Abbott sicks Turnbull on independents

It was the support of several independent MPs such as Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie which allowed Labor leader Julia Gillard to form Government

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott this morning said one of Malcolm's roles as the new Shadow Communications Minister would be to expose problems with Labor's National Broadband Network project with the aim of wooing independent MPs back to the Coalition's camp.

It was the support of several independent MPs such as Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie which allowed Labor leader Julia Gillard to form Government and take the Prime Ministership once again -- and all three cited broadband as a key reason to support Labor.

However, this morning Abbott told ABC Radio National that his aim would be to convince the independents to switch sides -- with the first arrow set to his bow being yesterday's appointment of Liberal heavyweight Malcolm Turnbull as Shadow Communications Minister.

"I think that's what we should be doing," said Abbott after being asked whether his aim would be to turn the independents. "And as I said, with someone like Malcolm in charge of communications policy, in charge of exposing the waste and extravagance inherent in the Government's broadband plans, that becomes a very real prospect."

Turnbull yesterday blasted the NBN straight out of the gates, saying it would waste tens of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money.

Turnbull said everything he had seen with respect to Labor’s NBN project demonstrated that the financial investment in the effort could not be justified. He highlighted the NBN Implementation Study produced by consulting firms KPMG and McKinsey and the low levels of take-up of NBN services so far in Tasmania — just hundreds of households so far — as examples.

According to the MP, the NBN would eventually be worth between a half and quarter of the total estimated cost of the network — normally put at $43 billion, although NBN Co expects its deal with Telstra to cut that price down significantly.

This morning, Abbott repeated his previous statements that the project was "school halls on steroids" and said around the world, no country had proposed spending anything like Labor had under the project. He wasn't sure that even Telstra had been convinced of the veracity of the project -- claiming Labor had bought the telco out with its $11 billion deal with NBN Co.

"His job is to explain that this is not a sensible policy for Australia and that this is typical of a Labor Government which is addicted to waste and incompetence," said Abbott.

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