Turnbull blasts NBN waste, internet filter

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Turnbull blasts NBN waste, internet filter

Shadow comms minister predicts "massive destruction of wealth".

Freshly minted federal shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has criticised the Federal Government over its NBN investment, likening it to the '90s subsea cable boom that led to a "massive destruction of wealth".

In his first interview since being appointed to the shadow ministry this afternoon, Turnbull told ABC Radio's PM program that a public company would not be able to get away with a proposal of the NBN's magnitude without a "financial analysis or business case".

"Big fortunes have been [won and] lost - I've seen both sides of the coin," Turnbull said.

"In the late '90s, possibly hundreds of billions of dollars were spent on subsea cables, essentially broadband capacity, around the world. It was a classic case of built-it-and-they-will-come.

"All of those sold for cents in the dollar. We're certainly using them [now] but there was a massive destruction of wealth [that resulted from them being built]."

Turnbull described himself as a "notorious internet junkie" who was "very committed" to its growth in Australia.

"But I'm also committed to not wasting tens of billions of dollars," he said.

"Where is the financial analysis? Where is the business plan that would justify this investment?"

He said the lack of data presented by the Government to its "shareholders" - the taxpayers - was "simply wrong" and an "affront to democracy".

"There is a huge opportunity cost [associated with this project]," Turnbull said.

"Every billion [dollars] wasted on this project is money that cannot be spent on education, hospitals, roads. Take your pick.

"Taxpayers' money is a finite resource. You have to use it in an intelligent way.

"What Labor is doing wouldn't be feasible for a public company [to do]."

Turnbull predicted a return on the NBN that was "pathetically low, positively anemic".

"In my judgement we will end up with an asset valued at a half or quarter [of $43 billion]," he said.

Turnbull maintained that the Coalition's broadband policy was "superior to the NBN" but acknowledged it would be "reviewed".

"Whether we sold it or effectively explained it, I'll let others form a judgement on," Turnbull said.

And he voiced his opposition to Labor's internet filter policy and called on the Government to "dump it".

"I'm absolutely and utterly opposed to it, as is the Coalition," he said.

"It's a really bad idea from every respect. I have nothing good to say about the filter and the best the Government can do is drop it."

The comments came on the back of a blog post by Turnbull accepting his elevated role and blasting the Government over plans to rejig the NBN rollout.

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