t meet its’ ARPU targets there are STILL things NBNCo. can do to offset this.

      Is there risk in the NBNCo. plan? Yes. Is it unmitigated? No.

    • Your numbers on percentages the rollout is behind 2010 projections doesn’t paint a clear picture at all. The project isn’t ~80% behind where it would have been, it’s 9 months behind. The 9 months have come from some very well documented causes like the time taken to make the Telstra deal. They have not been in full roll-out mode during those 9 months, which is why it’s not as damaging financially as you seem to assume it should be.

      You also seem to assume they’ll have to roll out exponentially faster to make up this ~80%, when in fact it has always been part of the plan to speed up the rollout. Sure they are going to do that even faster now, but only marginally, because while they are 9 months behind now they are planning to complete it 6 months later than the original plan. Making up 3 months compared to a plan based on some rough estimations over a ~9 year period is not exactly pushing the boat out.

  12. “…in a trend which [Malcolm Turnbull] described as being “insulting” to the nation’s taxpayers.”

    You know what I find to be “insulting” to the nation’s taxpayers? The bullshit and misdirection spewed forth from Malcolm and his comrades. I use to have a lot of respect for Malcolm, so much so that if they got rid of Abbot I would prob have voted for Libs because Turnbull was there. Not any more, thanks to those two (mostly, others as well) Libs will be at the bottom of my ballot paper next year.

    • +1

      dont put words in my mouth, Malcolm. im not insulted at all, but i am irritated to have you as my unwanted advocate. dont lie ‘on my behalf’ and think im going to thank you for it. i too liked you back in the days of republican debates but youve well and truly burnt that capital a long time ago. its saying something that even with Labor on the nose as it is, i simply cant remotely say the LNP has earned my vote.

      as for bashing NBNco for not having done enough….. this is the second plan NBNco have put out now – how many have you released?

  13. As a taxpayer and a skilled IT Engineer, I think you’re being too nice to the Member for Wentworth.

    Hes obviously now just kicking around cans for the sake of being heard. He has no plan, no vision and most likely (in an LNP Government) no future as a communications minister. Im now totally convinced that given the chance, Minister Abbott would relegate him elsewhere.

    I think if anything, this kind of petty scaremongering is below him. At this point Im not willing to believe that anyone with a sensible mind should vote for this man again. Hes obviously now giving in to political pressure from the higher-ups and is just blind firing.

    • Without being contrarian, you think it is more acceptable to vote for the leader who during the last election simply outright lied to the voters? I mean, “Under a Gillard Government there will be no Carbon Tax” doesn’t get much more clear than that. Then less than a month later after the election suddenly there will be a Carbon Tax.

      I think it is a bit rough to charge one side with dishonesty for disputing the facts but give the side who have a record of outright lies the benefit of the doubt.

      • Risking going slightly off topic, but this is what Gillard said before the 2010 election:

        “I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism. I rule out a carbon tax.”

        It’s the opposition that’s called it a “tax” to make it sound like a lie.

        • Stop bringing facts into this Michael. It doesn’t allow Balanced to maintain his unbalanced viewpoint.

      • Non core promise. I would be comfortable betting that every election has seen its share of lies or misrepresentations or promises not fulfilled.

        Also, to say that Gillard lied is to ignore the way govt was formed after last election. It’s not as though Labor had the numbers to do things all on its own. Or should the independents and greens just have rolled over and done Labor (or Coalition) a favour?

        “I think it is a bit rough to charge one side with dishonesty for disputing the facts but give the side who have a record of outright lies the benefit of the doubt.”

        Utegate, children overboard. Practically every utterance on the NBN. WMDs, Iraq, Afghanistan. Seriously.

      • “you think it is more acceptable to vote for the leader who during the last election simply outright lied to the voters?”

        To add to Michael’s point, both sides outright lied like crazy. Do you recall the agreement that Abbott actually signed with the Independents, only to break it within a week?
        “Lying politician” is almost a redundant title these days, but sadly we are finding that “Cash for Comment” is the current journalistic ethic as well. Journalists were supposed to be the “truth cops”…
        Thank God for journalists like Renai!

      • I think that’s a bit silly, really, given Abbott is happy to distort the truth, pretty much anytime he opens his mouth. Stones in glasshouses springs to mind.

        And until Mr Turnbull addresses the concerns regarding FTTN costs, the requirement of ongoing copper maintenance (which Telstra have stated has been wound down) and it’s eventual replacement, I really don’t see how his ever creative complaints over the NBN have value.

