Jul 27, 2013

Tony Abbott’s broadband plan: $9.5 billion hit on small business

Small business in Australia will be slugged billions of dollars to access superfast broadband if the Coalition wins the next election.

Council of Small Business of Australia Executive Director Peter Strong told ABC1’s The Business that the Coalition’s plan will cost businesses more:

“At the moment under the NBN everybody gets connected. Under the Coalition’s approach, of course, it’s going to cost you more money to have it connected to your business. And that’s an extra cost to business.”

The Coalition has confirmed that under its second-rate broadband plan it would charge small businesses ‘some thousands of dollars’ to connect fibre all the way to their premise.

Malcolm Turnbull’s fibre-on-demand service is based on the United Kingdom model, where homes and businesses are charged as much as 3,500 pounds ($5,000) to have fibre connected.

For Australia’s 1.9 million small businesses, this would be a disaster, delivering them extra costs that could hit as high as $9.5 billion.

As well as promising to eliminate the instant asset write-off, the Coalition now wants to shift the cost of accessing this vital piece of infrastructure back onto small businesses themselves.

It is clear that the Coalition’s broadband plan is bad for small business and bad for the economy.

Small businesses in regional Australia will be particularly hard hit – slugged twice by the Coalition. They will have to pay as much as $5,000 to connect to fibre and will then have to pay more for their broadband services than their competitors in the cities.

Small business in Australia should not have to operate with one hand tied behind their backs because they are stuck with unreliable broadband using last century’s copper technology.

Federal Labor’s National Broadband Network will deliver fibre to the home or business to 93 per cent of Australian premises with no connection cost.

If Australian business is to compete in the Asian Century, superfast broadband is essential. That is what Labor is delivering as it rolls out the National Broadband Network.