Turnbull promises transparent, business-like NBN Co

Turnbull promises transparent, business-like NBN Co

Summary: In a sit-down interview with ZDNet, Australian Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised that under a Coalition government, NBN Co will be more transparent and more business-like than it is today.


While unable to say how much his own broadband policy would cost, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised that his NBN Co would be more transparent and would take a more business-like approach than the NBN Co under Labor.

The shadow minister sat down with ZDNet in his office in Parliament House earlier this week to discuss his proposed policy and what he would do with the AU$37.4 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout if the Coalition wins the September 14 federal election.

Turnbull said that on day one, if the Coalition wins government, the NBN would continue.

"The momentum will continue. We are not going to cancel contracts, we're not going to stop work anywhere," he said.

"What we will do, is firstly, we will ensure the company reveals a fully transparent analysis of where they are up to at the moment and what it is going to cost them to complete the project, both in terms of money and in terms of time."

NBN Co would be more transparent than it is today, he said.

"We'll be completely transparent, and then we will set out what the savings are in time and in dollars by taking a different approach.

"I can assure you that my approach as minister for communications will be, in this sense, quite non-political. I will manage NBN Co, the government's responsibility there in a thoroughly business-like managerial, cost-effective manner," he said. "So people will understand when we make decisions, we will make them based on facts and data we will share with the Australian people."

When asked whether the Coalition would provide rough costings of his proposed fibre-to-the-node policy based on the publicly disclosed accounts released by NBN Co, Turnbull said that it would not be possible.

"It would be very, very rough. What do we know [is] a fibre-to-the-node deployment, which is appropriate in most brownfields areas — not all, but most — costs in terms of expense, the whole thing end to end, [will be] around the quarter of the cost ... of fibre-to-the-premises, and takes about a quarter of the time to deploy," he said.

"The approach we would take would be much more cost-effective both in terms of dollars and in terms of time. We can get people's broadband upgraded to very high speeds much sooner and at less cost to the taxpayer. If the cost is less, therefore, it will be more affordable because there won't be such a huge capital investment to get a return on."

The reason why the Coalition wouldn't release costings is that NBN Co has not been fully transparent with its costs so far, he said.

"They will refuse to tell us what it is costing to connect each premise. They said [in Senate estimates] with breath-taking arrogance that they were not going to provide any more detailed information about the cost of the rollout, the rate of the rollout than they have already provided," he said.

"[Communications Minister Stephen Conroy] resents any questioning, he abuses Senator [Simon] Birmingham for daring to ask questions. There has never been so much money spent with so little transparency by any government."

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU, Australia


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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  • LOL

    Josh, why did you not ask the tough questions?

    1. He's not accepting 3'rd party control.
    2. How can he claim it's too long.
    3. Not rolling out in WA is incorrect.

    I think you been too cosy with Turnbull.
  • Rollout

    And the fact that NBNCo have lots of information on the rollout if Malcolm just looked.
  • ROFL Turnbull lying out of ass.

    And Liberal senator was abusing the CEO Mike Quigley calling him brain dead and was swearing in senate estimates.

    FTTN is not suitable, Telstra and Optus spent $80 billion on copper networks.
    • "Telstra and Optus spent $80 billion on copper networks"

      Can you back this statement up? I don't think so. FTTN is a much more cost-effective way of providing high speed broadband. If the private companies want to take it from there, then all the better. But it would still be a massive improvement over copper networks. FTTH is overkill. But that's nothing surprising from a govt that gave us Pink Batts, School halls, cash for clunkers, etc etc etc.
      Kunal Nanda
      • Yes


        It would have upgraded FTTH twice over.

        And no FTTH is not over kill, you not understanding dynamics of the Internet and way things change.
        • Sorry Correction

          1/3 of that was for wireless, but then it also excludes operational and maintenance costs and funding costs which are included in the NBN - at least to the value of of the wireless CAPEX
          Abel Adamski
      • And again all talk no facts!

        Oh your response to the silly thing about Batts, Schools, it was defuted.

        It was response to GFC, you know the one the Coalition Leader was sleeping?

        • No Blame

          Just another Gullible Sucker that blindly believes the lie factory.
          Hopefully he gets a bit smarter and does his own research.
          To coin a phrase The truth is out there"
          Abel Adamski
      • "FTTN is a much more cost-effective way of providing high speed broadband."

        Hubert Cumberdale
      • Sigh

        "But that's nothing surprising from a govt that gave us Pink Batts, School halls, cash for clunkers, etc etc etc."

        LOL... another foot soldier electioneering...!
      • Private companies.

