Friday, 28 February 2020 03:20

Labor up in arms over govt plans for a ‘broadband tax' and cuts to regional NBN investment Featured

By
Michelle Rowland, ALP Shadow Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland, ALP Shadow Minister for Communications

The Labor Party is pressuring the Federal Government to explain why it is reportedly introducing a $7 per month broadband tax on 1 July, while cutting regional NBN investment at the same time.

Referring to reports that detail a decision by NBN Co to cut regional funding by $200 million, and what it claims are “attempts to conceal this by omitting key information from the 2020 Corporate Plan”, Labor's Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said if the fixed-wireless network needed upgrading, “why was $200 million worth of capital investment in that network cut even after broadband tax revenues were factored into the NBN budget?”

“This comes as reports also reveal NBN Co is now chasing taxpayer-funded grants to upgrade parts of the fixed wireless network before the rollout is even complete,” she said.

“Whether it’s broadband or energy, the Coalition is driving up prices, playing politics with technology, and misleading regional Australians.

“They don’t have a plan for the country – just a marketing plan for themselves.”

As reported by iTWire just under two weeks ago, the Federal Government's proposed regional broadband scheme, which will impose an industry levy to fund the costs of paying for proving NBN connections in regional areas, is set to go ahead after a Senate inquiry recommended only that a few additional safeguards be adopted.

The Senate's Environment and Communications Legislation Committee recommended in its report that "additional transparency measures, which provide details of NBN Co's off-set arrangements and the effective management of these arrangements" be implemented.

The panel added that "after due consideration to the [previous] recommendation, the committee recommends that the bills be passed".

The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer) Bill 2019 (CC Bill) and the Telecommunications (Regional Broadband Scheme) Charge Bill 2019 (RBS Bill) were referred to the committee last year.

Proposed initially in 2016, it is estimated that the RBS would raise something in the region of $40 million by imposing a levy on “superfast” (or “NBN-comparable”) fixed-line broadband services which can offer speeds of 25 megabits per second or more.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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