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Yet another Turnbull Government backflip on the NBN

18 Nov 2016


In what shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, Malcolm Turnbull has broken yet another promise when it comes to the delayed, overpriced and unreliable rollout of the NBN under the Coalition’s watch.

 

Today’s announcement that the Government will fund the NBN rollout through a loan flies in the face of everything it has been saying for the past three years.

 

When launching the Coalition’s broadband policy in 2013, Malcolm Turnbull said:

 

            “Well, what we are going to do is, we are going to invest the money up to the $29.5 billion.”

 

In the accompanying press release, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott stated:

            “Our plan will cost $29.5 billion. This will ensure the NBN is cash flow positive and can operate without assistance from government.”

 

Then in May this year under questioning at Senate Estimates, when asked if the Government was leaving open the possibility of more Government equity for NBN, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said:

 

“No. The equity cap that is in place is $29.5 billion, and our planning is for nbn to source the remaining funding requirements by raising debt from external markets. We have outlined that very clearly. We believe and are confident that that will be able to be achieved.

 

Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee 5 May 2016 (page 67)

 

And only a few days later, on 13 May 2016, when asked about the rollout cost Communications Minister Mitch Fifield responded:

 

“Well, the Commonwealth has indicated that our cap on equity contributions will be $29.5 billion. NBN will have to borrow money beyond that, but $29.5 billion is the Commonwealth cap.”

 

What was the Government trying to hide before the election? Why did it say one thing before the election and is now doing the opposite afterwards?

 

This development substantially increases the Commonwealth’s financial exposure to the NBN compared to its previously stated position - and is further evidence the Government is in absolute disarray.  

 

The Government has left many critical questions unanswered today. The Australian people deserve to know:

 

  • What has led Turnbull to backflip on this position?

 

  • What did NBN recommend to Government after receiving its credit rating?

 

  • Was the Government advised that private lenders were lacking confidence in the Coalition’s NBN and the long term liability of using copper?

 

  • What position did Finance and Treasury recommend to Cabinet?

 

Another day, another broken promise from the Turnbull Government.



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