NBN switch without analysis about 'getting on with it': Turnbull

NBN switch without analysis about 'getting on with it': Turnbull

Summary: Despite years of slamming Labor for the same sin, the government's decision to proceed with a multi-technology mix version of the National Broadband Network without a cost-benefit analysis into the project being completed will allow NBN Co to get on with the job, according to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.


Directing NBN Co to switch from Labor's model for fibre to the premises to the Coalition's proposed multi-technology mix without first awaiting the results of a cost-benefit analysis will allow NBN Co to get on with its job, according to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In his time in opposition as communications spokesperson, Turnbull derided the then-Labor government repeatedly for failing to complete a cost-benefit analysis prior to embarking on its AU$37.5 billion fibre-to-the-premises project.

After returning to government in September last year, Turnbull committed to conducting a cost-benefit analysis into broadband in Australia, and appointed Michael Vertigan and a number of other experts to conduct the analysis with a report due back to government in June.

Turnbull left the door open that if the report finds that the benefits of fibre to the premises balanced the costs of such an endeavour, the government would consider keeping the existing model.

But it appears the government will proceed with its own version of the NBN without waiting for the analysis.

Since September NBN Co has continued its existing work on the fibre to the premises rollout, but in a new statement of expectations released today, ahead of the Vertigan panel's report, Turnbull directed NBN Co to commence work on a multi-technology mix model that will allow NBN Co to deliver at least 25Mbps downloads to all Australians with a maximum of government investment of AU$29.5 billion.

Despite years of sledging Labor over its decision not to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before proceeding with the NBN, the decision to proceed with his preferred model for the NBN despite the cost-benefit analysis not being completed was prudent, Turnbull said, adding that the statement could be changed down the track.

"The company has got to get on. It doesn't mean there won't be a change to it. There have been a number of statement of expectations already," he told journalists at the CommsDay Summit in Sydney today.

"The key point is you have the freedom to use the mix of technologies that suits the particular locations.

"The whole purpose of renegotiations with Telstra is we want to put NBN Co in the same position and flexibility and optionality it would do if it was the incumbent, instead of being locked into one very slow, and very expensive technology."

Under the new statement of expectations, NBN Co will now be able to determine, area by area, the most cost-effective technology to meet the minimum speed requirements for the NBN.

Prior to the election, the Coalition promised that all Australians would have access to 25Mbps download speeds by the end of 2016, and 90 percent would have access to 50Mbps down by the end of 2019.

In the statement of expectations, the timing for delivering on these promises is removed completely, except to say that 50Mbps should be delivered "as soon as possible".

In a speech at CommsDay Summit this morning, Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare said that Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Turnbull should be held to account for breaking this promise.

"The government announced it was breaking [its promise] just before Christmas — the day after Holden announced it was pulling out of Australia," he said

"This is a serious breach of faith. The people of Australia might not have liked their NBN plan, but they were told they would get it by 2016. They won the election and then broke their word. And they should wear the consequences of that at the next election."

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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  • Oh what a wicked web we weave...
    People who based an election campaign on demanding 'essential' NBN cost benefit analysis, and who, now in power, blithely dismiss the need for scrutiny of their plan to dump a best practice comms network and replace it with a rag-tag collection of outdated technology, should not be surprised if some people suggest they may be cheats and liars.
    • Even with

      Their blatantly fudged NBN review by Malcolm's mates and their CBA by their mates with that Ergas character who couldn't get hard headed practical businessmen to pay for his advice showing the worth of any analysis he does (But News Ltd will pay him to regurgitate his biased B.S) and all the other reports.
      Abel Adamski
  • Little benefit, Plenty of Costs.

    Despite an endless series of reports set up to achieve preordained outcomes, Turnbull still can't spin any reasonably credible CBA results to validate his "Faster & Cheaper' dog's breakfast of a broadband network.

    We've finally achieved Murdoch's & Tony's objectives in demolishing the NBN so now we'll just ignore & obfuscate the costs & waste. (we don't even need a napkin) Let's all just aimlessly "get on with" whatever? inspires us on the day & perhaps something will eventually happen.
    • Don't forget

      Ruperts media and the AFR will dprout on and whitewash copiously to deceive Australia how wonderful it all is - any issues are all Labor or Conroy's fault.

      Watch and wait, I have built up a massive library of misleading, biased and some straight out lying or at the least extremely selective reporting by News Ltd and AFR. Ain't PDF wonnerfull, I have noted items being edited several days after first appearance which is where 99% will have read and formed their opinions, the PDF's of both versions capture that sleazy cover up behaviour. All evidence for the Royal Commission in the future.
      Abel Adamski
  • O Rly?

    He's been duped by Rupe.
  • I wonder

    If this will in years to come, considering it is about a Nations Essential National Infrastructure for the future, be considered as Treason
    Abel Adamski
  • never trust a merchant banker...

    ... with anything except someone else's money ...
  • Just leaving it alone would have allowed us to just get on with it. Cnuts!!

    Couldn;t we have just gotten on with it by adopting Labor's plan?
    Oh no, now we abandon what at least would have been a known good tech, effectively for the sake of spiting labor.
    If we don't know that there are benefits to a change, then changing is insane.
    we may well - almost certainly will, IMO - be worse of in terms of tech, delivery times and in the end govt capital cost and consume recurring cost.

    Next they'll be ripping up Labor bitumen and putting in dirt roads....

    Well I guess MPs get taxpayer funded fast 'net to their office - probably delivered over fibre.
  • People need to communicate with Malcolm

    If people want their voices to be heard by politicians like Malcolm Turnbull then they need a platform through which to unify their voices. This involves not only debate and discussion over what politicians should and shouldn't do, but also finding agreement on what people want to know on topics such as policy and a method of directly asking it of them and continuing to ask until a genuine answer is given. The Real Questions organisation is one group trying to create such a system, and we'd be very interested in hearing people's opinions and input if they'd like to speak directly to people like Malcolm Turnbull. Visit us at www.realquestions.net.au
    Real Questions