Public will get time to scrutinise NBN policy: Turnbull


Public will get time to scrutinise NBN policy: Turnbull

Date March 15, 2013 – 10:07AM 15 reading now

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Tim Lester

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Turnbull defies policy silence

Malcolm Turnbull promises to release the Coalition’s alternative NBN plan “months” before the election, bucking the opposition trend of staying mum on pre-election policy detail.
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Malcolm Turnbull has promised to release the Coalition’s plans for a national broadband network ”months” before the September 14 election to allow for scrutiny of the policy and its costings.

The undertaking from the communications spokesman goes further than the usual opposition response to questions on when key election policies will be made public this year – which is to simply say ”in good time”.

”You can never criticise me for not providing a lot of detail,” Mr Turnbull said in an interview with Fairfax Media’s Breaking Politics.

”Australians will have more than adequate time to consider our policy and debate it.”


When asked whether this meant it would be released ”months” before the poll, he replied, ”definitely”.

Broadband and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has previously accused Mr Turnbull of having ”half-baked broadband thought bubbles” rather than a plan.

Renewed debate over the NBN comes as the Gillard government wrestles with the challenge of passing its planned changes to media laws by its deadline of next week.

Senator Conroy said on Friday that it was too early to say whether the bills would pass, despite concerns by key cross-bench MPs.

In an interview on ABC’s Radio National program, Senator Conroy said he was not surprised by the barrage of ”hysterical” attacks from media companies.

”The public interest test, for instance, which has been heavily attacked and criticised, akin to Stalinist Russia, akin to Fiji today, these are concepts that the United States have had for 80 years and the UK has had for many many years. These are not new concepts,” he said.
To view an extended version of the interview with Malcolm Turnbull, click here

In a Senate estimates hearing recently, NBN Co confirmed that they expected their broadband rollout to have passed 286,000 homes by June this year.

”The cost of this NBN, in reality, will shock people. If this NBN were to proceed with its construction on the basis of the government’s plan, it would be likely in my view, and it’s not an uninformed view, to take over 20 years to complete, and a hundred billion dollars,” Mr Turnbull said.

”This is the most reckless exercise in commonwealth investment . . . in our history. To embark on a project like this with no budget, no cost benefit analysis. They have never said there is a limit to what you can spend.”

Mr Turnbull also said he doubted anything in the Coalition plan would surprise people.

”We will speed up the roll out. We will deliver the completion of the NBN sooner and at less cost to the Commonwealth and therefore of course, it will be more affordable to users,” he said.

with Daniel Hurst

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