Comments by the parliamentary secretary to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull prove the Coalition lied about cost blowouts to the national broadband network to win votes, opposition communications spokesman Jason Clare claims.
At the Tech Leaders forum on the Gold Coast on Sunday, federal MP Paul Fletcher admitted the Coalition's claim that Labor's NBN would cost more than $90 billion, not $37.4 billion as tabled by Labor, was wrong.
In a speech that criticised the former government, Mr Fletcher said the NBN strategic review released in December proved the Labor party had mismanaged the rollout and got the cost wrong.
He said the true cost of the original plan had been estimated by the review to be $55.9 billion, nearly $20 billion higher than planned.
When asked if the $90 billion estimate was then a "political figure" floated to win votes, Mr Fletcher admitted that figure was also wrong.
"You're right that the estimate that we had developed in opposition was a little higher again from that number."
Mr Fletcher went on to say "the work we did in opposition stands up as a very rigorous piece of analysis and ... we said we'd conduct the strategic review when in government and publish that".
Mr Clare told Fairfax Media that Mr Fletcher's admission proved the Coalition had lied.
"They just lied. They made that figure up.
"They had a strategy at the last election which was to neutralise the issue. Seventy-eight per cent of Australians support the real NBN, so it is very clear they had a strategy to neutralise the issues, same as with education funding. They had a strategy to neutralise it, promise something before the election, then break the promise."
Mr Turnbull's office maintains the $90 billion figure was closer to the final total peak funding estimated by the strategic review of $72.6 billion than Labor's figures.
Mr Clare said the Coalition had broken a number of promises, including that nearly 9 million homes would have a fibre to the node NBN, when now it appeared only 30 per cent would, with a large part connected via existing pay TV cables.
"I've made the point before. We were flogged at the last election, but it wasn't because of the [NBN]. People voted for the Liberal Party in spite of their policy on the NBN."
The writer is attending the Tech Leaders forum as a guest of MediaConnect.