"Liberals not up to speed with NBN" - The Mercury

Documents kept secret till this week reveal the cost of key elements of the Liberals’ National Broadband Network to be three times higher than what they told Australians.

The Liberals said they would deliver a “multi-technology mix” NBN for $29.5 billion, compared to Labor’s full-fibre $53b version. Now, it turns out the Liberals’ version has so far cost $57 billion.

If the Liberals had kept Labor’s original NBN they would have saved money and delivered a better service.

But the Liberals have managed to spend more to deliver an NBN that does less.

And yet we keep being told the Liberals are “better economic managers”.

For years the Liberals have been desperate to keep the truth of this scandal from the public.

FOI requests have been knocked back and officials have refused to answer questions. Now, the documents reveal:

            •           rolling out copper has cost three times more than originally forecast;

            •           the copper-based fibre-to-the-node rollout cost $2330 per premises, nearly four times more than the $650 the Liberals claimed;

            •           using pay-TV cables to deliver the “multi-technology mix” cost $2752 per premises, more than three times the $850 the Liberals claimed;

            •           Liberal analysis in 2013 costed building full-fibre networks at $4,777 per premises despite recent NZ reports estimating a full-fibre build at $2,598;

The Liberals want us to forget about this multi-billion-dollar scandal. They just want us to move on, but that’s not good enough. Australians have a right to be angry at the lies and the mistakes.

Labor warned the Liberals they were making a huge mistake, and we were right. This expensive mess should never have happened.

After eight years of Liberal government the NBN is slower than it should be, areas still aren’t serviced, there are towns on satellite that should be on fixed wireless and suburbs on fixed wireless that should be on fibre.

The Liberals have made a mess of the NBN and our economy is paying the price as we scramble to catch up with international competitors that have invested properly in fibre-based broadband and which are now rocketing ahead.

There is a consistent theme here.

The Liberals have gutted university research funding. They think electric vehicles are a joke. Climate action isn’t taken seriously. They’ve chased away our sovereign manufacturing capabilities.

Australia’s tech sector is going backwards under the Liberals. We used to be a world leader in technology and science but we are now at the back of the pack.

The Glasgow climate action conference last week rated Australia dead last out of 60 countries for climate action. Dead last.

Whether it’s building national quarantine, securing vaccines on time, funding public housing, caring for older Australians, training apprentices or providing broadband, the only thing you can count on Scott Morrison to deliver is failure.

Brian Mitchell is the federal Labor Member for Lyons and is a member of the federal parliament’s Joint Standing NBN Committee.

This editorial first appeared in The Mercury on Saturday 13 November '21 and subsequently appeared in The Examiner and The Advocate