        He will not explain the upgrade path. Because there isn’t one, that is palatable. Refer BT and their gargantuan task of selling FTTN > FTTH.

        If he comes up with a viable solution for a post-FTTN policy, then I’ll be happy to listen. Till then, it’s akin to Great Aunt Maude asking what’s wrong with a grandfather clock, when the rest of the world has moved on.

      • Hey Balanced, go look up the definition of what a tax is. What we refer to as the Carbon Tax is actually an impost, not a tax.

        A tax is imposed on a value, not a volume, while a levy is more broad and includes duties, contributions, imposts, tributes, and taxes. And there are differences between all of those.

        A tax is a levy, while a levy isnt necessarily a tax.

        It was popular media and the Liberals that earned it the common name of Carbon Tax.

      • @Balanced

        Lies huh:


        Mr Abbott said the cost of the rollout would need to be recouped along the line.

        “People will be paying twice for it,” he said.

        “First they will pay for it when the Federal Government borrows $150billion and second through the higher charges.

        Emphasis added.

        This man lies in almost every speech he makes these days. Even IF Julia lied once, can that be equally compared to a man who lies DAILY?

        • It’s up to $150 billion now? Wow. I also like the way his first complaint is the money being spent on the NBN and his second complaint is when that money is paid back through usage charges. Weren’t they the ones who said if people want fibre they should pay for it?

          Also where are all the Liberal party apologists? Surely not even they could defend this? Come on speak up. Don’t be shy. Here is your BIG chance to prove just how objective and rational you are. Who will call them out? Will any one in the media call them out? Nope, they are historically silent too.

      • I see you conveniently decide to ignore the history of the Howard government, and their “non-core promises”.

      • I was wondering how long it would be before you showed your political colours.

        Funny, once people replied to your “balanced” comments, you shifted to Julia is a serial liar to justify the constant lies of the coalition of this subject. Now, it looks like you lost your balance.

        I note also you comment “The Coalition say it is a dud investment and the private sector should do it’.

        Clever! Why would the private sector invest into dud project?

        The worst thing about this debate is when people come to this site, pushing their political views. Next, is those pretending to have no particular political agenda but eventually not being able to help themselves and eventually revealing the true nature of their views.

        Most people on this site do not attack Turnbull, the man but his behaviour. They are dismayed that someone who seem to have a reasonable intellect can show so much content to those who have at least as much intellect as he has.

        • “They are dismayed that someone who seem to have a reasonable intellect can show so much content to those who have at least as much intellect as he has.”

          Speaking for myself I don’t see it that way at all. This is a similar situation to a scenario where you beat someone and they then say “I let you win” As a player how do you make a distinction between a bad player and someone who “let you win”? You cant and you don’t. It’s irrelevant, you scored. If you apply this logic to Turnbull and the claim is that he has “intellect” but really he just has retarded arguments (The Abbott factor etc). From my point of view that is effectively the same thing and the only conclusion I can draw is that he is a bad player. In this case (The NBN) he may be representing someone else’s opinion so he’s not only a bad player but also dishonest.

  14. If MT himself had produced this plan he would have gotten it absolutely right first time, no unforseen issues like a hung parliment, Telstra negotiations, or labour shortages and changes to base costs. I mean to not accurately predict those things and precisely account for them in a relatively simple project such as an NBN covering 93% of a country’s population across a 10 year time frame is just woeful.

    Meanwhile my local LNP member tells me if I’m interested in teleworking all I need is Skype and 1.5Mbps.

    Those guys are geniuses, he sure as heck convinced me it’s better to go for a cheaper solution with almost no long term viability than this NBN malarky.

  15. This performance from Turnbull was entirely predictable. The reasons for the changes to the corporate plan are well known to anyone prepared to listen. We don’t need political spin from either side. We just need the NBNCo to be given the opportunity to get on with the job. We can judge them in 12 months.

    • And yet the bigger picture is that the majority of the population will only read Turnbull’s one sided statement over this, and not see that its full of half truths and deception. FUDeral policy at its best.

      • I think people might find Turnbull easy to listen to and easier to believe than they do Conroy. He’s certainly smoother (ugh). Conroy’s maybe a bit too combative. That’s served him very well to get to this stage. Perhaps he needs an ‘assistant’ MP now to sell the NBN and counter Turnbull’s message. Someone like Kate Lundy perhaps.

    • We all know about politicians’ regard for the truth. Whether it is Gillard saying ‘There will be no Carbon Tax under a government that I lead’ or Turnbull claiming that NBN is ‘insulting’ and ‘falling disastrously behind”, they all seem to say things that are risibly incorrect.

