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Tuesday, 14 September 2010 16:34

Turnbull to fight NBN 'icon of waste'


Former Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull has returned to the Coalition front bench as shadow communications minister with instructions "to hold the Government ferociously to account" over the National Broadband Network.

Coalition leader Tony Abbott, who deposed Mr Turnbull less than 12 months ago said the Government was "fundamentally incompetent" at delivering services and that the NBN would become an "icon of waste" as a result.

Mr Abbott said holding the Government to account for the construction of the $43 billion network would be one of the Opposition's most important tasks for the new Parliament and Mr Turnbull was the best credentialed to perform that role.

In returning to the Coalition frontbench, Mr Turnbull is one of the big winners in the new Abbott shadow ministry.

"Who better to hold the Government to account here than Malcolm Turnbull, who is restored to the Opposition front bench as shadow minister for communications, and who has the technical expertise and the business experience to entirely demolish the Government on this issue," Mr Abbott said.

Former communications spokesman Tony Smith, who had been widely criticised as ineffective during the election campaign, has been demoted. He becomes Parliamentary Secretary for Tax Reform outside of the shadow ministry.

Mr Abbott said the National Broadband Network would be a critical issue of the new Parliament.

"We can also be certain this Government will remain fundamentally incompetent at delivering services. In particular the National Broadband Network, or nationalised broadband network is going to become an icon of waste and incompetence," Mr Abbott said.

"I have already described it as school halls on steroids and we can be certain that the National Broadband Network will be to this term of Government what pink batts and school halls were to the last term of Government."

"It is a complete waste to spend $5,000 per household delivering an information superhighway beside every dirt track in this country whether people need it, want it or can afford it."

In the economic portfolios, Mr Abbott retained his faith in the existing team, with Joe Hockey as shadow Treasurer and Andrew Robb as Finance shadow.

Julie Bishop retained the deputy leader's job and Foreign Affairs portfolio.

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