Minister for Broadband blasts political foe as “lazy, financially illiterate, or both”
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|The Hon Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Conroy, in happier times.|
Senator Stephen Conroy has come out fighting today, declaring Shadow Communications minister, MP Malcolm Turnbull, has ‘once again’ misled the public, with claims the National Broadband Network (NBN) has witnessed a $400m “blowout” after the recent budget.
“Mr Turnbull has manufactured claims of a ‘blowout’ and a ‘fiddle’ in the budget treatment of the National Broadband Network,” Senator Conroy said today.
And in a startling attack on the Liberal MP for East Sydney, Conroy added: “Mr Turnbull is either lazy, financially illiterate, or both.”
Turnbull claimed figures for NBN revealed in the latest Budget, announced Tuesday, show the cost of NBN has risen over $400m compared to last year.
“As a former merchant banker, Mr Turnbull presumably knows that you pay your bills when they fall due,” Conroy continued.
“The $450 million additional Departmental expenditure in 2011-12 is the payments made to Telstra under the terms of the Definitive Agreements.These agreements came into force on 7 March last.”
There is “nothing new” about the payments (set to total $11 bn across several years) to Telstra nor can they be described as having been ‘brought forward,’ he added.
Turnbull, a vehement opposer to the $36bn high speed NBN and Labor’s pet project, latest claims are totally “false,” according to Conroy.
“Mr Turnbull’s assertion that there has been an increase in equity of $400M simply reflects that equity funding of $350M was deferred from 2011-12 to 2012-13. This was detailed in the 2011-12 Departmental Portfolio Additional Estimate Statement on page 39.”
“Mr Turnbull also continues to claim that the treatment of the equity injection into NBN Co by the Government should be expensed in the budget. This is completely wrong.”
The broadband fibre network currently being rolled out, is an investment in an asset from which the Government will receive a return, says the Broadband Minister and is classified as an ‘equity investment’ rather than a ‘budget expense.’
This practice is consistent with long-standing budget treatment applied by this and previous Governments, says Conroy.
Turnbull also attacked the numbers using NBN currently in a statement Tuesday, criticising the” “5000 or so customers currently using its fibre network, compared to the 137,000 projected by June 2012 in NBN Co’s corporate plan.”