The Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, has announced an election policy which commits the ALP to investing up to $4.7 billion in partnership with the private sector to build a broadband service that will cover 98 per cent of the population and deliver speeds forty times faster than currently available.
Describing the policy as a contribution to “nation building for the future”, Rudd said a commitment to broadband infrastructure was on a par with the commitment to railway construction in the nineteenth century.
Rudd said the policy would be funded with $2 billion from the existing communications fund with the remainder to be taken from the Future Fund’s 17 per cent share of Telstra. This proposal led to a savage response from the Treasurer, Peter Costello, in Question Time.
The Shadow Minister for Finance, Lindsay Tanner, said the ALP now accepted that it had lost the fight to retain Telstra in public ownership and is now “absolutely committed to building the broadband network of the future”.