Jason Clare a ‘coward’, claims Turnbull


news Malcolm Turnbull has taken the extraordinary step of accusing his opposite Jason Clare of not having the “courage” to question him about the National Broadband Network project in Parliament, in response to building allegations that the Communications Minister and other Coalition figures are openly lying about the project in public.

Yesterday Clare, the Shadow Communications Minister, issued a statement stating that Turnbull had “lied” to the Parliament again on that day.

In Parliament yesterday, Turnbull was asked by Liberal backbencher Ross Vasta what impact Labor’s National Broadband Network project had on Australia’s debt burden, and how the new Coalition Government would deliver the project “sooner and more affordably”, in a friendly question known as a ‘Dorothy Dixer’.

Turnbull responded that as at the date of last year’s Federal Election, some six and a half billion had been borrowed by the Government and put into the NBN project “to deliver a service to less than three percent” of Australian premises.

“The Labor Party’s approach to the NBN is all on the same level as its approach to the budget—denial of reality,” the Minister said. “At the time they lost office, they said that this project was on time and on budget. Every single forecast, every single target had been missed. It was running way behind time, way behind forecast and way over budget. The strategic review which was published in December, an independent piece of work, demonstrated that the Labor NBN, had they been allowed to continue, would have cost peak funding and the total amount it would have cost, the most money—$73 billion. That was a hit on the taxpayer. That is all money that had to be provided or serviced or guaranteed in some way by the taxpayer.”

In response, in a statement yesterday, Clare stated that Turnbull “replaced facts with an outright lie”. “Mr Turnbull claimed the peak funding of the NBN needs to be “provided, serviced or guaranteed in some way by the taxpayer.” That is a lie,” said Clare. “The only call on Commonwealth funds is the equity funding. As noted in the NBN Co Corporate Plan the company’s debt financing will be without explicit guarantees from the Shareholder Ministers.”

“Mr Abbott needs to be concerned – Mr Turnbull is rapidly closing the gap in the competition to be the greatest liar in the Parliament.”

The evidence shows that Clare is correct when he states that Turnbull is lying with respect to the Minister’s claims about Labor’s NBN policy. Turnbull has been shown to have made a number of statements recently — in forums as diverse as Triple J and the ABC, as well as through statements published on his own site and on the site of the Department of Communications — which are demonstrably untrue, and which the Minister is aware are untrue. The ‘guarantee’ claim which Turnbull made in Parliament yesterday, as Clare pointed out, was inaccurate.

A good example is the $73 billion claim, which was restated by Turnbull yesterday. NBN Co’s Strategic Review, which Turnbull has read and is familiar with, states that almost all of the options for deploying NBN Co’s infrastructure will make a modest return on the Government’s investment — they will not cost billions, and certainly not $73 billion. In addition, the Strategic Review shows that Labor’s Fibre to the Premises plan could be reworked to cost $54 billion — only $15 billion more than the Coalition’s technically inferior ‘Multi-Technology Mix’ option.

In response to Clare’s statement, Turnbull posted on Twitter yesterday directly to Clare: “And once again won’t have the courage to ask me a question about it not so much fibretothepremise as jellytothespine”.

A number of Twitter commenters responded sharply to Turnbull’s comment. “I note that you didn’t actually response to his funding point. Why is that? Is he correct?” wrote one respondent. “When did @TurnbullMalcolm descend to the schoolyard insults? Been associating with Abbott and Pyne for too long?” added another.

“What’s the point of asking you @TurnbullMalcolm never get an honest answer anyway @JasonClareMP has more courage in his little finger,” wrote a third.

The news comes as the Government appears to be wheeling Turnbull out personally to help convince minor parties — which have been unwilling to support the controversial Federal Budget unleashed earlier this month — that they should get on board with the Budget. The Daily Telegraph last night published photos demonstrating that Turnbull had had a dinner yesterday with Palmer United Party chief Clive Palmer and Head of the Treasury, Martin Ferguson. Palmer has stated that the Budget was discussed.

