$36bn NBN was developed by Labor “on the run” by ‘Moses’ figure Kevin Rudd.

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That’s according to a paper released today by the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) that claims the National Broadband Network was developed in haste by a ‘Moses’ style figure in the form of Labor leader Kevin Rudd.

“Kevin’s style was to lock himself in a cave and put in all the evidence and then emerge as Moses from the mountain with the tablets to tell the people what they would get,” President of IPAA, Percy Allan AM told the Herald.

The Institute, who released its discussion paper on major public policy yesterday, found it “adrift with insufficient major government decisions” and identified 10 major policy failures including NBN, free set-top box for pensioners, home insulation grant and alcopops tax.

Why? Because they are using an ‘evidence and consultation-based’ approach rather than a ‘business case’ for developing major policy- while costing taxpayers millions.

The NBN announced in haste in 2007 as a pre-election promise by Labor’s star child Kevin Rudd is set to cost the public purse $36 bn and there are rumours this could stretch to $50 bn, although this has been vehemently denied by the government.

“The evidence suggests that these policies were developed on the run without adequate research and community consultation,” the paper warns.

Only some were a response to a “demonstrable” need, involved alternatives, or even had some sort of a policy framework prior to implementation.

“We believe that if governments used a ‘business case’ approach to devising, testing and communicating policies rather than resort to policy outbursts preceded by secrecy, the outcome would not only be better policy, but better politics,” Allan said in a statement.

The Wiltshire ‘business case’ approach means establishing facts, identifying alternatives, weighing up their pros and cons, sharing those findings with the public and getting its reaction and so on.

The choices for high speed broadband “might be to spend $36 billion ripping out copper wire and disconnecting Foxtel cables and starting afresh, which is the proposition we are facing. But had they examined the need, examined options and consulted they might have discovered cheaper ways to fill the need,” Allen told the Herald.

Just last week the NBN’s 3 year plan was unveiled and will hit 3.5 million premises with high speed fibre broadband by 2015, despite opposition by the Liberal government although it has the support of the telcos.

“The alternative approaches of making policy on the run and policy by fiat, and then overselling them through spin-doctoring are usually a recipe for failure both for the politician and the citizen,” IPAA President warns.

However, 10 policies failed the Wiltshire criteria test including NBN – National Broadband Network, Alcopops Tax, Building the Education Revolution, FuelWatch, Green Car Innovation Fund, Green Loans Program, Home InsulationSet Top Boxes for Pensioners.


Of the 18 policies analysed by the IPAA, 10 failed the Wiltshire test and only three of the remainder met all or almost all of the ten Wiltshire criteria.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Labor.

Three policy successes include National Disability Strategy, the Resources Super Profits Tax (mining tax) and the Carbon Tax – although “insufficient initial consultation marred the mining tax and the lack of an electoral mandate blemished the carbon tax,” Mr Allan said.

The Wiltshire ‘business case’, devised by Professor Ken Wiltshire AO of the University of Queensland, 10 criteria includes:  establish need, set objectives, identify options, brainstorm alternatives, consult further, publish proposals.

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