According to Billson, the previous Coalition Government established the fund to address the telecommunications needs of rural, regional and remote Australia in perpetuity. The fund generates in the order of $400 million in interest every three to four years.
“[To raid the fund] defies sound public policy principles and will be opposed by the Coalition in the Senate,” Billson said. “Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wants to raid the fund, lock, stock and barrel, yet cannot even say what the money will be spent on, which is extraordinary. His vague national broadband proposal is unraveling at the seams, with genuine concerns it will end in a train wreck.”
Billson said Conroy remains "hell-bent" on spending $4.7 billion of taxpayers’ money regardless of the consequences for the Telco sector and consumers.
“Labor has so far failed to articulate any plan for how it will deliver high speed broadband to the people of rural, regional and remote Australia by the end of next year, as would have occurred under the OPEL project, which Senator Conroy scrapped without any alternative,” said Billson.
According to Billson, Dr Bill Glasson is currently conducting a review of regional telecommunications needs and Senator Conroy is promoting his work on one hand, but on the other hand is moving to strip the very funding stream that would give life to the review's recommendations.
Liberals to oppose Labor’s raid on communications fund
By Lilia Guan on May 2, 2008 4:17PM