New documents reveal just how far the Turnbull Government will go to suppress information about the faltering economics of their second-rate copper National Broadband Network.
Responses to Labor questions on notice at recent Senate Estimates hearings show that NBNCo has increased its corporate affairs and public relations staff to 46, up from 17 just three years ago. But despite all these resources and the scrutiny of a Senate Committee, NBNCo still refuses to answer basic questions about costs and its decision-making about technology choices.
Clearly the Turnbull Government thinks it can spin its way out of significant problems with the rollout of the NBN.
As residents of the NSW Central Coast demonstrated on 7.30 last night, the Turnbull Government can spend as much as it likes on public relations - but this won’t change the fact that far too many Australians are enduring unacceptable connection delays and faults, slow data speeds, unusable services and drop-outs. Consumers simply aren’t getting what they paid for and that’s just not right.
Too many Australians are having their problems buck-passed between NBNCo and their retail service provider when something goes wrong. No wonder they are fed up and complaints about the NBN have increased by almost 150%. No amount of spin by Malcolm Turnbull can distract from these frustrating facts.
It’s also unfathomable that NBNCo cannot answer basic questions about its operating expenditure for different access networks, or why it took three years to ditch the Optus HFC network.
This a deliberate tactic by the Turnbull Government to stifle scrutiny about the long-term viability of the copper network it is foolishly relying on to rollout its second-rate NBN.
Even more breathtaking was the spectacle of the NBNCo Chairman, Ziggy Switkowski, alleging to have no recollection of key assumptions underpinning the NBN Strategic Review, which he spearheaded.
The 2013 Strategic Review orchestrated political cover for Malcolm Turnbull to impose his second-rate copper solution on over five million households. To this day, the Government refuses to release an unredacted version of the Strategic Review out of fear it will embarrass the Prime Minister even further.
NBNCo also refused to reveal the cost of travel, accommodation or office expenses for Chairman Ziggy Switkowski, claiming this this to be an “unreasonable diversion of resources.” Yet these are questions that Ministers and even the Governor-General routinely answer.
What is so unique about the Chairman of NBNCo that he cannot be held to account like everyone else?
This ongoing lack of transparency from NBNCo is worrying and is far from what Malcolm Turnbull promised before the 2013 election.
By failing to secure private debt funding, the Turnbull Government has also increased the exposure of taxpayers to the NBN. The public deserves answers to straightforward questions about the rollout the nation’s largest ever infrastructure project.
Since it was elected the Abbott-Turnbull Government has repeatedly broken its promises on the NBN. Faster, sooner, more affordable? Fail, fail, fail.
The cost of Malcom Turnbull’s second-rate NBN has blown out from $29.5 billion to $54 billion. There’s no way the project will meet his promised timeline for every Australian to have access by 2016, and at the end of it Australians will be left with a slower, second rate copper-based NBN.
The NBN is just another case of all talk and no delivery from Malcolm Turnbull.