The Federal Government’s arguments for not releasing the National Broadband Network (NBN) business case this week amount to “pathetic excuses” according to Opposition communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
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Speaking on ABC television last night, Turnbull said Labor’s claims that the business plan contained market sensitive information, and was yet to go to Cabinet, were not valid reasons for withholding it from the Parliament.
“They’re just pathetic excuses,” Turnbull said. “If the Government was serious about getting the parliament support for this legislation it would be fully transparent.
“The Government is saying that it must pass this legislation this week but they are not prepared to provide the business plan, the business case.”
According to Turnbull, a more credible response would be to postpone the Government’s telecommunications safeguards bill — which would enable the splitting of Telstra and which has passed the House of Representatives — until after the business plan could be made public.
“If the Government wanted a few extra weeks to read the business case then it could postpone the finalisation of the legislation until after the business case had been published, and everyone had been able to absorb it,” Turnbull said.
“This is not national security. It is a straight forward telecommunications… this is not going to be competitive with anyone, the government is setting it up as a monopoly so there aren’t competitive concerns. Really the y should put all the cards on the table.”
Turnbull’s comments follow a tumultuous day in the Senate and Parliament with both houses pressing the Government to release its business plan immediately.
Despite the pressure, Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, stood firm, refusing to release both the NBN business case and the independent examination of the assumptions used to develop NBN Co’s business plan carried out by corporate consultants Greenhill Caliburn.
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Communications minister, Stephen Conroy, also defended the Government’s decision to seek the Greenhill Caliburn assessment despite refusals to send the NBN business plan to the Productivity Commission.
“It is common practice for governments to seek external expert advice relating to complex policy transactions,” Conroy told the Senate.
“This additional advice demonstrates that the government is taking a diligent and responsible approach to implementing the National Broadband Network, ensuring that the government has access to the necessary technical expertise.”
Independent senator, Nick Xenophon, yesterday admitted he was in a Mexican standoff with the Federal Government over its National Broadband Network (NBN).
Yesterday, Turnbull was forced to defend potential conflicts of interest between private investments and his argument over the National Broadband Network (NBN).
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