Shadow communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has claimed that the 2012-13 budget, announced Tuesday night, has revealed that the price tag of the National Broadband Network (NBN) has jumped by as much as $400 million.
Turnbull said this was evident in the government's broadband spending which is forecast to hit $484 million in the 2012-13 Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) portfolio budget compared to $57 million in the 2011-12 DBCDE portfolio budget.
“The sum Australian taxpayers are being forced to invest in the National Broadband Network between July 2011 and June 2014 has apparently blown out by $400 million, even though the NBN is at least a year behind schedule in its rollout,” he said in a statement.
“Yet the network only has 5000 or so customers currently using its fibre network, compared to the 137,000 projected by June 2012 in NBN Co’s corporate plan.”
He attributed the increase to “inducements provided to Telstra for its deal with NBN Co have been brought forward as lump sums totalling $421 million to be paid out before June 30”.
As a result, Turnbull called on communications minister, Stephen Conroy, to release a revised version of NBN Co’s December 2010 corporate plan.
In addition, Turnbull criticised the government’s allocation of $20 million to the NBN to “improve public understanding, address misconceptions and provide updated information about the National Broadband Network”.
“Given NBN Co has already wasted so much money by hiring a vast public relations team and granting numerous contracts to PR and marketing consultants and other privileged insiders… Australians have every right to ask whether these funds will simply result in more pro-NBN propaganda,” Turnbull said.
“I would rate it worse than last year’s budget,” IIA chairman, Bruce Linn, told Computerworld Australia.
“This budget was clearly driven by the self-imposed need to create a surplus in 2012/13, which no one except the government believed was appropriate at this time.”
Linn also said that there was “not much” in the budget to help business and investment, saying that the budget was proof the government was not attuned to the needs of Australian businesses.
“[The budget] confirms that the government does not understand the pressures business is under and the general effect that is having on the non-mining economy,” he said.
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