Prime Minister Julia Gillard has dismissed concerns over the cost of the $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) project, saying the cost should be "reverse engineered" to see the benefits the network would bring Australia.
Westpac CEO Gail Kelly, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Telstra chair Catherine Livingstone (Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)
In response to a question put to the PM at an Australian Israel Chamber of Commerce business leaders lunch in Sydney today on whether the money invested in the NBN would be better off going to hospitals, Gillard said that people should look at the benefits the technology would bring to the country.
"The question about cost needs to be reverse engineered. Can we afford not to have this technology when our competitors do?" Gillard said. "The nations in our region: Singapore, Korea, they are getting this technology. If we leave ourselves behind where does this leave our economy in such a competitive world?"
Gillard reiterated that the $43 billion cost model for the NBN is made up of both government and (hoped for) private sector investment. NBN Co will ultimately end up being the custodian of both lots of money.
"And the technology, we studied hard and we believe that it is future-proof, it will be the durable technology and will transform the way we do business, the way we deliver education, the way we deliver healthcare and so much more," she added.
Telstra chairperson Catherine Livingstone would not comment on the cost of the network, but said businesses should align themselves to begin taking advantage of what the network has to offer.
"Putting in fibre into the ground is just the first step. What we then need is quite a significant degree of investment by business in terms of products and services that can take advantage of the capability that is being put in. Those products and services is part of what Telstra will be doing," she said. "Small business in particular will benefit and will need to invest at the same time to get that capability."