The Australian Greens today revealed it had reached an agreement with the Government to create a new parliamentary Joint Committee to oversee the rollout of the National Broadband Network.
The news came as NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley last week warned “too much scrutiny” directed towards NBN Co would not be positive for the project. However, the Greens today maintained it was optimistic a joint committee could work and that the party was were ready to work with the Government on the issue.
In a media release issued today, the Greens said it had agreed with the Government on the composition, timing and terms of reference for a new Joint Committee. Australian Greens spokesperson on communications Senator Scott Ludlam said the negotiations had started months ago.
“We have spent the summer negotiating broader terms of reference, removing the proposed Government majority on the committee and ensuring that it gets to work right away, rather than waiting until July before getting started,” he said. “I am pleased we’ve reached a fair outcome, and I look forward to the committee picking up the oversight role that for the last several years was performed solely by a Senate select committee.”
In his complaints, NBN CEO Quigley lamented the risk to oversight the rollout which causing delays in the actual delivery of the project. Although Ludlam had previously told The Australian he had Quigley’s same concerns, he today reiterated a joint committee was a “step forward”.
Ludlam said in general that his party’s approach to the NBN had helped to deliver greater transparency on the rollout of the project. “The Greens’ approach to the NBN is to use the tools of the Parliament to provide ongoing transparency, as a way of building confidence in this important project,” Ludlam said.
However, the Government is yet to confirm the formal establishment of the committee in the House of Representatives later this afternoon. Ludlam maintained it would be established and would ensure greater accountability. “The committee will give the industry and the broader community a window into the financial and engineering decisions underpinning the National Broadband Network,” he said.