The Government must establish a free, online university to justify spending $43 billion on its high-speed National Broadband Network (NBN), according to minor political party Family First.
Family First leader Senator Steve Fielding stated last week that if the NBN were to go ahead, a Government-backed free online university should be set up for Australian citizens.
"With the rollout of any NBN, it makes sense to offer free university courses online which can be done according to a person's individual schedule," Fielding said.
"University courses shouldn't have to be done during set times if we can store and download lectures at breakneck speeds?
"There is no reason why we can't offer free degrees and use the new NBN to do it," he said.
A spokesman for Fielding would not provide estimates of set-up and ongoing costs of such a online university, stating only that it would be "funded by the Government".
"There would be less demand for student assistance from things like HELP and youth allowance and these savings would then be put into funding the online uni," the spokesman told iTnews.
Fielding said he would be reluctant to support the NBN "without a proper business case".
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who leads the Government's NBN plan, is yet to respond to a request for comment on the proposal.