In a speech to the press club today, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey announced that if the opposition comes into power, it will cease implementation of the NBN, and discontinue the government's e-health program. The opposition also plans to axe computers in schools funding, according to a document released today.
Liberal with its cost cutting (Credit: Australian Liberal Party)
"The Federal Government must not punt taxpayers' money on particular technology bets that may become expensive white elephants," said Hockey today referring to the National Broadband Network (NBN).
"Accordingly, we will not be proceeding with the National Broadband Network at a borrowing cost of at least $26 billion and an interest bill of around $2.4 billion over the forward estimates."
According to a savings document handed out to journalists at the press club as they were leaving, the axing of the NBN will save at least $18 billion, while cuts to the Digital Education Revolution will save $700 million over the next four years. However, the document claims that some of the programs savings "will be offset by lower cost and more effective Coalition programs".
Hockey justified culling e-health funding, claiming that it would not deliver what it has promised.
"The fundamental issue with the current e-health is this, the government hasn't even delivered on its e-health identifier by now!" he said, adding that an e-health identifier was "hugely" important to an e-health system.
The shadow treasurer also wanted to have guarantees that the e-health software would be compatible across states.
"Secondly, I want to see every state government sign up in blood that they aren't going to have different software programs that are incompatible when it comes to e-health records. Because you know what? I just don't believe them when they say they've got good intentions about harmonising the software that is going to be behind e-health records."
Hockey also called out the government for its "great damn hole" in e-health, claiming "every single dollar stops" after the initial two years of e-health funding.
The shadow treasurer did speak about the cuts in the digital education revolution that were outlined in the list of savings.
Hockey copped some flak for not releasing the list of proposed budget savings at the start of the press conference.
"I'm sorry if you think it's poor form, that you haven't got a list of savings at this exact moment, but before you walk out the door, you'll have them," said Hockey, claiming that it would distract people from the "structural issues", "economic policies" and "values" in his speech.
ZDNet Australia had not received an answer from Treasurer Wayne Swan to requests for comment at the time of writing. However, the ABC has quoted him as claiming it was further evidence that the Coalition is not equipped to run the country.
"Mr Abbott said earlier in the week you can only believe what he put in writing and today nothing in writing was supplied by Mr Hockey," Swan said to ABC News, claiming that the Opposition Leader Tony Abbot had passed the buck to Hockey.
"What this demonstrates is just what a big risk the Liberal Party is to our economy."