Senate contempt order: Could Conroy face gaol?


blog I can’t recommend highly enough that you check out this awesome rant by’s David Braue on Labor going too far in its refusal to publish NBN Co’s business case. Writes Braue:

Citing unknowns, intangibles, and the opportunity cost of backing down on the NBN, Conroy has pushed the rest of parliament to take a whole lot on faith throughout the course of the year, and supporters of change have been none too willing to give him some slack. But there’s a fine line between necessary haste and utter disregard, and Conroy has this week crossed it. The current situation is unfortunate for the NBN and dangerous for Labor: Conroy is now in contempt of the Senate, which is a worrying place for any parliamentarian to be in. Contempt of Senate is, if Wikipedia is to be believed, punishable by a fine of $5000 and/or six months’ imprisonment.

Frankly, I agree 100 percent with David. Labor is onto a winner with its National Broadband Network policy. There’s a critical mass here. All it needs to do is eat a bit of humble pie and release one or two documents that the public, after all, has already paid for. Why is this too much to ask? It’s a flaming democracy, after all.

Image credit: Nextgen Networks


  1. Problem with releasing a “business plan” is that it can only serve to undervalue the benefits of the project.

    How many dollars is the “network effect” ?

    Part of the benefit of the NBN is that the wholesale network creates competition at the retail level, which keeps downward pressure on costs , encouraging more widespread adoption and higher speeds.

    I imagine the debate we are having is something like what happened when we rolled out a electricity to every home, which judging by my dad must of cost a lot of money because he could hardly even speak the words, something about it nearly sending us all broke.

    The push for a “business plan” is just a tactic the Liberal party are using to try and prevent competition in the high speed broadband market.

    Electricity was a good idea, and so is a NBN, just suck it up libs and move on.

    I am a bit surprised the greens have been sucked in, but i suspect its just them trying to flex their muscle, they just want to demand whatever stuff so people look at them (growing pains).

  2. Given we have McKinsey’s report and now some form of business plan, it should all be released (allowing for appropriate redaction of C-in-C material). But we know how Labor operates these days… Open Government is only appropriate when it’s… oddly enough… convenient. But both major parties are equally culpable in this.

    As for Conroy being found in contempt by the Senate, it’s unlikely ever to happen. I can’t recall the last time anyone was found in contempt in any substantive way. Unfortunately, he’s equally unlikely to cop the lesser punishment of being excluded from the chamber by the President.

  3. While the business plan should absolutely be released, I can see where the Government – (well, Conroy) – is coming from on this.

    The business plan has a high significance in relation to the finalisation of the agreement between NBN Co and Telstra, and as such, given that Telstra is an ASX-listed company, it is highly share price sensitive.

    By dropping this document into the senate – ultimately, the public domain – you can very seriously affect how the market perceives the relationship between Telstra and NBN Co, with the potential to unfairly – (in either direction) – alter the Telstra share price.

    This is unacceptable in respect to ASIC and ASX requirements to prejudice the agreement before it has been made final.

    Release the business plan – but I do believe the “commercial in confidence” material is a more than reasonable reason to hold off until the sensitive material is redacted.

  4. I think Conroy would be gaining a lot more sympathy on this particular issue if he weren’t relentlessly arrogant and clueless the rest of the time.

    Refusing to listen (always) and refusing to share information (this case) don’t go well together.

    He just comes off as impervious and patronizing.

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