Mitch Fifield needs to clarify this week whether the timing of his broadband tax is simply a disingenuous ploy to prop up the NBN Corporate Plan.
A review of events shows the legislation has been conspicuously delayed for nearly two years:
- 12 December 2016 – draft legislation released with the Minister stating he wants implementation by 1 July 2017.
- 22 June 2017 – legislation introduced into Parliament with implementation delayed until 1 July 2018.
- 9 May 2018 – brought on for debate in the House of Representatives a staggering 321 days after being introduced into Parliament.
- 13 August 2018 – brought on for debate in the Senate with the implementation date further delayed until 1 July 2019.
However, the upcoming NBN Corporate Plan might offer a clue as to why the dysfunctional Turnbull Government is in a sudden rush to pass its $7.10 per month internet tax.
It’s because NBNCo is required to release its pre-election Corporate Plan before the end of August 2018.
The Corporate Plan will contain forecasts out to FY2022, but it will not disclose the assumptions that underpin financial forecasts beyond that year.
If the Turnbull Government passes its internet tax in August 2018, not only would the price increases come into effect in the next term of Parliament, but it would permit the Government, in this term of Parliament, to add the revenue from this internet tax into the NBN corporate plan from 2022 out to the year 2040.
If the legislation does not pass the Parliament in August 2018, that is no longer possible.
Should the legislation conveniently pass the Senate this week we will have learned two things about the Minister:
- His motivation was not about serving the broadband needs regional Australia, but rather the pre-election NBN Corporate Plan.
- He does not believe in his own policy — and that is why the Government delayed implementation of price increases until after the next election.
All of this is being driven by a simple reality – Turnbull’s second-rate NBN is $20 billion over budget and 4 years behind schedule. It costs more and does less.