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Tony Abbott making misleading claims about NBN

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Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Australia  Tel: (02) 6277 7400 Fax: (02) 6273 4110

PW 04/11 20 January 2011


In recent days, Tony Abbott has been calling on the Federal Government to cancel spending on the National Broadband Network and to redirect those funds to the Queensland communities affected by the floods.

Today Mr Abbott told 2GB radio:

“...I think the National Broadband Network is going to look increasingly like an indulgence if the government pushes ahead with that at the same time as bridges are unsafe, roads are not restored and people don’t feel that they can move around their communities with comfort and safety.”

This claim by Mr Abbott is misleading, and misguided.

Cutting investment in the National Broadband Network would not allow for additional recurrent funding into the Queensland flood effort.

The National Broadband Network is an investment, on which Australians will get a return. It is not funding that can be cancelled and used for recurrent expenditure.

Investment in the National Broadband Network does not affect our net debt or affect the level of deficit or surplus, because it is an asset that will generate income over time. Therefore it does not have an impact on our ability to assist in Queensland.

Just as important is the fact that one of the most significant contributions the Government can make is to keep the economy strong, driving economic growth and jobs growth. Investing in economic infrastructure like broadband is an important part of that.

The National Broadband Network is a significant long-term reform for this country, allowing Australians to access affordable, high-speed broadband - regardless of where they live. It is a reform that will increase economic growth and productivity across the Australian economy. It will drive jobs growth, and help communities - including regional Queensland communities hit by flooding - to access economic opportunities.

Mr Abbott has long been opposed to the National Broadband Network, he has made that opposition very clear. But this is not the time to be fighting old battles.

This is a time for all Australians to work together to rebuild Queensland, not a time for politics.

The Government is committed to assisting Queenslanders with the significant cost of rebuilding following the recent floods, and to bringing the budget to surplus in 2012-13.

This will be a substantial task requiring tough decisions. We will continue to engage with the Australian people about this task in the coming weeks and months.

Media contact: Laura Anderson 0411 143 111