The Federal Government is determined to drag out the process of privatising the NBN, according to Shadow Communications Minister.
Selling off the $36 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) will be a more difficult process than the privatisation of Telstra, he said.
The telco began its road to privatisation in 1997.
Speaking at the CommsDay Summit 2011, Turnbull continued to lamenting the death of OPEL, the regional broadband network cancelled after the Coalition lost the 2007 Federal election.
The OPEL network would have identified underserved areas and deliver services in a timely manner, something the NBN neglects, according to the Shadow Communications Minister.
“The irony is had we won the 2007 election people in regional Australia would already be enjoying fast broadband services,” he said.
OPEL was to be a Government subsidised private sector endeavour and while the NBN would be privatised later on down the track, the current government is determined to make the process as difficult as possible, according to Turnbull.
The Coalition disagrees with the NBN monopoly path and would push for broadband services to be provided by the private sector where possible. “We face a very real challenge of achieving that in a cost-effective way courtesy of the NBN legislation which was just passed by parliament,” he said.
The bill in question pertains to the stepped that will have to be taken for the NBN to be privatised.
“The legislation makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for the NBN to be sold,” Turnbull said. “Under statute, it cannot be sold until it is completed – that is a date that passes many of our live spans, I would suspect – and only after the Communications Minister and Finance Minister certify it.
“Selling off the NBN would be harder than the privatisation of Telstra.”
This issue has been broached by Coalition members at Senate hearings.
Turnbull said if the Coalition wins the next election, it would force the NBN to undergo a cost-benefit analysis, commit to the structural separation of Telstra, promote infrastructure-based competition and “liberate” HFC networks for broadband services.
The Coalition disagrees with the NBN monopoly path and would push for broadband services to be provided by the private sector where possible.
The CommsDay Summit 2011 concludes today.