Friday, 27 July 2018 11:15

Labor seeks ANAO audit of NBN Co corporate plan Featured

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The Australian Labor Party has written to the Australian National Audit Office seeking an independent assessment of key assumptions underlying the medium- and long-term financial projections of the NBN Co.

Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Shadow Finance Minister Jim Chalmers said they were seeking such an assessment in the light of the review by Standard and Poor's which had said that the NBN would never return a profit on the billions invested.

Given the scale of public investment in the NBN, it is important the Parliament and public have confidence the assumptions in the Corporate Plan have been subject to genuine independent scrutiny.

Rowland and Chalmers said the ANAO assessment "should examine key financial assumptions underpinning the long-term forecasts contained in the corporate plan, and whether the assumptions reflect the best information available to NBN Co, including the market insights, risk assessments and analysis".

They added: "We have asked the ANAO to undertake an urgent assurance review that includes a focus on several key areas:

  • "Revenue forecasts out to 2040;
  • "Explicit and implicit market share forecasts out to 2040;
  • "Operating cost forecasts out to 2040;
  • "A comparison of how long-range assumptions have changed through successive Corporate Plans; and
  • "The sensitivity of the business case to changes in these assumptions."

Rowland said: “The multi-technology mix has sold Australia short. It is $20 billion over budget, costs more to maintain, generates less revenue and is more exposed to wireless competition – all because (Prime Minister) Malcolm Turnbull abandoned the original fibre design for his own political gain.

“While the copper and HFC approach has blown out by $20 billion, countries such as New Zealand, the US and UK have slashed the deployment cost of fibre to the premises by between 40% and 50%.”

Chalmers said: “Turnbull and his Liberals have made a mess of the budget by racking up record and growing debt at the same time as they’re gifting $17 billion to the big banks.

“The Liberals are exposing the budget and taxpayers to significant risk through a potential write-down of the NBN, an outcome that many in the industry consider increasingly likely.”

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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