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What’s Australia’s NBN worth? Nowhere Near Its Cost: Report

CANBERRA:  If the government of the day wants to sell off the NBN sometime in the future, it will pretty quickly discover that it’s unlikely to get back all the money earlier governments have spent digging up the nation, according to a new report.

That’s if it’s able to get any money at all.

This will hardly come as news to dyed-in the-wool government watchers, but it was eyebrow-raising enough to raise some headlines across Australia yesterday. 

The figures come from the Parliamentary Budget Office which has been investigating alternative funding methods for future projects.

Its report focuses on NBN Co, which it notes received $29.5 billion equity from government as well as a $19.5 billion loan that it eventually has to refinance – that’s almost $50 billion, all up

There’s little chance of Canberra ever getting that back. The most recent “fair-value” estimate of NBN Co as at June 30, 2019, was just $8.7 billion. The report notes: “This value is a point-in-time estimate and may change in the future.”

So, could the Government find a buyer if it did put the NBN up for sale? The report doesn’t say – but some industry watchers are predicting it may be unlikely. – David Frith

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