NBN goes ahead, floods or not, Gillard says

Infrastructure slow downs and more tax will fund Queensland’s rebuilding instead

National Broadband Network will not be cut or slowed down to help fund rebuilding after the devastating Queensland floods, according to the Prime Minster, Julia Gillard.

The Government estimates the recovery will cost $5.6 billion.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra, the Prime Minister said people expected her Government to do more than one thing at one time and that it would therefore continue the NBN.

“More infrastructure is already needed to nurture the mining boom and support economic growth, so the Government is investing in long lived economic assets and infrastructure like high speed broadband,” she said.

“2011 remains a year when I will be delivering the national broadband network, creating more opportunity through education reforms and improving health care.”

The package will be put before parliament in the first sitting week, which begins on February 8. With the $35.9b NBN remaining intact, the money will come from three main sources – scrapped programs, a one-off tax and a slow-down in Federal Government funding for certain infrastructure projects.

People who make between $50,001 and $100,000 per year will pay a 0.5 per cent levy. Those making over $100,000 will pay a levy of 1 per cent with both levies to take place in the 2011/2012 financial year.

“I am abolishing, deferring and capping access to a number of carbon abatement programs,” she said. “These include the Green Car Innovation Fund, Cleaner Car Rebate Scheme, the Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships and Solar Flagships, the Solar Hot Water Rebate, Green Start Program, Solar Homes and Communities Plan and the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.

“Six Queensland roads projects will be delayed by periods of one to three years. This will save $325m,” she added. “I have also identified a number of projects in other states where delays and reductions in Australian Government funding will save approximately $675m.”

But the project could face opposition from the independent MPs, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, with money from the Building Better Regional Cities funding and Priority Regional Infrastructure program set to be redirected.

Gillard said she'd spoken to both MPs on the morning of releasing the package but that neither had committed to the legislation.

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