Residential property developers have angrily attacked the introduction of new wiring-in charges to connect to the National Broadband Network on greenfields sites, claiming the move unfairly slugs new home owners while established dwellings get-off free.
The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) claims that the new charges, which impose a new $900 fee for connection and infrastructure charges, will drive-up the cost of new housing and hit families and new home owners on the fringe of cities.
“The Government’s plan will add another $900 in connection and infrastructure charges, and a potentially unlimited amount in additional backhaul charges, which could amount to several thousands of dollars per home,” said UDIA National President Cameron Shephard.
“[The] UDIA has argued that the Government forcing new home buyers to pay for the construction of backhaul would not only make new housing more expensive, but would be highly inequitable, as backhaul is trunk infrastructure utilised by the wider community”.
But Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the new fees are necessary to address concerns that previous arrangements unduly tilted the playing field against private infrastructure providers who had to compete against [NBN], which provided infrastructure at no charge to developers.
According to the Communications Minister, if the NBN charges for infrastructure, alternative providers will have both the ability and incentive to compete with NBN, putting downward pressure on costs and encouraging innovation.
But developers — who have previously complained about the high cost of private providers trenching in communications s cables –are not buying the better competition pitch. Rather, they see it as another cost shift to customers and yet more red tape that has been added to the existing burden of taxes and charges that drive-up the price of new dwellings.
“The proposal is particularly disappointing given the Government’s previous commitment to reduce taxes, charges, and red tape, and take pressure off Australian households,” Mr Shephard said.
The federal Opposition has also slammed the new charges, savaging it as the imposition of a new tax that double-dipped taxpayers.
“The NBN tax is unfair,” said Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare.
“It means that if you buy an existing home you don’t have to pay anything extra for the NBN. Your taxes pay for it. But if you buy a new home, you have to pay for it twice.”
Mr Clare said that Broadband wan now an essential utility “like electricity or water.”
“Australian families need it, Australian businesses rely on it and Australian students can’t live without it.”
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