Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, has lashed out at Barry O’Farrell, Premier of New South Wales, claiming he is misleading consumers about power prices and the National Broadband Network (NBN).
“The O’Farrell Government is claiming power prices in New South Wales may have to rise because NBN Co is refusing to pay fair compensation to roll out fibre cable on the state’s power poles,” Conroy wrote in a statement. “This is an absurd and ridiculous claim without any basis in fact.”
Conroy claimed that the O’Farrell Government is trying to delay the NBN rollout and make it more expensive in the process.
“Every other state and territory has finalised sensible commercial arrangements with NBN Co for access to power poles, but the NSW Government wants to charge almost six times as much,” added Conroy. “NBN Co has negotiated in good faith with the NSW Government for almost two years, but from the moment Barry O’Farrell became Premier, they have been frustrated at every turn.
“NBN Co is seeking to rent access to the poles only and will cover all design, preparation and installation costs.”
According to Conroy, the current deal being proposed by the NSW Government would cost taxpayers an additional $175 million over the life of the NBN – a figure he claims is six times what is being paid in other states and territories.
“It is time for the O’Farrell Government to stop slowing down the rollout and come to an appropriate commercial arrangement so the people of NSW can get the NBN as soon as possible.
“In the interim, NBN Co is prepared to use Commonwealth powers to gain access to the poles it needs now to continue the rollout to the areas of Gosford, Long Jetty and Lidcombe, until sensible commercial arrangements can be finalised with the relevant utilities.”