How A $19 Digital STB Becomes $698 When Installed By Federal Labour Government

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If you or I want to buy a digital set top box the cost could easily be under $49, but when the Labour Federal Government go out and buy thousands of the devices, they mysteriously cost $698 a box to connect.

According to the Australian newspaper every set-top box delivered under Labour’s digital TV rollout could be costing the taxpayer an average of $698 — almost double the government’s original estimate and more than 30 times the cost of a box bought from the likes of JB hi Fi.

They are even dearer than a Full HD 40″ TV which can be purchased for $399 from almost any consumer electronics retailer.

A digital set top box can be purchased for as cheap as $21 while a $32″ TV is sub $200.

Premium set top box from JB Hi Fi only costs $39

The Labour Government program which comes under Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s Communication portfolio was initially scheduled to cost  $69.5 million in the 2009-10 federal budget, this blew out to $309 Million in 2011.The program was designed for pensioners and the disabled, who are unable to buy and install their own set-top boxes.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said last night each installation cost is almost double the original forecast and had “no validity”.

All a person has to do to qualify for a free Government digital box is to be receiving one of five welfare payments at the full rate.

Conroy told the Australian newspaper “It mixes actual costs with estimated costs and is intellectually dishonest,” he said.

Read: Opportunist Kogan Slams Gillard’s $700 Set-Top Box

New data released by the Digital Switchover Taskforce reveals that the initial budget of $69.5m has delivered 77,400 installations, which work out at an average of $897 each.

This initial funding included $15m to Centrelink over three years for its role in the scheme. After excluding this amount, the cost per unit still works out at $698 each.

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