        Kunal did you just wake up & think I will type junk comments.
        1. NBN is being built by private companies. An area is placed out to tender to build the network and companies bid on the tender. NBN Co just pays the contractors, re NT contracts being returned by the tender winner.
        2. Turnbull has no idea either about the process as he thinks all the men that are installing the NBN are working for the NBN Co when in fact they are not.
        3. FTTN is NOT effective, as you still have copper wires in the ducts and pits and these need to be maintained over time. Building FTTH is far more efficient and cost effective in long run as you do not need to replace aging infrastructural. Cost alone in coming years will make it very expensive to replace. FTTN is just cheaper to install.
        Like the RTA in NSW only buildiung a 4 lane toll road only to discover in 10 years time they got it wrong and need to have the road widened to 6 costing almost as much to build the original, so that is your idea. Also BT is now going ahead with FTTH after deciding it is better than FTTN like they built.
        4. FTTN will not provide ANY speed increase to any one in a home away from the node. The furthur away you are from a node the greater the speed drop. As copper wire has speed and physics limitations. Hence there has been no speed increase after ADSL 2+ was released.
        So the speed will be fast till it hits the copper wire and cause a traffic jam being slowed down as the copper wire can not handle the speed at which fiber can.
        5. FTTH is future proof also, so if they want to increase the speed to say 1000 GB's / sec they can, where has this will not be possible under fiber / copper system.
        6. Australia will have a patch work quilt Internet as companies will have to maintain, fiber copper and other technologies, hence costing more in long run.
        7. ISP's will be even more confused as they will need to have different plans for FTTH / FTTN, & satellite set ups.
        8. Currently all new homes built since late 2000's have fiber wires in the house & connected to fiber connections in the exchange. Example new housing estates. So what a step backwards this is if the FTTN takes place as homes will be built with fire only to have backwards copper wires from the house to the node then fiber to the exchange.
        No FTTN is a backward penny pinching internet we should not be getting.
        China is building a FTTP network but do you see the Lib's saying they are getting it wrong?
  • Misinformation

    To follow up Daniel Zenno's post.

    1. Turnbull claimed no premises connected other than the East Coast. Incorrect.
    2. Turnbull claimed that Conroy and NBNCo would not provide cost per premise. Incorrect. At Senate Estimates they provided price range of $1200-$1500 per premise.
    3. Turnbull claimed that their network would provide "very high speeds". This is not a technical term he must be asked what MINIMUM speeds that he is trying to acheive.
    Jared Stevenson
    • What MINIMUM speeds that he is trying to acheive

      So what does a FTTH achieve in Minimum speeds? If something is lower than that using FTTN would it be that bad? What would be the cost-benefit analysis of both scenarios? I want to know the answers to these questions before I chose one over the other. As far as I feel, FTTN is a more cost-effective way of providing fast broadband than FTTN. But then what would I know? Its only my taxes that are getting used.
      Kunal Nanda
      • CBA is subjective....

        FTTH archives speeds anywhere from 12/1 to 100/40 and 1Gbps/400 in 2014.

        A CBA would mean a delay, it would also mean costs for both the project and us Tax payers to do the CBA.

        A CBA would only benifit one side, that would be the Coalition.

        ACCC (Current chairman at the time) previously stated that CBA is unnecessary.

        It's not being paid by your Taxes, the Coalition plan will though.

        Here is how NBN is being funded.

        1. Goverment Bonds will pay for NBN.
        2. Telstra/Optus transfers customers from current infrastructure to NBN.
        3. Your monthly bill will pay partly of the "loan" off.
        4. You get benefit of high speed internet and rid of Telstra monopoly forever.
        5. We all benefit.
        • CBA

          A CBA would only benefit the Coalition if it proved that the NBN was not economically justified. If it is as wonderful as its supporters claim, a CBA would prove that and put the doubters in their place.

          There was plenty of time to do a CBA in the lead up to the project (I can't believe it is nearly 4 years old) so what were people worrying about? What were they afraid it would show?
      • Kunal

        How about at least have a basic understanding of what you are talking about before commenting?
        "But then what would I know?:
        F**k all by the sounds of it.
        • be fair

          The average person doesn't expect politicians to repeatedly and knowingly tell demonstrable lies, so if they don't understand the technology they just assume there must be some truth to the LNP's bullshit.

          But there isn't. It's the mainstream media's fault that people believe the LNP's lies, because they don't call them on it. Even the ABC doesn't call them on it most of the time!
          • Thanks Karl

            Yes, I will try to be nice :) Years of seeing these lies regurgitated over and over, usually by the same people with different aliases. Surely these people have brains and can research some things?
            Is this what Australia is becoming? A country full of morons regurgitating whatever the MSM tells them to say? Treating the future of our country like rabid soccer fans supporting their chosen Messiah?
            Don't people look in to things before they make up their minds? Are we sunk so far that people need to get told what to think and they stick to it like a religion even when it's so obvious they are being lied to?
            Maybe it's a good thing global warming is happening. Maybe a new species will evolve with a bit more intelligence than seems to evident in the general public these days.
          • you have issues

            Take a pill Pil. Its all ok, you will be able to play COD with your boy friend later.
          • Wow...

            What a reasoned, educated and intelligent response... NOT :/