Greens senator Scott Ludlam has warned the government it will botch the $4.7 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) if it awards the contract to a private company.
Ludlam said the NBN must remain in public hands, which is what the Victorian-based Acacia group ultimately proposes to do should it win the bid.
He said the government must own the lion's share of the network.
“If the government caves into Telstra’s demands, it risks delivering an expensive lemon to the Australian people, with limited or nonexistent regional coverage, and with the interests of Telstra’s shareholders continuing to take precedence over the public interest,” Ludlam said in parliament on Tuesday.
“Telstra has carefully cherry-picked from the government’s project objectives throughout the bidding process.
“The progressive privatization process mutated Telstra from a public utility into an aggressive, litigious and self-interested private corporation. If we needed another case study as to why you shouldn’t privatize essential services, here it is.”
Australian Computer Society chairman Kumar Parakala said the government must collaborate with industry to develop broadband services to be used over the NBN.
“Broadband is a facilitator, not an end in itself. The NBN is a critical infrastructure investment, long over due in maintaining Australia's competitiveness in the global market,” Parakala said. “There are no real gains from just creating broadband, but only from using it productively. The infrastructure alone is not sufficient, we need a holistic view on how to leverage this major investment, as it is equally as important as the infrastructure itself.”
Telstra was contacted for comment but did not reply at the time of publication.