Funding for the National Broadband Network (NBN) and a number of other tech projects would be redirected to building roads and tax cuts under a Tony Abbott Coalition government, the opposition leader has revealed.
Tony Abbott addresses the National Press Club in Canberra.
(Screenshot by Josh Taylor)
Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra today, Abbott outlined that should the Coalition win the next election, the Liberal National government would end a number of programs and scale back the public service by 12,000 to bring the budget back into surplus, and deliver a number of tax cuts.
"The starting point will be programs that have become bywords for waste. Discontinuing the computers-in-schools program, which parents are now having to pay for anyway, will save half a billion dollars," he said. "Big savings could be made in the government's $350-a-throw set-top box program, since Gerry Harvey can supply and install them for half the price."
In addition to canning the government's controversial mining tax and carbon tax, funding for the NBN would also be shifted to building roads, he said.
"Better broadband will once more be delivered through market competition, freeing more money to tackle pressing problems like the traffic gridlock in outer metropolitan areas," he said.
The Coalition has not clearly outlined its proposed alternative to the NBN; however, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that the fibre roll-out would be scaled back, with the use of fibre to the node (FttN) in some areas, and opening up the hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) networks of both Telstra and Optus to competition. No costs have yet been revealed; however, one independent firm put the cost for Turnbull's plan at $16.9 billion.
The Coalition has previously attacked the NBN for being "off-budget", meaning that it doesn't appear on the budget bottom line for the government. However, a Parliamentary Library economist said recently that the government's costing was correct, given that the project was not an expense, because it was seeking a rate of return of 7 per cent.
Abbott said that no good government would have embarked on the NBN project in the first place.
"No good government [would spend] $11 billion on buying Telstra's copper wires only to shut them down, too," he said. "Or $50 billion plus on a National Broadband Network that people don't need and don't want to pay more for."