Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that he's just being honest when he attacks the $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) project, despite holding shares in a company that stands to benefit from the NBN.
The Sydney Morning Herald today reported that Turnbull holds $10 million in shares of web hosting and services company Melbourne IT. Turnbull's wife is also a director of the company. This investment drew criticism from Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese this morning.
"There's an old saying which is that you need to put your money where your mouth is," he said. "In this case, Mr Turnbull's money is heading in one direction backing the NBN, but his mouth is heading in another trying to destroy the NBN."
However Turnbull told Radio 2GB that the government was criticising him for his honesty.
"If the proposition is that that company would benefit from the establishment of the NBN, then I would have thought the fact that I am holding the NBN up to account and endeavouring to stop $43 billion being wasted would just show that I am a person of great integrity whose personal investments don't influence his public policy," he told Radio 2GB.
"[Albanese is] actually calling on me to act in a way that's dishonest. That is to say, to support something in the parliament simply because it would advance my interests," he said.
Turnbull said the allegation could be compared to making a similar allegation about Labor MPs with Telstra shares who are in favour of the $11 billion Heads of Agreement deal with NBN Co.
"I haven't stood up and said, 'They are only doing this because it will deliver $11 billion into Telstra's pockets'. I assume everyone's voting and arguing this case on its merits," he said. "And certainly, if you accept the proposition that Melbourne IT is likely to benefit from the NBN ... I am criticising the NBN and the way Labor's going about it day in, day out."
"And therefore, you would have to say they should be giving me a compliment for great integrity."