Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has slammed a Senate committee on the NBN that was established to monitor the Coalition’s 60-day review.
The Senate committee was established on a joint motion by Labor Senator Kate Lundy and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.
However, in question time, Turnbull said that he and Shadow Minister Jason Clare had planned to have a joint committee that would include members of the House in addition to the Senate. Now that will not happen.
“[Clare] and I agreed that there would be, again, a joint committee on the NBN as there was in the last Parliament,” Turnbull said. “And we agreed that that should be the committee that dealt with it.”
“But Senator Lundy, the disappointed Senator Lundy, rolled him and there is now a Senate committee looking into the NBN, on which neither of the Leader of the Opposition’s broadband spokesmen are able to sit. What a failure of leadership on behalf of the Opposition.”
The new Senate committee will have seven senators, three nominated by the leader of the government, three by the leader of the opposition and one nominated by the Greens. That disqualifies Turnbull, his parliamentary secretary, Paul Fletcher, Clare and assistant shadow minister Michelle Rowland, because they are all House members.
Speaking earlier in support of the motion, Ludlam said he had sent a letter to Turnbull about the committee but never received a response.
“While in opposition Mr Turnbull participated in that committee,” said Ludlam. “I think all members who participated got value out of it. I had no response from Mr Turnbull. He has not re-established the Joint NBN Committee and I do not believe he that he seeks to.”
Ludlam said the committee is necessary “to police, to the degree that we can, the shambles that is now being presided over.”
“It is absolutely essential for an investment of this scale, given the privatisation mentality that this government seems to be bringing to the debate, that we salvage whatever we can from the wreckage that Mr Turnbull is now presiding over.”
The government's 60-day review is due for submission to the government for consideration by December 2 and will include analysis of the progress and cost of the NBN rollout and NBN Co’s financial and operational status.