Australia will see a material policy from the Coalition before the rapidly approaching Federal Election on August 21, according to Shadow Health Minister, Peter Dutton.
Speaking on ABC television, Dutton said the Coalition would release an “affordable policy on broadband” but would not reveal details of the rival vision to Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN).
“I’m not the Shadow Minister for Communications, but I can tell you in areas like mine, had we stuck to the original [broadband] plan, suburbs in my electorate (McPherson, Queensland), would be covered. Now there are many areas in my electorate that aren’t covered by Government’s plan, yet they are holding it out as a great step forward,” he said.
“The reality is that for a lot of families they will be conscripted into a point where they are paying more than they otherwise would for their broadband services.
“I don’t think people quite understand what sort of a liability they are going to end up with personally out of Labor’s great big debt on the so-called national broadband [network].”
Coalition Senator, Barnaby Joyce, said that while broadband is essential for regional areas, the cost of Labor’s NBN project was blowing out from an original $4.3 billion to $43.7 billion. Joyce also reiterated the need for a cost-benefit analysis on the NBN.
“We had a policy called OPEL, [Labor] scrapped it,” he said. “We would want a broadband commitment that doesn’t put us into more damage financially than this nation already is.”
Australian Greens lead Senate candidate for Queensland, Larissa Waters, said the party supported the NBN, however had concerns over the prospect that the national infrastructure project could be privatised once completed.
“What we are concerned about are the plans to sell it off once it has been built,” she said. Now, we are seeing a lot of this selling off of assets in Queensland, and it’s pretty unpopular with Queenslanders for obvious reasons – you see prices skyrocket for consumers. National broadband is great, but let’s keep it in public hands.”
Responding to a question regarding Labor’s proposed mandatory ISP-level filter, Labor small business minister, Craig Emerson, said the concept of a filter was a “sensible” one.
“I think there needs to be a filter insofar as it is effective in preventing the access of people to pornography and such matters,” he said. “We do believe there should be some limitations on the content that young people, and even kids, can download. I will never support the downloading of material that children should not see.”