I have to say, this is pretty disappointing behaviour from Turnbull. All Clare did was point out that Turnbull had made an inaccurate statement to Federal Parliament. In response, Turnbull chose not to address Clare’s claims, but to instead accuse him of being a coward. Hardly the response you would expect of someone of Turnbull’s supposed stature. But then, experience has shown that the Minister tends to develop a bit of a potty mouth when he feels he is under pressure.

Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting


  1. This is absolutely appalling. I’m appalled. How long must honest questions be met with school yard bullying before he is removed from a position he demonstrably knows very little about?

  2. I believe this is what one may refer to as a “strawman” logical fallacy.

    He’s indeed under immense pressure. Completely reliant on Telstra to deliver the Coalition plan, he’s now feeling the heat as the value of the copper networks (telco + hfc) has risen markedly given it being a critical requirement for delivery. And that’s all before the tens of thousands of node boxes are required to be built (what’s the time-per-node-build now up to to deliver the Coalition promises?) and the negative response this *will* have (I have a background in the electrical utility space and I can assure you that electrical pillars are met with massive negative responses, that’s before we even talk about kiosk substations).

  3. Having said that – it is the House; the adult equivalent of Kindergarten (hair pulling, bullying, mocking, etc).

    • He’s going for the “most lies told, most decietful germ in a six month period” title/target, miles out infront of the 2nd place competitor Tony “No Clue” Abbott at this stage.


    • “By the way.. How many targets has Mr Turnbull reached?”

      You mean the targets for the network that is supposed to be finished the year after next? The one they haven’t even started yet? Those targets?

  4. Ahh Mal once again showing you have no fucking clue what you are talking about/what you are doing re: communications portfolio.

    I guess the best thing is that people are starting to call him out on his outright lies

    How long are we going to let this corrupt and decietful individual destroy our communication future just so he can keep some of his mates in a job??


  5. News Flash.The renegotiation of Telstra’s $11 billion deal with NBN Co is likely to miss the mid-year deadline set by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull,
    People in glass houses…

    • http://delimiter.com.au/2013/08/27/additional-payment-turnbull-believes-telstra-will-give-govt-copper/

      Remember this? I do. I thought it was a remarkable statement at the time; the (then) shadow Minister seemed to have forgotten his predecessors had actually sold Telstra and as such they were under no compunction to do anything apart from maximise shareholder return.

      “.. their copper network in the context of an NBN world is of no economic value, it can’t be used anymore, so I’m very confident that we can acquire access, ownership if you like, of the last mile copper for no additional payment.”

      I hope Clare and Rowland ram this home, at every single opportunity, when the final (now potentially delayed) deal is priced.

      • What the minister for copper fails to understand is that it only held no value when it was being replaced. If you’re not replacing it you’ve giving it value. Smells like the kind of incompetent understanding of economics that hockey displays.

        • +1

          This has always been the white elephant in the room ever since the commitment to FTTN that the Coalition has been conveniently been trying to ignore. The fact they’re adding in HFC merely just compounds this as you know have 2 infrastructures which has gone from low to no value to much needed asset.

        • +1

          I’ve been pointing that out all along, Malcolm’s change of direction makes the copper (and also the HFC) extremely valuable…without it there is no Turnbull NBN…

  6. Reminder, nbn Senate hearing. 4pm to 11pm today.. Morrow will be present..
    If that’s OK to post Renai?

  7. Leave him be. Mal peaked with the Republic debate, where as a former Barrister he was outfoxed by a suburban solicitor (JWH). Its been all downhill since then.

    I suspect we are seeing the last flaring embers of a man who peaked in his early 40s but like most egotists didn’t or most likely, couldn’t recognise either that or his subsequent forays, most of which haven’t been executed to any Tunes of Glory.

    Think Leader of the opposition, former barrister and merchant banker beaten by a 3rd rate ex journalist; think above beaten by a mentally challenged public servant (Gordon Grech); think Cabinet Minister beaten by the Russian Mafia, rain making gun; I wont go on…..

