The Labor Government is set to get intense scrutiny over its $43 billion National Broadband Network with key independent politician, Tony Windsor, singling it out as having a ‘fictitious’ cost.
The comments were made during a National Press Club event, which featured the three key independents and Greens MP that will most likely decide which major party takes power.
When asked by a journalist about the importance of costing as to the running of a Government, Windsor said it was vital to test promises of the parties going into an election.
“I’ll give an instance – broadband,” Windsor said. “This $43 billion figure that gets bandied about. I haven’t seen the real trail that ends up with that number and in fact I think it’s a fictitous number.
“I want to find out what the real one is and there should be a trail that leads us to that.”
Earlier today the three independent MPs, Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshot, said they would be seeking costings and detailed information on seven key topics. They declined to reveal what the seven were, but Windsor indicated all three were after the NBN information.
The request is in direct conflict with Labor Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, and his repeated declaration that a cost-benefit analysis and business case for the NBN is unnecessary and unwanted by the public.
“This is entirely a manufactured, confected debate started by the Liberal Party to try and slow down [the NBN],” he said in an interview with ARN days before the election. “Waste of time, waste of effort, waste of money. We’re actually building the NBN as we said we would and as the Australian people elected us to.”
The independents have also criticised the Coaltion's broadband plan, with Katter claiming it has too much privatisation involved.
“It seems to me that it’s got an awful lot of private ownership associated with it and you can’t go down that path,” he said. “Most certainly a privatised system is not where I’m going to go.
“Telstra’s privatisation was diabolical for Australia and in fact every privatisation has been diabolical for rural Australia. Clearly you can sustain those services in the cities and you can’t in the country.”