Thursday, 1 September 2011

Oakeshott clicks on the wrong link

NBN not just 'another big spend', needs a new sales pitch, says Oakeshott

Rob Oakshott
Independent MP Rob Oakeshott in Sydney today, says the NBN should not be seen as 'another big spend'. Picture: Jeremy Piper Source: News Limited

THE National Broadband Network needs a new sales pitch if Australians are going to stop seeing it as "another big spend", independent federal MP Rob Oakeshott says.

Mr Oakeshott is the chairman of the parliamentary Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network (NBN), which released its first report on Wednesday.

Among the committee's five recommendations is a call for the minister for broadband and communications Stephen Conroy to publish a statement explaining the "productivity, jobs and competitive benefits" that the NBN seeks to deliver.

At the moment, Mr Oakeshott said all people were seeing was its estimated price tag of $35.9 billion. "Anecdotally I'm finding a lot of people think we are building another monopoly -- another Telstra Mark 2 -- and that this is a big spend by government with no return at the end of it," Mr Oakeshott told reporters in Sydney.

"When in truth this is no different from building a home, building a business, which if it is done right and done efficiently we will get a significant rate of return later down the line."

The NBN deal has come under renewed criticism from the opposition after the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) announced on Tuesday it was unable to accept a crucial aspect of Telstra's move to structurally split its retail and wholesale arms.

The separation is essential to the federal government's plan for the National Broadband Network. Mr Oakeshott said he backed the consumer watchdog's chairman Rod Sims, and he hoped Telstra would take the recommendations on board.

"I would certainly hope that Rod Sims is listened to and that his changes ... are done diligently and swiftly." It would be "disappointing", he said, if the ACCC's findings derailed Telstra's plans to have its own shareholders approve the deal at its annual meeting on October 18.

The parliamentary NBN committee will report again at the end of November.


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