Coalition pushes for NBN cost-benefit analysis

The Coalition is supporting a Bill that would force the NBN Co to reveal the financial details of its $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) project.

The National Broadband Network Financial Transparency Bill would require NBN Co to publish a 10-year cost-benefit analysis by the end of May next year, which would be carried out by the Productivity Commission.

Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement the report would include an analysis of broadband availability within Australia, including an analysis of coverage and variations in pricing.

Mr Turnbull said the analysis would also look at "the most cost-effective and speedy options by which fast broadband services can be made available to all Australians (particularly those in regional and remote areas and underserved metropolitan areas)."

Critics of a cost-benefit analysis have pointed out that setting out a business case would fail to take into account the as yet unknown social and economic benefits of enhanced broadband. However, Mr Turnbull said any cost-benefit analysis would consider these potential outcomes.

Mr Turnbull said: "The Coalition will be seeking Government and cross-bench support for the Private Members Bill and Motion in both houses."

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy accused the Coalition of attempting to delay the NBN and pointed to an implementation study from KPMG and McKinsey.

"According to the Implementation Study, NBN Co will generate sufficient earnings by the end of year seven so that the investment required by Government will peak at $26 billion, of which $18.3 billion will be required over the next four years," he said.

A spokesperson for Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said: "The Australian Greens Party Room will consider whether this is a serious bid for relevance and transparency, or another in a long line of Coalition delaying tactics designed to destroy the network."