MPs hope reviews of NBN Co will buy time to lobby Turnbull
The incoming communications minister is expected to order multiple reviews of NBN Co and issue new instructions to the company next week - and will soon start renegotiating a deal with Telstra that has been described as one of the most complex in Australian corporate history.
NBN Co will have two new shareholder ministers when the new ministry is sworn in - expected to be Malcolm Turnbull and Andrew Robb, who were respectively the communications and finance spokesmen in the shadow cabinet.
"There will be a rigorous review, including a cost-benefit analysis, of the NBN project," Mr Turnbull said. "It will disclose how much it will really cost in dollars and years to complete the project on the current specifications and then disclose what our options are to make it more cost-effective.
"We have no comment to make about commercial negotiations, especially at this time when the new ministry has not yet been sworn in."
Mr Turnbull has also indicated he wants a strategic review of NBN Co's finances and performance to date and an independent audit of NBN Co's governance.
NBN Co staff received a memo on Monday saying the government-owned company was still running under caretaker conventions and it was business as usual until the new ministers issue instructions.
And with all these reviews going on, some MPs see an opportunity to lobby Mr Turnbull to keep the existing fibre roll out going.
Independent candidate Cathy McGowan, who could still take the seat of Indi from sitting MP Sophie Mirabella depending on preference flows, said she believed there was an opportunity in coming months to lobby for the broadband plan set up by the Labor government.
"Mr Turnbull has launched a series of reviews into the NBN and this is a window of opportunity to talk to him and pressure him to continue with the current model," she said. "I understand we have got until Christmas to do this."
Broadband was a key issue for Indi voters, with many concerned they would have to pay for upgrades under the new government and would get slower speeds than with fibre-to-the-home connections.
"If I am elected, I will put a policy group together from Indi for broadband and mobile," Ms McGowan said. "I will be bringing the best minds that we have got in the electorate."
The Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie said he was pleased to learn Ms McGowan was an advocate for fibre.
"I remain committed to fibre to the premises and will take every opportunity to pressure the new government to overturn its already out-of-date broadband policy," Mr Wilkie said.
He expected the fibre to the premises roll out in Tasmania to be completed because "of the extent of existing work and contractual arrangements", which the Coalition has promised to keep.