Turnbull Warns Of NBN “Charade”: Costs Kept “Off The Books”

13 May

The black hole keeps getting bigger.

Labor continues its practice of fiddling the books, to cover up its economic mismanagement.

From Delimiter:

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has labelled the Federal Government’s continued approach of keeping the cost of building its flagship National Broadband Network project off the annual budget books a “charade”, in the wake of early take-up figures of the network’s services which the Coalition views as being less than expected.

In the budget papers released on Tuesday night, the Government provided further detail about how it would inject equity funding into the NBN project, allocating $18.2 billion in equity injections to NBN co over the proceeding years up until the 2014-15 financial year. The payments are instalments towards the Government’s total equity contribution to the NBN, which is expected to be $27.5 billion.

However, in a statement released tonight as part of the Coalition’s budget response, Turnbull said the Government had continued its “charade” in the budget papers of “keeping the entire cost of this needlessly expensive, excessively risky, anti-competitive project off the books”.

The Government, Turnbull said, assumed the NBN could be kept off-Budget because it would generate a commercial return, making the NBN worth not less than the cost of its initial investment.

“But eight months after the first sites were turned on in Tasmania, expectations of strong early revenues are looking overly optimistic,” the Member for Wentworth said, claiming that only eleven percent of households in Tasmania who had access to the NBN had signed up for services so far; less than predictions that 58 percent of households would by 2014-15 be purchasing services over the network and increasing their internet usage over today’s figures.

“The lacklustre performance metrics for the NBN so far bode ill for taxpayers,” Turnbull added. “The claim that the Government’s equity costs are limited to $27.5 billion (excluding $16 billion to be paid to Telstra) with the balance funded in debt is a very spurious one. There is no prospect of NBN being able to borrow on a no-recourse to the Government basis and so the NBN’s indebtedness will be just another category of Government debt. All of the NBN risk is with the Government.”

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