Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has accused several of the independents and Greens MP Adam Bandt of irresponsibility for their decision not to support his private member’s bill designed to increase transparency of the National Broadband Network and force the Government to conduct a cost/benefit analysis.
Turnbull’s bill narrowly failed yesterday in the House of Representatives after Labor also voted against it — although the Coalition is planning to reintroduce it in the Senate.
“The Labor members of the House of Representatives have today abrogated their responsibility to stand up for Australian taxpayers and consumers,” Turnbull said in a statement issued yesterday. “And they have been supported in this recklessness by the Greens’ Adam Bandt and the independent members Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie.”
“The parliament’s refusal to properly oversee the NBN, the largest infrastructure project in Australian history, is an irresponsible and unprecedented decision which will have ramifications for years to come.”
The news came on a day in which Federal Parliament erupted on a number of issues surrounding the NBN in general.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has reportedly ruled out making NBN Co’s business case public until December — after parliament finishes sitting for the year, placing Labor in contempt of a Senate order. A motion to gag Communications Minister Stephen Conroy in the Senate until the report was released narrowly failed, and earlier this week Coalition amendments to the Government’s telecommunications industry restructuring legislation also narrowly failed.
“I thought we were in a new era of sunshine and accountability where the public would be allowed to know what’s happening with $43 billion of their taxes,” said Turnbull in an doorstop interview in Canberra yesterday.
“The Government should publish the business plan, full stop. They should have published it the moment it was completed. They shouldn’t have embarked on the project without a business plan. Anybody in the business world will be shaking their heads in horror for months with the way the Government has gone on with this project.”
One summary of the day came from Greens Senator and Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam on Twitter.
“Today is going to be #NBN day in the senate,” he wrote. “Three different debates on, none of them to any effect whatsoever #thisplaceisweird.”
Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull