Prime Minister Julia Gillard should not compare the National Broadband Network (NBN) to the Snowy Mountains hydro scheme until the project is subjected to a similar amount of scrutiny, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said.
In the annual Light on the Hill speech delivered by the Prime Minister on Saturday, Gillard urged the new parliament to forge ahead with nation-building initiatives, comparing the $43 billion NBN project to the historic Snowy Mountains hydro scheme planned by former Labor Prime Minister Ben Chiefly in 1949.
"We can build the National Broadband Network as great a nation-building plan as the Snowy Hydro Scheme," Gillard said.
In a blog post, Turnbull said Gillard should refrain from comparing the two projects, as construction of the Snowy scheme did not commence until it was passed through parliament with the support of both sides of politics and after "rigorous analysis and public debate".
"Unlike the NBN, the Snowy scheme was preceded by lengthy and detailed public discussion and debate. A joint Commonwealth and State Snowy River Committee was established to investigate the financial viability of the proposal," Turnbull said. "The process took several years and produced a number of reports. The cost of the project was thoroughly analysed as were the benefits to electricity generation and irrigation."
Turnbull reiterated his calls for a cost-benefit analysis of the project.
"So the question for Julia Gillard is this: if the Snowy Mountains scheme is to be benchmark for national infrastructure, why is her so-called 21st century equivalent proceeding without any of the analysis that preceded the Snowy scheme?"