Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:29

$5.6B NBN black hole - submit Government NBN costings to Treasury demands Coalition


An apparent $5.6 billion funding shortfall in the Government's NBN budget has prompted calls by the Opposition for a full Treasury analysis of the costings. A spokesman for Shadow Minister for Finance and Debt Reduction Andrew Robb told iTWire that the Parliamentary Library, which yesterday revealed the Government's NBN budget anomaly, had done an admirable job.

Yesterday afternoon, Brian Dalzell from the Parliamentary Library economics section released a report which found that only $16.842 billion had been allocated by the Labor Government for NBN over the next five years, almost $5.6 billion short of the $22.4 billion estimated for that period by Government's own $25 million implementation study.

The Coalition Opposition has siezed upon the shortfall saying it is evidence that Government is recklessly flying by the seat of its pants economically.

'Considering the planned $43 billion expenditure on the NBN - and perhaps more - we call on the Treasurer to urgently submit the proposal to Treasury for a full costing,' a spokesman for Mr Robb told iTWire.

'We think this problem has been highlighted by the fact there is no real business plan for the proposal, no cost benefit analysis.

'It really illustrates that the whole thing has been cobbled together quite recklessly.'

The Government also targeted Prime Minister Gillard, claiming she is ignorant of the details  concerning the structure of the NBN and its costings.

'Even today Julia Gillard was asked about specifics of the network in relation to how many households will be connected in the next term of the Gillard Government should they be elected and she had no idea,' the spokesman told iTWire.

'She was asked about what customers would have to pay to access the service and she had no idea.

'Considering the expenditure and now the new doubt that has been raised about the Government's financing (of the NBN) it should be submitted for a full and thorough costing by Treasury which to this point in time the Government has refused to do.'

Responding to claims of the funding shortfall, representatives of the Labor Government today questioned the validity of the Parliamentary Library report and criticised the accuracy of its findings.

However, Mr Robb's office dismissed the criticisms and repeated the call for full Treasury analysis of the Government's NBN costings.

'We would expect the Parliamentary Library to do extremely thorough and accurate work,' Mr Robb's spokesman told iTWire.

'In this particular instance, they've done an admirable job in trying to piece together all the various financial pieces of the puzzle.

'The thing is that the Government has put so little information out there as to how the Government is going to pay for the thing, the Parliamentary Library has faced quite a difficult job in doing that.'


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Stan Beer

Stan Beer has been involved with the IT industry for 39 years and has worked as a senior journalist and editor at most of the major media publications, including The Australian, Australian Financial Review, The Age, SMH, BRW, and a number of IT trade journals. He co-founded iTWire in 2004, where he was editor in chief until 2016. Today, Stan consults with iTWire News Site /Website administration, advertising scheduling, news editorial posts. In 2016 Stan was presented with a Kester Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Australian IT journalism.

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