Aus Govt let public down on NBN: Turnbull

Aus Govt let public down on NBN: Turnbull

Summary: Malcolm Turnbull has said that the Australian Government is letting the public down with NBN delays and cost blowouts.


Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull has said that delays and blowouts in the next stage of the National Broadband Network (NBN) project show that the Federal Government has let taxpayers down.

On Wednesday, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy released an updated plan covering the next three years to mid-2015.

It showed that construction costs will rise by 3.9 per cent to AU$37.4 billion, leading to a six-month extension in the construction timetable, to June 2021.

Turnbull said that the plan, which updates the initial program laid out in December 2010, showed that more investment would come from the Commonwealth.

"Labor's National Broadband Network is falling disastrously behind every benchmark the government has set for it except one: the amount of taxpayers' money being spent," he said in a statement.

An increase in "indirect" operating expenses — primarily staff costs — from AU$3.7 billion to AU$7.8 billion is "even more insulting to taxpayers", Turnbull said.

"NBN Co may not be able to put together a budget or roll out a network, but it knows how to take care of itself," he said.

He said that NBN Co should be given a definitive budget to stick to.

"And the Productivity Commission should be asked to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis to assess the most efficient means of upgrading Australians' broadband as quickly as possible," Turnbull said.

Turnbull has said previously that a coalition government would deliver broadband services through a cheaper and quicker plan, albeit at slower speeds, through a mix of copper, fibre, wireless and satellite technologies.

While the cost of the project is set to go up, NBN Co also identified a number of savings that it has been able to make in the roll-out, such as volume discounts for equipment; making battery backup units voluntary, which it says will save "hundreds of millions of dollars"; and rolling out fibre to the premises from the start, unless premises opt out of the roll-out.

Conroy yesterday said that Turnbull is set on "sabotaging" the NBN.

"Malcolm Turnbull is engaged in an act of sabotage on the NBN," he said. "He wants to pretend that he is going to complete the NBN. It's not the NBN that we're talking about.

"Malcolm Turnbull has made a whole range of inconsistent statements."

When asked yesterday about Turnbull's proposed scaled-back proposal, Quigley indicated that it would require a lot of work.

"You need to do a complete architectural design of the network again. As far as I'm aware, the only people that can do fibre to the node are incumbents. They own the copper. If you're going to do fibre to the node, the first thing you need to do is get access to the copper tail. It's a complete architectural redesign."

Conroy said that Turnbull's argument — that his roll-out would cost one third of the current NBN plan — is based on the assumption that the roll-out would be done by an incumbent like Telstra.

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Wages blow out

    ironic a politician complains about wages blowout. They only need look at their own parliamentary wages blowout!
  • Drserving wages Non-deserving us

    I agree tonye56.... but politics is about the deserving and the undeserving... they deserve their pay and according to the lnp australia doesn't deserve a decent broadband network rather the fraud band that has been lnp policy for the last 16 years. I had time for Turnbull till I found that he had something to do with ozemail a company i was with for three weeks it made feces look fantastic [remember the good ol dayz when all internet had no contract].
    I am currently with dodo [no contract] my unit is within 1k of the main brisbane rail line and my adsl2+ is throtled down to 0.5mb [still with drop outs at peak times] to cope with the copper wire that is less than 30 years old. Now you may ask could it be dodo? When i went to the iinet site to sign up they indicate that there is no adsl in this area.
  • Oh what a surprise - the costs are rising!

    Oh what a surprise - the costs are rising! Who would have thought it? With master administrators like Quigley and Conroy at the helm I'm amazed this minor doubling of operating costs (staff costs only) is surely only a mere statistical blip. Who would have thought that a couple of extra tea ladies and a few extra cleaners would had such an effect.

    Well my much maligned fellow taxpayers get used to it - as the old song says - this could be the start of something big. Perhaps the "could" should be replaced by "will".

    Costs will continue to blow out and roll out deadlines will continue to be missed. The really sad thing is that when Conroy disappears in late 2013 and Turnbull takes over very little is likely to change.

    A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi
    • Handing out voting cards again Brian...ffs

      Oh what a surprise...

      The self confessed Liberal Party member, is here electioneering again.

      Why not toddle off to the 19th hole Brian and leave this discussion to those who can see past their own wallets and who are not hamstrung by blind political subserviency...

      There's a good boy...thank you.
  • Tony's roads will blowout too as they always do!

    All construction have cost blowouts whether private or government, roads are amongst the biggest blowouters. Malcom must be mad if he expects a "fixed budget" over a ten year time frame, no other government construction program works this way the NBN is being constructed in a manner no different to a road program.
    Roads are unfortunately already obselete as is the entire auto industry it's quite clear that by 2022 the world will have to run on 25% less oil with the elephants like China and India taking shares of the reduced availablity away from western nations.
    Australia will have to face a halving of fuel supplies, why else is the refining industry abandoning ship, they are doing it everywhere except India and China.
    Politicians companies and promoters of roads should face crimminal charges for the huge monies wasted on these white elephant roads and be strung up over the nearest tree.
    Communications via a NBN is a critical necessity and must be built at any cost the exsisting copper network is too old and inefficient to do anything with.
    Kevin Cobley