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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) have been there for centuries

are still standing. 13th

century building, incredibly

strong. The opposition has

already voiced strong criticism

of the Government's national

broadband strategy. Leader

Malcolm Turnbull says the plan

will only saddle Australians

with more debt and higher taxes

and interest rates. Senator

Nick Minchin is the opposition

spokesman for broadband and

communication s, he joins us

now from Adelaide. Good

morning. Good morning, Paul.

More debt but faster

broadband. It's worth a try,

isn't it? We would all like

faster broadband, in Sydney I faster broadband, in Sydney I

suspect they'd like more

reliable electricity supplies

but are they realistic,

credible and deliverable. The

government took the policy to

the 2007 election to have fibre

to the node to 98% of Australians, that's gone up in

smoke. Apparently

undeliverable. And

unaffordable. They're gonna

replace what was a 10-15

billion dollars with a $43

billion plan. With no evidence

whatsoever that it is

commercially viable. They can't

and question abouts what the

takeup of this service woulder

be what, it would cost ordinary

Australians to subscribe to

this service. I think

yesterday's announcement was

really an extraordinary and

brazen cover-up for the collapse of their previous

policy. They've wasted 18

months and $20 million of

taxpayers' money on the

previous process, that's all

gone down the toilet. Now we've

got a $43 billion plan with no

business case attached to it

it, no evidence that people

want 100 Meg 'bits per second

download speed. That there will

be a demand for this service,

to warrant a $4 billion - $43

billion investment. There are

any other number of

infrastructure priorities in

this country. Here in Adelaide

we'd love it if we could get reliable water reliable water supplies. I

think everyone agrees though

that faster broadband is

something that we'd love to

have. In homes and businesses

around Australia. Is it not

worth supporting this in the...

While we avait that

implementation study? The

government itself doesn't know

whether this is feasible,

that's why they're having now,

halfway through their term of halfway through their term of

Government, we'll have what

they call a nine-month

feasibility study to see if

this latest plan of theirs does

stack up. It will only stack up

if there is requisite demand

for the service, at prices

people can afford. And for a

roll--out that will take at

least 8 years, we're talking

2018. In the meantime

Australians are flocking in droves from droves from fixed line

broadband services to mobile

broadband services. You must

wonder whether Australians,

particularly in homes, will

want a service of this kind,

when broadband and the

developments we'll see over

mobile broadband over the next

10 years will be phenomenal. I

have no doubt. So the viability

of a fibre to the premises

investment of this kind must be

seriously questioned. Many

analysts today are now already

saying that they can't see how

this could possibly be commercially viable in

Australia. You've made up your

mind, you will try and block

this in the Senate? No, we've

not said that. We've said we

would not embark on a policy of

this kind and we doubt that it could possibly be could possibly be commercially

viable - (talking over Nick

Minchin) We are a minority in

the Senate. We'll deal with

this as we deal with all

issues, on a case by case

basis, it's up for the

Government to convince us of

the merits of this proposal.

We'll examine the various

pieces of legislation required

to give effect to it and vote

according it the merits of the

legislation before us. We do approach this with some

scepticism. The onus is on the

government to convince us and a

majority of senators that this

stacks up answer is a sensible

use of taxpayers' money when

there are so many other calls

on taxpayers' money and when

this Government is on track to

rack up $200 billion in debt,

is it wise to go into future

dot debt to fund a commercially dot debt to fund a commercially

risky vivent in fibre to the

prems - premise broadband. If

the Government was to wait if

economic times to pick up and

have another study and another

study wouldn't we miss our

chance to get faster broadband

within the next few

years? That's what the

Government's done. They've

wasted 18 months on the - trying to implement their

previous policy. That's come to

naught. Now we've got to wait another another 9-12 months for a

feasibility study of this plan.

The first plan they said wouldn't work because the

private sector couldn't' come

up with $5 billion to match the

Government's 5 billion. So now

we're going to to have a plan

that involves $20 billion of

private sector money. How does

that add up? It involves the

Federal Government investing

the $5 billion they only have

'cause we sold Telstra, to

create apparently another

Telstra, to compete with the

original Telstra. And involves

borrowing $15 billion on behalf

of taxpayers to invest in it

which as I say, they can't

answer the questions about how

risky an investment this could

be. You did sell Telstra and it

led to a great monopoly for a

long time. Do you read into

yesterday's announcement - Hang

on a minute. Paul. That is a on a minute. Paul. That is a

ridiculous asession. The Labor

Party created Telstra, Kim Beazley's communications

Minister in the early 90s

created Telstra, corporatised

it and turned it into a

commercial enterprise. Don't

accuse us of creating the

Telstra monopoly. That was the

Labor Party. Helen Coonan's had

her troubles with that in

recent Times with Telstra. You

would be pleased the Government

has announced it it's going to

split up the retail and

wholesale - it's going to flag

that option of splitting up

wholesale and retail

operations?. As I - you

corrected yourself thrrk the

Government has knot not made

any decisions, they've put out

a discussion paper floating the

possibility of further

separation of Telstra. I don't

see how that fits with their

policy of creating a new

Telstra to run a wholesale

fibre to the premises network.

If they're intent on doing that

what on earth is the point of

breaking up a great Australian

company in which millions of

Australians have invested their

shares, taxpayers have an

investment in it through the

Future Fund. What is the

rationale for suggest now that

it be broken up in the context

of them building a new Telstra

to run a new fibre to the premises broadband network? I just don't understand the

Government's logic or

rationale. And I think the

millions of Australian who is

own Telstra shares should be

quite worried about what this

government is proposing to do

to accompany that employs

thousands of Australians and

against which the Government seems to have some

extraordinary vendetta. Thanks

very much for your time this morning, Nick Minchin. Pleasure. Pleasure. We've received a

number of messages from you

this morning about the

broadband plans.