      The problem that Turnbull seems to have created for himself is that while he continues to claim that NBN is bad and that the coalition will do it all so much ‘faster and cheaper’, he fails completely to give us any confidence that he can do so.

      Somebody observed above that Turnbull only has to knock NBN – he does not have to propose any detail of what he might do instead. I couldn’t disagree more. While Turnbull continues to assert that he ‘knows’ that NBN is bad, then he has an absolute obligation to tell us the detail of what he claims to be a superior policy.

      • Thing is Gillard said it once or twice and yes it was a lie….

        Turnbull continues to do so, time and time again.

      • @Socrates

        I couldn’t disagree more. While Turnbull continues to assert that he ‘knows’ that NBN is bad, then he has an absolute obligation to tell us the detail of what he claims to be a superior policy.

        It is his obligation. Politicians do not always meet their obligations well. Or at all.

  16. More Koolaid for the Delimiter readers, you guys live in another world. The NBN own plans show:
    1. overbudget
    2. behind the rollout schedule
    3. far fewer people signed up.

    Sorry I fogot, that passes as a successful IT roll out.

    • Summary: Blah blah blah.

      You dont care about debate, just trolling.

      There are justifications for all of those, and all of them are for the same reason, yet you just follow the FUD line and give a nice convenient summary that serves your purpose. The Liberals failure to separate Telstra has ultimately led to delays. I particularly like how the delays because of Telstra are now THREE reasons to shoot the project.

      Because there were delays, the rollout and signups are both behind. Thats fairly standard no matter who’s building what – if negotiations slow down or fail, the best laid plans arent going to be met on time. As it is, the final delay is what? 6 months?

      Do you really think the Liberal plan is going to work? I’ll give you a tip, its going to have to start all over again, delaying things a further 4 to 5 years. Negotiations about incentivising private industry to do the dirty work doesnt happen over night, especially when they already have a $11b guarantee to stick with the current plan.

      Come on, give some information for a change rather than just blow hot air. How is the Liberal plan going to be any different? You state that every large project inevitably fails, so whats so different about the FttN plan that means it wont fail?

  17. “Do you really think the Liberal plan is going to work? I’ll give you a tip, its going to have to start all over again, delaying things a further 4 to 5 years.”

    Exactly. That’s the thing the anti-progress crusaders always forget. Completely oblivious to the fact that these things take time. Then you have to build it. Even with all the political crap out of the way you still have to build the network just like the NBN. Their plan (whatever the fuсk it is) is always going to be behind, by the time it is finished even if you are optimistic and say 2018 that gives us 3 years and by that time it’s well and truly time for FttH. Stick to the plan morons. Australia will be a laughing stock and most of the laughing will be rightly directed towards Abbott and Turnbull. Others will just simply be asking the question “Why?”

    • I can guarantee you, that if the Coalition’s rival plan gets nowhere after 4-5 years, I will personally be using Delimiter to bay for Turnbull’s head. The Coalition has criticised the NBN so strongly that if it fucks its own plan up, it will have nowhere left to run.

      • Hear, hear…Renai.

        Thing is, I believe the majority of pro-NBN people will, if/once elected, give MT the benefit of the doubt, that he will at least deliver something and not just forever try to FUD-up every comment here.

        Unlike the fervent NBN haters who imo, obviously… hate the NBN for all the wrong reasons!

        • He did say:

          “We will ensure that all Australians have access to very fast broadband sooner, more cheaply and more affordably.”

          So whatever technology they decide to use I will expect at the very least 100/40mbps connection before 2016 for $98.

          I will also expect an alternative (to copper) fixed line way to connect since according to them infrastructure competition is important and a reason why the NBN is bad.

          I will also expect them to deliver plans faster than 1000/400mbps before 2022. (They really have to be technologically agnostic with this)

          My expectations are not unreasonable, they have refused to give any concrete numbers (NBNco does) “fast”, “sooner” and “more cheaply” are all weasel words. Speed is relative btw. Besides that they will have to match NBNco since he said “all Australians”.

  18. Turnbull was on 2gb and used the analogy of a farmer living 50km out of town, and instead of the council just upgrading the road and putting in curbing, builds a 6 lane freeway. He said it’s not going to get the farmer any quicker into town.

    The use of such an analogy shows he has no idea, and certainly no vision for the future.

  19. @flip flop

    “I think you’ll find the QLD LNP government isn’t doing a fat load of sweet nothing. It’s laying off workers left right and centre and reducing services as much as possible. Now THAT’S progress.”

