The Federal Government should not rule out stalling the National Broadband Network (NBN) to fund the multibillion-dollar rebuilding efforts for flood-affected Queensland and Victoria, according to the Business Council of Australia.
The government plans to invest $27.5 billion in the NBN, which will deliver high-speed fibre internet access to 93 per cent of Australian homes and had already commenced the roll-out.
But council chief Graham Bradley told ABC Radio that the network is a large public spend that should not be exempt from government razor gangs.
"The NBN is just one of the infrastructure projects that will have a demand on public funding over the next three, four, five years," Bradley said.
"Everything should be considered."
Economists have warned that the flood repair bill will add to inflation.
Bradley's comments follow suggestions from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that the government should scrap the NBN to fund the flood rebuild.
"It is time for the government to stop spending on unnecessary projects so that it can start spending on unavoidable projects such as the reconstruction that will be needed in Queensland," Abbott told reporters in Sydney.
"The National Broadband Network is a luxury that Australia cannot now afford. The one thing you don't do is redo your bathroom when your roof has just been blown off."
However, Andrew Connor, spokesperson for telecommunications consumer group Digital Tasmania, has lashed-out at Abbott for rubbishing the NBN and "politicising" the Queensland floods.
"This is just something that should never be politicised," Connor said. "I don't wish to [politicise] the floods myself, but this shows opportunism."
He said there is a "high chance" the NBN, should it have been implemented during the floods, would have been more resilient than the current copper network.
Damaged copper network infrastructure should be replaced with fibre, Connor said, even in areas not yet marked for deployment as per the NBN roll-out timeline.
Connor rejected claims that the NBN deployment should be scrapped or frozen to fund the rebuild, and said the two could be deployed in concert.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said earlier this year that the floods would not affect the roll-out of the NBN.