Former Opposition leader and Federal member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull, has launched a caustic online attack on Labor’s NBN as the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, spoke at Labor’s campaign launch.
Malcolm Turnbull released a press statement blasting the NBN while the Prime Minister took the stage at her party’s campaign launch which included a comprehensive online healthcare element.
Turnbull claimed the NBN was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“Remember, every dollar of revenue diverted to Labor’s NBN is a dollar that can’t be spent on hospitals, schools, roads or public transport – let alone return to you in lower taxes!” he said in a statement.
Turnbull said the NBN was a risky investment as the commercial value of the project may end up being a fraction of the $43 billion when it is completed.
“Risk like this are better born by the private sector – so shareholders, not Australian taxpayers lose out if the plans goes off the rails,” he said in the statement.
While the Coalition has only pledged $6 billion in its own version of a NBN, Turnbull said it is not an inferior plan.
“On the contrary, most [users] will have access to privately-provided broadband services virtually indistinguishable from Labor’s – but at much lower cost.”
At the Labor campaign launch, Prime Minister Julia Gillard focused the bulk of its NBN content on how it will benefit healthcare of rural Australia. She pledged $392.3 million for a range of e-health services.
This would include $250.5m to go towards Medicare rebates for rural Australians accessing medical services online as well as $56.8m for GPs and specialists that participate in delivering online serivces.
From July, 2011, Australians, especially those living in rural and regional Australia, will be entitled to apply for a special Medicare rebate for consultations on the Net using broadband. This benefits people living in areas where there are few specialists.
“They can see the health practitioner that they need from the offices of their local general practitioner rather than moving towns, moving cities, moving states which is what has to happen now,” the Prime Minister said.
She also announced the Government will bring in a general practitioners after-hours hotline which involves video streaming via broadband at the cost of $50m. If elected, Labor will initiate the plan on the July 1, 2012.
The Coalition’s broadband plans have been criticised by members of the telco industry as short-sighted.
ISPs were concerned by the proposal’s focus on wireless technology – which is considered to be more limiting than fixed-line service – and its failure to adequately address the industry dominance of Telstra.