Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has fought back against claims by the Coalition government that the true cost of building the National Broadband Network (NBN) is AU$94 billion, stating that there is "no analysis or facts" behind the claim, and reiterating that the current corporate plan has a figure of $37.4 billion.
The $94 billion figure comes out of a leaked document, which is allegedly part of the Coalition's own broadband policy, according to News Limited. The document also states that the network will be finished four years late, in 2025.
The Coalition's policy on broadband is expected to be released this week.
Conroy admitted to ABC's AM program on Monday morning that there had been setbacks in the NBN rollout, but that the current three-month delay could be made up over the next few years and do not represent a four year delay.
"This is not that the 10 years has been 'blown out', as the Opposition are claiming today. They are claiming today it's going to take 'til 2025. They have no analysis behind these claims; no analysis or facts behind $90 billion, no analysis or facts behind 2025 as a finish date," he told ABC AM.
Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull only last month said that the NBN could take "in excess of 20 years" to complete. His speech to Parliament came as NBN Co's rollout figures showed that it was lagging behind its target figures for June.
NBN Co had previously revised its costs and completion schedule when it updated its corporate plan in August last year. The new plan showed a 3.9 percent increase in capital costs to $37.4 billion, and a six-month extension to the construction timetable to bring it to June 2021.
Upon hearing allegations of a cost and schedule blow out, the Australian Industry Group (AIG) urged the government to conduct a rigorous cost-benefit analysis to see if the $90 billion figure rang true, but without withdrawing its support for the NBN.
"It's a project that the business community broadly supports, as long as it's done properly and with the proper costings in place," AIG boss Innes Willox told ABC Radio on Monday.