  8. Truly Monty Pythonesque
    The Dead Parrot, The argument, the list goes on, all so fitting.

    Or should we look at the Government as a whole.
    Fawlty Towers on Steroids

  9. I think it’s Tricky Turnbull time again. The “in some way” bit could give him an out.

    aiui by the time the NBNCo takes on commercial debt the ‘fire sale’ value of the NBNCo’s assets will be greater than the commercial debt. If it all goes pear-shaped the commercial debt will be repaid before the government gets any of its equity back. It could be said that the debt is “in some way” guaranteed by the government’s (ie. taxpayers) equity.

    It’s bloody tricky if that’s what Turnbull means but it fits with past performances.

    • Not really.

      “.. that was a hit on the taxpayer. That is all money that had to be provided or serviced or guaranteed in some way by the taxpayer.”

      Investors (we) provide, however it’s the Government that actually caries the risk. Tax payers are shielded in that any additional expense would simply be redirected from elsewhere.

      Given the government was always going to sacrifice health and education to build roads and what not – it’s not like those core services would have otherwise survived.

      He’s grasping at straws trying to argue that it was a ‘loss’ for the prior government and taxpayer, despite his party continuing the same practice and thus it magically stopping the waste.

      Which of course it isn’t; the costs are set to increase as Telstra’s copper network becomes the linchpin of MTM.

      • And before you try the further argue the point, CMOTDibbler, our taxes aren’t raising to cover any shortfall; the funding continues from contingency and other avenues if required – or the government can elect to cap to a specific value.

        Either way, the current sunk investment isn’t a loss unless the Government decides to write it off and or place it back on the Federal Budget.

        To consider he has a point ignores the facts. :)

        Until then, it’s entirely part of the overall investment and Malcolm is simply deflecting the debate.

        • I’m not going to argue anything. I’m simply pointing out Turnbull’s tricky use of language to let him say something that sounds bad to the uninformed and that sounds like a lie to the informed but isn’t actually a lie. It’s not the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

  10. There is no way mt can compare ftth and cbn network costs yet. The telstra negotiations have not been finalized, and there is no guarantee that the deal will be equivalent to the current $11b deal.

  11. Coward?

    I have received exactly zero replies from *any* communication with Turnbull’s office.

    • He will block you on Twitter too if he hasn’t got an answer that he can try and spin to his advantage, so don’t ask him question there either :)



  12. Hey so the news spotted Malcolm Turnbull and Clive Palmer having lunch together..
    “Hey Clive.. Does your political party have any.. uhh.. openings?”

    • As the meeting also involved the Head of Treasury, I suspect they are using Malcolm to negotiate budget ‘stuff’ with Clive….probably because Clive doesn’t trust Tony or Joe.

      I got news for you Clive…

  13. Wouldn’t it be more cowardly to call someone a liar in parliment where they are protected being sued? I do recall several times MPs have been called cowards for not making claims like that outside of parliment.

  14. I think the technical term all’y’all are looking for here is ‘psychological projection’.

  15. “Turnbull chose not to address Clare’s claims, but to instead accuse him of being a coward. Hardly the response you would expect of someone of Turnbull’s supposed stature”

    Exactly the response I expect from the disHonourable Mr Malcolm Turnbull.

  16. I have a simple question, when will we the public get the chance, or how do we get the chance to sack MT, and TA….. Blatant lies and creating an NBN that is clearly no where what the industry or the country wants, i thought they are supposed to represent the people?

    Seriously, how do we get him sacked, an inquiry, something needs to happen…….

  17. I have to say that Jason Clare had that coming. No one can deny that he has been just about silent on the NBN at such a critical time. When the current Minister has been SO vulnerable on this issue! You can drive a truck through the policy and dialogue gaps and missteps. Come on! We are counting on you to be an effective opposition, a bulldog opposition with the current bulldog Prime Minister. But you’re asleep on the job, as is the current opposition leader.

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