The Coalition has defended its delay in releasing an alternative to the Government’s National Broadband Network and claimed it’s entirely normal for an election campaign.
Liberal Party MP and former Optus executive, Paul Fletcher, made his comments during a Google event in Sydney.
He also continued the Coalition’s attack on the NBN’s cost.
“[The implementation study] said even if everything went swimmingly and penetration of between 70-90 per cent is achieved the internal rate of return this network will achieve is between six and eight per cent,” he said. “We are strong fans of broadband but we do not think this present NBN is well thought out and that it puts far too much taxpayer money at risk.
“What we in the Liberal Party believe is the best way to [provide the best infrastructure] is to let the private sector do it… with some targeted public investment in areas of market failure.”
Despite the Coalition coming under heavy fire from industry groups and the Government, Fletcher denied his party was on the back foot because of its refusal to announce an alternative to the NBN.
“We will have a plan in due course,” he said. “Within the Liberal Party we are a marketplace of ideas and so I’ve been putting forward ideas as have others and when the appropriate time comes you’ll see the fruits of that labour.
“We’ll release the policy at the appropriate time and that’s a standard issue during campaigns when there are a whole range of policies to be released.”
Details of the Coalition’s alternative policy have been leaked to the media and received significant negative feedback from the IT industry. But Fletcher said it was just “speculation” and would not discuss it.
While he’s been named as the key Coalition contact on tech issues by a range of industry lobby groups, Fletcher denied he was providing a high degree of advice on the party’s alternative broadband plan.
“I wouldn’t say that I’ve had a key role, I’ve just been offering ideas,” he said.