Monday, April 8, 2013

Coalition to release NBN policy as early as tomorrow

By Business editor Peter Ryan

Business groups have raised concerns about a potential cost blowout on the National Broadband Network ahead of the release of the Coalition's broadband policy.

A leak of the Coalition broadband policy in News Limited newspapers says that document finds the final price tag of the NBN could exceed $90 billion.

The Daily Telegraph Mon April 8, 2013
The Australian Industry Group says if that figure is correct it is very alarming.

AI Group chief executive Innes Willox has told AM he wants the government to provide a genuine cost-benefit analysis of the NBN.

"There are those who argue the government has been fairly transparent on costs all the way through, but a rigorous cost benefit analysis that would be done while the rollout continues, that can do no harm, it can only instil further public confidence in the rollout," he said.

However, the Federal Government has dismissed the leaked figure, saying it is scare mongering.

"The corporate plan, audited by the Auditor-General, is produced each year, and what you're seeing in that corporate plan is $37.4 billion is the cost of building the NBN - not, as today the Coalition is claiming, $90 billion," the Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told AM.

Innes Willox says business just wants high speed broadband to be built quickly and cost-effectively, and a cost-benefit analysis would assist in ensuring the project is on track to deliver on its promises.

"We believe the NBN, or a high-speed rollout of broadband, is very important to our future, but we don't want to get the productivity argument lost in the debate about costing. We believe it's very important as a productivity enabler and driver in Australia," he said.

"We're not particularly fussed about whether it's fibre to the home or fibre to the node, as long it's a good product, rolled out expeditiously, that business can utilise as well as the broader community."

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