Turnbull's NBN policy 'detailed enough' to escape costing

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Turnbull's NBN policy 'detailed enough' to escape costing
Turnbull and Opposition leader Tony Abbott at the launch of the Coalition's NBN policy.

Sees no value-add from independent financial analysis.

Opposition Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull believes the Coalition's NBN plan is detailed enough to warrant not pushing further for an independent assessment of costings and assumptions.

Turnbull told iTnews he had approached the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) to cost his party's alternative NBN plan before it was publicly announced on April 9.

But the PBO said it did not have the resources or expertise to cost the alternative NBN proposal in-house and would have had to outsource the work, which was seen as neither practical nor feasible.

Turnbull decided against pursuing the services of external financial consultants to perform an independent costing after being turned down by the PBO, believing it unnecessary.

“I don’t know that a lot could have been added [to our policy] by going through an independent costings exercise," he said.

"I think the assumptions speak for themselves. I don’t think there’s anything in what we’ve assumed that is unrealistic."

He said the Coalition had provided enough detail in its policy documentation that third parties, such as the media, could analyse it for themselves.

Turnbull told iTnews the Coalition had put forward what was likely the most detailed communications policy ever from an opposition party but Labor NBN supporters were still not satisfied.

“We’ve said if we get elected we’re going to do a bunch of things Labor hasn’t done," he said.

"We are going to do a rigorous analysis, we will get Infrastructure Australia to do an independent cost benefit analysis. That’s all set out in our policy.

"We’ve set it out in considerable detail.”

The PBO, established in July 2012, is the only government agency available to the Coalition for costings. 

The Coalition had submitted around 200 of its policies to the PBO for costing prior to the announcement of the September federal election, and was now having them re-costed, Opposition Treasurer Joe Hockey said yesterday.

The Coalition’s plan favours a fibre-to-the-node network over Labor’s fibre-to-the-premise rollout, and promises to connect 71 percent of Australian premises to an FTTN network and 22 percent of homes and businesses to FTTP at a cost of $20.4 billion by 2019. 

Labor’s NBN will cost $37.4 billion until 2021 and will offer a fibre connection to the premise for 93 percent of homes and businesses. 

Turnbull has recently indicated the Coalition would consider rolling out more FTTP "if the price is right"

Communications Minister Anthony Albanese this week on Lateline said financial services firm KMPG had audited NBN Co's corporate plan in 2010 and found "in terms of the timelines and the costings, that all the assumptions were good."

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