The cost of the $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) needs to be “reverse engineereed” in order to demonstrate its worth, according to Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
At the Australian Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC) business forum, the Prime Minister was asked by a guest to justify the throwing $43 billion on the NBN when the hospital sector appears to be grossly under-funded.
“I just question the wisdom of spending $43 billion on a technology that might be yesterday’s technology when we do really need a bit more investment in the hospital system,” the guest asked.
The Prime Minister clarified the figure as government and private sector investments combined and ensured that fibre is the most “future-proof” technology for the NBN.
“The durability of the technology will transform the way we deliver education, healthcare and so much more,” she said.
In August, the Prime Minister committed $250 on Medicare rebates for online consultations for rural, remote and outer metropolitan areas by July next year.
“The question about cost [of the NBN] needs to be reversed engineered,” she said. “Can we afford not to have this technology when competitors do… If we are left behind, where does that leave our economy in such a competitive world?”
Telstra chairman, Catherine Livingstone, said laying fibre into the ground is merely the first step. Business will have to step in to offer products and services of the NBN to make it worthwhile.
“Small businesses in particular will benefit and we will need to invest at the same time to take advantage of the NBN’s capabilities.”
Over 1000 business people attended the AICC event.