Greens finalise NBN joint committee


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.


  1. It is to be hoped that this joint committee will address more than just the supply aspects of the NBN (ie building it, running it and delivering it as a wholesale product to retailers and integrators. To ensure that the nation derives the full value of the investment, the overall governance of the NBN must focus equally on its use, with particular emphasis on building, deploying and exporting the next generation technologies that will depend on the NBN’s ubiquitous availability, capacity and reliability.

    To guide its oversight, the joint committee would do well to take guidance from the Australian and International standard for governance of IT – AS/ISO/IEC 38500. It should aim to ensure that:

    – responsibility is clearly defined for both supply and usage aspects of the NBN, with particular emphasis on responsibility for development of the future technologies for which the NBN is the foundation;

    – strategy for the nation’s economic development in the 21st century is properly informed by understanding the potential of the NBN, and that the strategy explicitly encourages development that builds on the foundation;

    – private and, particularly, public sector investment in initiatives that take advantage of the NBN are clearly focused on worthwhile, achievable outcomes;

    – performance of the NBN is measured and reported continually, not just in supply terms, but in overall economics outcome terms, with particular emphasis on the development of new Australian industry and export markets focused on leveraging NBN class infrastructure in all nations, and on the effective exploitation of the NBN and complementary technologies to enhance the economic performance and competitive advantage of Australian government and industry;

    – establishment of an appropriate regulatory regime that properly balances the risk associated with NBN against the potential advantage of a low-regulation environment, again dealing with both the supply and usage aspects;

    – human communities, and in this case especially business and government leaders, are fully informed of the importance of the NBN in Australia’s economic future, and that they are encouraged to pursue breakthrough change that is enabled by the underlying capabilities of the NBN.

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