Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull today revealed that he had garnered coalition support for a private member's Bill that would force Labor to disclose key financial details of its flagship National Broadband Network project and conduct a cost-benefit analysis into its construction.
Malcom Turnbull (Credit: Malcom Turnbull's Office)
A statement issued by Turnbull's office this afternoon said that the National Broadband Network Financial Transparency Bill (2010) would require NBN Co to produce and publish a detailed, 10-year business plan for the $43 billion project, including key financial and operational indicators.
"It also requires the Productivity Commission to conduct a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis of the NBN and report back to Parliament by 31 May 2011," said Turnbull's statement.
According to the Bill, the Productivity Commission would be required to analyse the current availability of broadband across Australia (including identifying areas where services are of a lower standard or a higher price than in capital cities) and consider the most cost-effective and speediest options by which all Australians could receive fast broadband.
In addition, the commission would need to analyse the economic, productivity and social benefits likely to flow from better broadband, and the applications that would be likely to be used. A "full and transparent economic and financial assessment" would also be conducted into the NBN.
Turnbull has proposed that a Joint Select Committee be established from both houses of parliament to oversee the NBN roll-out — including government, opposition and cross-bench MPs and senators.
"The Coalition will be seeking government and cross-bench support for the Private Member's Bill and Motion in both houses," said Turnbull's statement.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that there was a detailed financial analysis in McKinsey and KPMG's $25 million Implementation Study and that NBN Co was due to submit its business plan to government, which he said would be released publicly.
"[The Implementation Study] found that the $43 billion total capital cost is a conservative estimate and there are opportunities to significantly reduce the build cost," Conroy said in a statement. "The Heads of Agreement between NBN Co and Telstra will also reduce the cost of the build by billions.
He added that the study had said that government investment would peak at $26 billion.
"Australians have already had to wait 12 years for action while the former Howard Government did nothing to improve broadband services across the country, they don't deserve to put up with further delays."