Slow. Expensive. Later: Malcolm Turnbull’s Mess

Happy anniversary Australia.

Two years ago tomorrow, Malcolm Turnbull triumphantly released his Strategic Review of the NBN.

At the time, he said the Strategic Review was:

The most thorough and objective analysis of the National Broadband Network ever provided to Australians.

Malcolm Turnbull, Ministerial Statement, House of Representatives, 12 December 2013

He also said

Importantly, all forecasts in the Strategic Review have been arrived at independently by NBN Co and, in the view of the company and its expert advisors, are both conservative and achievable.

Malcolm Turnbull, Media Release, “Strategic Review of the National Broadband Network,” 12 December 2013

The Strategic Review was Malcolm Turnbull’s justification from switching from Labor’s fibre NBN to his second rate copper version.

Two years on, and it is now clear that Malcolm Turnbull made this decision based on a very dodgy report, that was hopelessly wrong.

Malcolm Turnbull is pretty agile but he can’t dodge responsibility for this. The NBN is rolling out slower than he promised and it is going to cost a lot more than he promised. This is no one else’s fault but his.

On Monday it is also another anniversary.

It will be one year since Malcolm Turnbull bought back the old copper network from Telstra that John Howard sold last century.As part of the same deal he also bought the old HFC network that Optus planned to decommission years ago.

12 months on it is now clear that this was also another big mistake.

In November a leaked document from NBN revealed that the Optus HFC network is not fit for purpose and NBN Co will need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fix it up or overbuild it. 

Last week a second leaked NBN document revealed that the cost to fix up the old copper network is more than ten times what Malcolm Turnbull said it would cost when he released the Strategic Review.

The same leaked document also shows that the cost per home of Malcolm Turnbull’s second rate copper NBN has nearly tripled.

Rumours have also surfaced that Malcolm Turnbull is trying to sell the NBN after the next election at a loss to cover his mistakes.

Malcolm Turnbull calls his second rate NBN the MTM – Multi Technology Mix. A better name is Malcolm Turnbull’s Mess.



[iv] NBN Co Corporate Plan 2016, page 67.

[v] NBN Co, “IOP 2.0 FTTN Review,” page 10 (copper remediation $2,685 per node multiplied by 20,313 nodes = $54,540,405).

[vi] Ibid. ($26,115 per node multiplied by 24,544 nodes = $640,966,560).

[vii] NBN Co Strategic Review, page 97.

[viii] NBN Co Corporate Plan 2016, page 60.

[x] NBN Co Corporate Plan 2016, page 59.

[xi] NBN Co Strategic Review, pages 66 and 83. Page 66: “The Revised Outlook for IT Capital Expenditure, including OSS/BSS, is approximately $1.6 billion.” Page 83: “For NBN Co to extend its current OSS/BSS to support FTTN, the additional one-off cost is estimated to be $110-180 million. For HFC, this one-off cost is estimated to be an additional $70-110 million.”

[xii] “[NBN Co] will spent [sic] approximately $2.5 billion on IT capex by the 2021-22 financial year” (Malcolm Turnbull, Lessons from the NBN,” 11 June 2015, at: