Abbott pledges vigilance on NBN stuff-ups

Abbott pledges vigilance on NBN stuff-ups

Summary: Coalition Leader Tony Abbott has warned Prime Minister Julia Gillard that the Opposition will be "hyper-vigilant" in monitoring Labor's National Broadband Network (NBN) project for screw-ups.


Coalition Leader Tony Abbott has warned Prime Minister Julia Gillard that the Opposition will be "hyper-vigilant" in monitoring Labor's National Broadband Network (NBN) project for screw-ups.

The revelation yesterday afternoon that rural independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor will support Labor to form government means the NBN is likely to go ahead, with both citing the flagship project as one of the key reasons they decided to support Labor above the Coalition.

But in a press conference held after the independents' announcement, Abbott warned Labor that the NBN wasn't on easy street.

"You can be absolutely certain that the Opposition is going to be hyper-vigilant in this area," he said. "My strong suspicion is that the NBN is going to turn out to be school halls on steroids."

The Liberal leader further referred to the potential for the NBN to become an "absolute minefield of waste and incompetence" and said that no government should commit $43 billion in funding, the total anticipated cost of the NBN, without a full cost-benefit analysis, which Labor has repeatedly dismissed the need for with respect to the project.

One aspect of the deal between Labor and the independent duo is that wholesale pricing equivalence will apply between rural areas and the city with respect to the NBN.

Journalists immediately quizzed Gillard on the matter in a separate press conference yesterday afternoon, asking whether the pricing equivalence meant those living in metropolitan areas would be subsidising the bush.

But Abbott did not jump at the opportunity to take Labor to task on that particular matter. "I understand that it is often necessary to subsidise services in regional and remote areas," he said. "Certainly our policy envisaged subsidies in regional and remote areas."

He said that the important thing was that the Australian people got the right broadband solution at the right price, which he didn't think the NBN project represented.

Abbott's comments came after Gillard invited Australians to reflect on the significance of the NBN project going ahead, with its potential to deliver equivalent telecommunications pricing for the bush with metropolitan Australia.

"Whether you're on the broadband in Tamworth or on the broadband in CBD Sydney, the wholesale price on broadband will be the same," Gillard said. "What it means is that every Australian is going to get access to the same wholesale price and opportunity ... this is unparalleled since the days when we were talking about building railroads."

Topics: Broadband, Government AU, NBN

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  • *sigh* and it begins. An opposition not interested in driving policy and reform, just in tearing down.
  • How can Abbott be vigilant if he doesnt understand or doesnt want to understand the need for faster broadband...he comes from a generation (like my parents) who puts their head in the sand and pretends climate change is not occurring and there is no need for faster broadband...I'm not saying labour wont stuff it up as they stuff up most things but in reality Abbott wouldnt have a clue about emerging technology based on his pre election comments.
  • As usual he considers his job in opposition is to simply oppose everything.
    Much easier than becoming informed or being constructive
  • Holding that balance of power puts our Independents in a precedent-setting position. Even if they have allowed Labor to form "government", it is incumbent upon them to ensure that they support policies from either party that are in accordance with what the *majority* of Australians want.

    Their loyalties must rest with the constituency, not the party system.
  • And while I agree it's not the ideal way to go, do you think it would be any different if the roles were reversed? You also have to consider the prospects of another election, which ANY opposition would be happy to pursue given recent events.

    Forgetting the parties themselves, how can anyone commit to spending 43Bn tax payer dollars without a proper cost analysis. If this were a business you'd never find a CEO, CFO, or shareholder supporting such a reckless commitment to expenditure.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • The issue isn't specifically about 'broadband' or 'fibre' it's about replacing the aging copper infrastructure and last decade (or so) of ad hoc internet technologies.

    Yes, it's time to replace it with a technically viable and affordable high speed backbone. Whether it's fibre or string is irrelevant, as long as it serves the long term need of the nation.

