The government has unsurprisingly panned a highly critical report on the NBN, confirming it won’t mandate fibre-to-the-curb for the rest of the rollout nor commision an independent audit of the project.
The 210-page joint federal inquiry into the NBN was released in late September 2017 and painted an incredibly damaging picture of the project.
But the 23 findings it made were already on shaky ground, with all Liberal members of the joint committee indicating they were not onboard with the majority view.
The government has now backed those members up, all but ensuring little if anything will change as a result of the committee’s work.
The government was particularly critical of the report’s balance, claiming it focused too much on negative aspects of the rollout without “giving equal space to the NBN’s success stories”.
“The prominence given in the majority report of the committee to the stories of dissatisfied consumers distorts the perception of the success of the NBN,” the government said.
One of the committee’s key recommendations was that the remainder of the multi-technology mix (MTM) strategy be largely ditched, in favour of a mandated standard of fibre-to-the-curb or fibre-to-the-premises.
Given that would signal a capitulation back to Labor policy and call into question the Liberal government’s repeated assertions that full FTTP was and still is economically unviable, this was always going to be a tall order.
The government has formally panned the suggestion, and backed its own MTM strategy.
It said there was still “value in allowing the experts [at NBN Co] to use their discretion to choose the most appropriate technology” to achieve minimum connectivity standards set by the government.
The other major recommendation of the report was for an independent audit into “the long-term assumptions underpinning NBN Co’s financial projections and business case” set out in its latest corporate plan.
The government provided “in principle” support for this recommendation, but only “on the basis that existing activities are already in place”.
In other words, it will not commission any new audit because it believes its existing checks-and-balances provide the same utility an independent audit would.
The government did concede that some users were experiencing issues with the NBN; however, it pointed to changes announced just before Christmas that afforded greater powers to the ACMA and that force NBN Co to publish a dashboard to “make its operational performance more transparent”.