On Saturday The Australian revealed that in 2010 the Gillard Government was advised by leading investment bank, Lazard, that the NBN project was so fundamentally misconceived it would have a negative NPV of $31 billion. In other words, Lazard was saying that it believed at the end of the project the NBN would be worth $31 billion LESS than the Government had invested in it.
This advice was never made public by the Gillard Government.
The former Finance Minister, Senator Penny Wong, appearing on Meet the Press yesterday, did not dispute that advice had been given but complained it was a "selective leak" by which I understand her to mean that there was other advice which supported the Labor Government's claim that the proposed investment in the NBN would generate a positive rate of return of 7.1% and thereby realise a profit for the Commonwealth as opposed to the gigantic loss Lazard had warned against.
She and Bill Shorten can put this matter to rest very quickly. A new Government does not have access to the cabinet papers of its predecessor. However the Leader of the Opposition can agree to access being granted (see Cabinet Handbook p. 46)
Mr Shorten should agree that all advice given to the previous Government relating to the establishment of the NBN be released. That way, the Australian people will be able to judge for themselves whether this extraordinary project, undertaken without any cost benefit analysis, was grounded in economics or politics.