news The Opposition has accused Malcolm Turnbull of telling a “lie” with respect to the cost of upgrading Telstra’s copper network to support Fibre to the Node technology on the National Broadband Network, at the time when the Prime Minister was the Shadow Communications Minister.
Under Labor’s previous near-universal Fibre to the Premises model for the NBN, the HFC cable and copper networks owned by Telstra and Optus would have been shut down. However, the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix plan instituted by Malcolm Turnbull as Communications Minister in the Abbott administration is seeing them acquired and upgraded by the NBN company.
However, internal documents released by the Opposition last week showed that, by the NBN company’s own estimates, the cost of remediating Telstra’s network had blown out by a factor of ten from original expectations, to about $641 million, with the cost of rolling out infrastructure to each premise via Fibre to the Node having blown out from $600 to about $1600 per premise.
Speaking late last week at Parliament House, Clare said Turnbull had estimated that the cost of upgrading Telstra’s copper network to support Fibre to the Node technology would cost about $50 million, appearing to refer to costs estimated as part of the NBN Strategic Review conducted in November 2013 when Turnbull was Communications Minister. “Now we find out that it will cost more than $600 million,” he said.
Clare said Turnbull had perpetuated a “myth” that he had somehow “fixed the NBN”. However, the Shadow Minister said, the claim was “just that — it is a myth”.
“He has made a mess of the NBN,” Clare added. “He’s doubled the cost. Doubled the time it will take to build it and now we find out that the cost of upgrading the copper has blown out by almost 900 percent. That’s what this document reveals – that the cost of upgrading the copper to make his second rate network work has blown out by almost 900 percent. Now most people don’t get promoted for blowing their budget by almost 900 percent. Most people get the sack. Malcolm Turnbull was made Prime Minister, not because of what he did to the NBN but in spite of it.”
Clare said when choosing the direction of the NBN following the September 2013 Election, Turnbull had relied on information that was written by “mates that he owns a yacht with”.
The development of the NBN Strategic Review was overseen by J.B. Rousselot, an executive who was appointed to a senior position at the NBN company following Turnbull’s appointment as Communications Minister. Rousselot and Turnbull have previously worked together at several companies, and are reported to be joint owners of a yacht.
Clare said his view on the use of Telstra’s copper network as part of the NBN had been “very clear from the start: That Fibre to the Node is second-rate”.
“That it is not what people are going to need in the long term. It’s why Verizon in the United States is getting rid of copper and rolling out fibre. It’s why Singapore, Japan, South Korea, even New Zealand have decided that we need fibre to the home, not fibre to the node, relying upon last century’s copper,” he said.
“Malcolm Turnbull said he could do this, he said he could do it cheap. What this leaked document today reveals that that was all wrong. That was all a lie.”
“It’s not going to cost $50 million, it’s blown out by almost 900 percent to more than $600 million. It’s just another example of Malcolm Turnbull’s bad judgment. We see it on Mal Brough, and his refusal to sack Mal Brough. We saw it years ago when he accepted the advice of fraudster Godwin Grech, who gave him false information and we see it now on the NBN.”
The news comes as Turnbull yesterday came under pressure about his stewardship of the NBN project, in the context of the fact that its infrastructure will support the National Innovation and Science Agenda the Prime Minister unveiled yesterday morning.
At the launch of the innovation policy, Turnbull was forced to answer questions about the Coalition’s version of the NBN. In return, the Prime Minister strongly attacked the previous Rudd/Gillard Labor Government’s governance of the project.
And last night on the ABC’s 7:30 program, Turnbull was again asked about the project.
In response, the Prime Minister appeared to make a statement on the program which may have been factually inaccurate regarding the National Broadband Network, claiming that the cost of remediating Telstra’s copper network was not ten times the amount originally estimated, despite the leaked NBN documents released last week constituting evidence to the contrary.