Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hallelujah! At last we might put the NBN horse before the NBN cart

As any sane person would, before committing tens of billions

Malcolm Turnbull's private members bill is so reasonable it might just get up.

"The Coalition Joint Party Room today agreed to support a Private Members Bill – the National Broadband Network Financial Transparency Bill 2010 – which will bring the Government to account over its $43 billion NBN project.

A notice of motion for the Bill will be tabled by the Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband Malcolm Turnbull.

The Bill would require NBN Co, the Commonwealth-owned company that is rolling out the NBN, to produce and publish a detailed 10-year business plan, including key financial and operational indicators.

It also requires the Productivity Commission to conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the NBN and report back to Parliament by 31 May 2011.

The Productivity Commission inquiry will include:

• Analysis of the current availability of broadband across Australia, including the identification of suburbs and regions where services are of a lower standard or higher price than in the capital cities;

• Consideration of the most cost-effective and speedy options by which fast broadband services can be made available to all Australians (particularly those in regional and remote areas and underserved metropolitan areas).

• Consideration of the economic, productivity and social benefits likely to flow from enhanced broadband around Australia, and the applications likely to be used over such networks.

• A full and transparent economic and financial assessment of the proposed NBN.

An associated motion to be moved by Mr. Turnbull will create a Joint Select Committee drawn from both Houses to oversee the rollout of the NBN. The proposed Committee would include Government, Opposition and cross-bench Members and Senators.

The Coalition will be seeking Government and cross-bench support for the Private Members Bill and Motion in both houses."

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