    Excellent isn’t it! Getting rid of the mess Beattie & Bligh left the state in. Laying off workers who’s jobs should never have been created in the first place! (sad for workers, yes)

    The ALP, masters at creating bureaucracies, that require more jobs to maintain the jobs already there, that then create more bureaucracies that create jobs to maintain those new …….etc, hence the required trimming of the fat in QLD.

    I’ve seen it in action in the sugar industry, 20 year olds given a newly created job and then going out in the field to tell farmers in their 60s how to grow cane!? People need to remember it’s just not the wages of these jobs. it’s also office space rental, mobiles, computers and in some cases cars! That stuff adds up!!!


    Don’t let Lone gunmans FACTS get in the way of your agenda!!!

    • Personally I think state government sackings are targeting the wrong part of the workforce. It should start with the parliament. We have too many layers of government. Most of what state government do should be done at a federal level and the rest should be done more local.

      • Agreed SMEMatt

        Federal government is bad enough. State governments should be abolished and more power split between councils and federal.

        The NDIS scheme is a classic example of State governments using their ‘power’ in a schoolboy show of ridiculous ‘You can’t tell me what to do’ political football. It’s abusing power for the sake of one upping the opposing ideology of the boss.

  20. It is shameful that our politions stopp to these lows and how the general media picks it up as fact! How about the other facts that we’re only in this terrible Telstra monopoly, because the Liberal party SOLD TELSTRA and created the monopoly? Oh that’s right, things did actually move reasonably well when the government owned the monopolist in internet/phone infrastructure.
    Oh and there is more, isn’t the only time in recent years that the Telstra share price has gone upwards is since all these NBN announcements? Oh that’s right, a good thing happens to those “millions of Telstra shareholders” and they don’t tell us why, but as soon as something bad happens to those “millions” they don’t say anything?

    It just baffles me how such bad journalism can make it to front pages of these big publications!

    • Actually Observer, it seems to me Abbott is ONLY interested in pushing his mandated slogans, regardless of the truth.

      Abbott CANNOT back down on the Carbon Tax, the NBN, Asylum Seekers or anything else because he has NOWHERE to back down to. Abbott will go to the next election talking the same slogans regardless of whether they’ve been proven incorrect.

  21. Watching the video, I have a lot of compassion for Randall. The poor man exhibits all the characteristics of a village idiot.

  22. Thw dwlay is 6 months over a decade long project, not bad.
    The cost “blowout” is less than 10&, the standard figure for leeway in commercial infrasructure projects.
    For a completely greenfield project like this, the reality matching the prediction is amazingly close.

  23. Interestingly, on Malcolms Can Labor be trusted on NBN costs rant I have a post still awaiting moderation after 5 days

    Abel Adamski says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    August 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Malcolm, Why do you wish to cripple Australia’s future?

    As one who had an interest in technology since the 1960’s and also an interest in sociology. I was there and disgusted when during the Agricultural post war boom as a result of the decimated agriculture in the war ravaged nations. Those fantasy land Golden Years of the conservatives, then of course our customers became our competitors as was to be expected and completely predictable.. In the meantime the Consrvative Government removed funding for the CSIRO’s Computer research and development (CSIRAC) when they and our universities were among the world leaders. ( A waste of money and of no conceivable value [after a war where technology was the major factor] }. Then when the CSIRO and Aust universities sought funding for a semiconductor/integrated research development and fabrication program to be headed up by the university of WA in Perth – As to be axpected of the Consrvatives denied as of no value or benefit.
    We had our chance to grow a community of innovation and invention , a Silicon Valley in Aust
    In fact Conservative governments cut Pure Science research funding, moving to indiustry funded specific R&D projects.
    It is now being highlighted that we have a severe lack of core and foundation patents limiting our future, how did that come to be.??
    The US is the worlds technology leader, why?
    In case the link was not reproduced Google “the iPad deconstructed”


    Google “what if Bill Gates was Australian? ” Note there are two copies of the article, read the comments on both

    How come investors were gullible enough to pay $7 for Telstra T2, why the Government , Media and Financial experts of the Day were touting it as a great investment, friends and family that sought my advice, I told them run from it. it is a con, in fact if you can sell your T1 for anything approaching $7 grab it. Buy again when closer to $2.50. I still get thanked.

    I suspect the last section may have been over the top, however it is stated they reserve the right to edit, so it could have been edited as personal opinion which I pointed it it was by my wording

  24. @seven_tech

    “The NBN will create all these jobs for the future!”

    I too can make things up !!!

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