CANBERRA – Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has pledged to wind back National Broadband Network funding and spend the money on roads instead if he wins the next federal election. He would also can the Gillard Government’s computers-in-schools program and sack 12,000 public servants, he told the National Press Club in Canberra.”Discontinuing the computers-in-schools program, which parents are now having to pay for anyway, will save half a billion dollars,” he said.
In a side remark, he added: “Big savings could be made in the government’s $350-a-throw set-top box program, since Gerry Harvey can supply and install them for half the price.”
On the NBN, Abbott said a “good government” wouldn’t spend more than $50 billion on the national broadband network because people did not need it. (The NBN’s official cost of construction is in fact out at $35.9 billion).
He did not detail plans for any NBN replacement program or what would be done with the fibre already rolled out by the election, though he said “Better broadband will once more be delivered through market competition, freeing more money to tackle pressing problems like the traffic gridlock in outer metropolitan areas,” he said.
The Coalition’s telecoms spokesman Malcolm Turnbull has previously suggested that the fibre rollout would be scaled back and private enterprise invited to provide broadband services via fibre to the node, fixed wireless or satellite. In urban areas the Coalition would seek to have Telstra and Optus’ hybrid-fibre coaxial networks retained and upgraded to faster speeds.
He stressed that the first act of an incoming Coalition government would be to prepare legislation to repeal Labor’s carbon tax, a move which he said would take the pressure off the power prices and transport prices that feed through to every price in our economy.
Abbott yesterday also announced plans for an Online Safety Working Group designed to assist parents and teachers in protecting young people from the risks associated with the Internet and social media.
The Coalition would consult with technology, education and cyber safety representatives, to develop its online safety policy in the areas of education, regulation and enforcement, he said,
The group will be chaired by the Bradfield member Paul Fletcher, a former Optus executive.