    Dismissing anyone of Abbotts generation as unable to understand the internet is just as ridiculous as assuming the leader of a party (or nation) needs to be totally tech savvy to implement a broadband plan...that's why they have advisors and experts.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • As usual people have failed to listen to the words that came out of the opposition leaders mouth. Abbott clearly indicated his role is to force another election as soon as possible so we can end this untennable political situation.


    1. The ALP overturned their leader and replaced him in under 24hours.
    2. The ALP spent a month trying to convince us they still were the chosen leaders.
    3. A large number of Australians decided neither of the two major parties should lead.
    4. The election was only decided after 3 individuals blackmailed both parties, siding with those who offered the most.

    How can an election boil down to the decision of three inidividuals? Hardly democratic...

    Any opposition leader worth their salt would rightly do anything to force another election, hopefully one that is decided by the people and not three minor politicians.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • All very correct in theory. However, Australia is in an untennable political position. I think you'll find the majority of Australians want another election so that the choice of leader/party is clear and unambiguous. This would then allow politicians to focus on doing their job of supporting policies in accordance with what the *majority* of Australians want.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • If Mr Rabbit had been more vigilant in understanding and supporting the national benefit of the NBN, he'd be the Prime Minister now.
  • Exactly the point Scott W (your political leaning now most apparent).

    Australia the nation is NOT listed on the ASX... think about it!
  • Oh ScottW, #1 applies to the Libs too (think Nelson, Turnbull, Abbott - and Hockey who missed out by just one vote of beating Abbott). So too do 2 and 3.

    #4 is complete BS. For example, Andrew Wilkie was offered - $340m for Tassie hospitals from Labor and $1b from the Libs, more than half of a nationwide $1.8b pool. But Wilkie chose Labor, because they showed commonsense, contstraint and fair governance.

    From Andrew Wilkie (about Abbott's 1,000,000,000 silver pieces/blood money)-

    He said this was an 'extraordinarily generous offer', three times the amount of money Tasmania would probably get through a new round of health and hospital funding.... 'I think this is an example of where seeking a more modest amount but being more conscious of proper process, and more conscious of equity, so that hospitals around the country can benefit from $1.8 billion is a much more ethical way to go than simply just grabbing a $1 billion for Tasmania,' he said.{END}

    Sorry son...try again...!
  • LOL... right on cue!

    Only one day after... I see there are already moves afoot, by Andrew Robb to oust Julie Bishop, as deputy opposition leader. So...

    Scott, whereas you apparently believe Labor are treacherous and the Libs perfect, I know, they are all peas in a pod.

    I just believe the NBN is a great idea and as such supported Labor "this time"!
  • RS, you make this argument every time someone argues for some cost oversight on this project. Sure the nation isn't listed on the ASX, but spending 43 Billion dollars will have massive effects on our economy and the standard of living for Australians. Government borrowing billions of dollars will push up interest rates for a start.

    I'm not against broadband rollout for the nation, but I do think there should be a strict level of oversight on an amount of money that large being spent. You seem to confuse a cost analysis with a return on investment, they are not the same thing.
  • And you hang other people for their obvious political leanings :)
  • And am I wrong? Is Australia listed on the ASX? Well...

    Anyway... it has been projected by McKinsey/KPMG that the NBN will be $26B...

    And no it won't have a massive financial effect, imo. Again we pay (latest figures) almost $93B per year, to fund governance. Do you comprehend that? We spend every year, over 2x the cost of a nationwide NBN on bureaucracy.

    Again trim that by 5% per year over the build period and it's paid for.

    But should the government do cost analysis on all infrastructure. Hospitals needed, to expensive, no not viable ... no hospitals.

    Good thing about the NBN is it will have a ROI and will over time pay itself off...!
  • Oh look, I've gained a new troll, LOL...

    I have NBN leanings big difference what yourr excuse? Don't see you bagging Scott, hmmm.
  • The Opposition is going to be 'hyper-vigilant' on the Labor NBN rolloout, cannot understand why, Labor have never stuffed up anything before!
  • LOL... after 11 years of comms, thumbs twiddling, while in government, the opposition now want to be vigilant.