Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity
Abbott calls the shots on broadband
Minister for Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today said that Australians should ignore Malcolm Turnbull and instead look to Tony Abbott to understand the Coalition's plans for broadband.
'Over the last ten months, the Opposition Spokesman, Mr Turnbull, has delivered 20 speeches, issued 36 media releases, and sent 1,341 tweets, but still has not released a broadband policy,' Senator Conroy said.
'This month he stopped talking about any Coalition plan and instead devoted himself to denigrating the professionalism of the NBN Co Board and management.1
'While Mr Turnbull professes a commitment to fast broadband,2 Tony Abbott does not.
'While Mr Turnbull has now acknowledged that the investment in the NBN is not part of the budget expenditure3, Tony Abbott does not.
'While Mr Turnbull has said the Coalition will roll out a broadband network,4 Tony Abbott does not support him.
'In just the last two weeks Mr Abbott has again labelled the NBN an 'unnecessary white elephant'; he has said that he would 'pause' the NBN to make budget savings;5 and he has stated that he will simply rely on the 'competitive market'.6
'It is time Mr Turnbull cleared up the confusion by admitting the Coalition will not build the NBN and that everything he has said for the last year is a sham.'
Date: 1 November 2012
Contact: Adam Sims 0408 258 457
Policy questions for Mr Turnbull.
- Has Mr Turnbull presented his proposal to 'complete the national broadband network' to Tony Abbott and the shadow cabinet?
- Have Tony Abbott and the shadow cabinet endorsed Mr Turnbull's plan?
- Has Mr Turnbull provided any estimate to Tony Abbott and his colleagues on the budget consequences of his plan?,
- Has Mr Turnbull provided any estimate to Tony Abbott and his colleagues of the budget consequences of stopping or pausing the roll-out of the NBN?
- Is Mr Turnbull really going to buy back the deteriorating copper network and its expensive maintenance costs? Will he also buy the Telstra ducts? Does he stand by his media release of 17 May 2011 that acquiring use of the copper would be 'more billions out the door'?
1 On 24 September iTnews reported that Mr Turnbull said 'Personally I don't think he was the right choice of the job' adding 'I think getting some new management there is going to be absolutely critical' http://www.itnews.com.au/News/316706,turnbull-attacks-quigley-over-nbn-management.aspx
On 9 October Mr Turnbull criticised the expertise of NBN Co 'Two weeks ago I was accused of and I quote, 'slandering' Michael Quigley by expressing the opinion that, fine executive though he may be, he was not the right choice for NBN Co because he hadn't previously managed either the deployment or day-to-day operation of a telecommunications network.
'Mr Quigley has not worked for a telecommunications carrier. He hasn't ever been responsible for a network rollout, or an operating telecommunications business. Nor as it happens have any of the current Directors of NBN Co – there, we have five former bankers, two former McKinsey consultants, two former equipment vendors, but no former telecom executives.'
On 3 October Senator Conroy called on Mr Hockey and Mr Turnbull to apologise to the Board and management of NBN Co for effectively claiming they were misrepresenting the cost of the NBN http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/media/media_releases/2012/154
2 'Nobody is more committed to availability of high speed Internet access than me.' Malcolm Turnbull, 14 September 2010, http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/holding-labor-to-account-on-broadband/; 'The Coalition remains committed to a broadband policy which will deliver all Australians very fast broadband.' Malcolm Turnbull, 23 October 2012 http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/response-to-former-accc-chairman-graeme-samuel/
3 'Under the accounting rules the expenditure on the NBN does not count towards the budget outcome – so much deficit or surplus.' http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/blogs/malcolms-blog/a-response-to-the-technology-spectator/
4 As reported in the SMH on 29 June 2012 'Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband Malcolm Turnbull told IT Pro firmly this week: "No, the Coalition will not cancel or roll back the NBN. The NBN will continue to roll out but we will do so in a cost-effective manner in particular in built-up areas." http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/government-it/we-will-not-cancel-the-nbn-turnbull-20120629-217f3.html
On 21 August 2012 on ABC Lateline Mr Turnbull said 'Well our broadband policy is to complete the national broadband network, but to do so sooner, cheaper' http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2012/s3572973.htm
5 'If we can pause with unnecessary white elephants such as the National Broadband Network, I am confident we can make the savings that will be needed' Swan opens with cuts of $20bn The Australian 22 October 2012.
6 'Government spending will come down because we will end Labor's waste, we won't throw good money after bad on the NBN when faster broadband can more affordably and more swiftly be delivered through a competitive market.' So-called surplus cannot survive on spin alone Tony Abbott Australian Financial Review 29 October 2012