Senate to force Turnbull to publish NBN Review



news Labor and the Greens are likely to team up in the Senate today to force Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to publish next Monday the full Strategic Review which will guide the future of the National Broadband Network project.

The Strategic Review is being led by NBN Co’s Board and executive management. Its primary objective is to evaluate both the current NBN operational and financial performance as well as the timing, financials and product offers under alternative models of delivering very fast broadband to homes and businesses across Australia. Its recommendations will help shape the Government’s decisions regarding the future of the project.

Last week, NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski told the NBN Senate Select Committee that the company would deliver the Strategic Review to the Federal Government yesterday. This timeframe is in keeping with a pledge by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the review would be developed within 60 days of NBN Co having a new management team.

A spokesperson for Turnbull this morning confirmed the report had not yet been delivered. When it was, they said, it was likely to be in draft form. After the Government had time to consider the draft, a final version would be produced.

This approach has largely become standard practice for the production of this style of report, under both Labor and the Coalition, although some commentators have criticised the approach for having the potential to undermine the independence of such reports. Additionally, Switkowski said last week that some sections of the report — dealing with commercial in confidence information, for example, may not be released.

Yesterday, Greens Senator and Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam signalled he would today file a motion in the Senate that the Coalition table the Strategic Review document no later than noon on Monday 9 December. It is believed that Labor’s Senators will support the motion, meaning it will pass in the Senate as it is currently constituted.

“The report was due yesterday, and it is reasonable for the Minister to have a week to digest the contents of the Strategic Review, which should then be made public,” said Ludlam in a statement.
“There is a strong public interest in knowing the fate of a national high speed broadband network, with a majority of Australians voting for parties that support an end-to-end fibre to the premises network. At recent committee hearings however, incoming NBN Co Chair Dr Ziggy Switkowski could not say whether the report would ever be made public.”
“Will Mr Turnbull’s review provide independent expert advice, or will it simply rehash the Coalition’s appalling #fraudband model?”
“Fibre to the node was explicitly rejected by an expert panel in 2009, because it would be obsolete on the day it was built. It will be fascinating to see if the Strategic Review is guided by the evidence, or the politics. It is the Senate’s job to find out.”

Yesterday, in a doorstop interview, Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare said yesterday was “D-Day” for Turnbull’s plan to roll out “a second-rate NBN”.

“He’s been given a strategic review of the NBN by his mates that have written a report for him at the NBN Company,” said Clare. “It’s on his desk today and he should release that report. Most particularly he should release all of the report, there’s some suggestion that he won’t release it all, he should release the whole report and he should come clean with the Australian people and explain whether he’s going to honour his own election promises.”

Clare reminded journalists that back in the 1940’s, then-Opposition Leader Robert Menzies was one of the fiercest critics of the Snowy Hydro Scheme, another major Australian infrastructure project. “He was virulent in his attacks on that project, he even refused to turn up to the launch of it two months before an election,” said Clare. “Then he became Prime Minister and suddenly had a change of heart. He supported it, he backed it, he funded it.”

“And what I’m saying is Tony Abbott, you need to be like Robert Menzies here. Back this infrastructure. You say that you are the infrastructure Prime Minister, well if you’re the infrastructure Prime Minster, you need to fund and support the infrastructure that we need for the twenty-first century and there’s no better example of that than the NBN.”

The report will no doubt be published next week, with some significant redactions. Turnbull has always intimated it would be released. But I’m glad Labor and the Greens have moved this motion. It gives some oomph to the movement to have the report released in full. Over to you, Mr Turnbull. And how about you release that Blue Book while we’re tabling documents? ;)

Image credit: Australian Greens


    • 4 to 6 Mbps upload speeds announced by Turnbull by 2019 while the world average is 7.13 Mbps according to in 2013 and increasing at double digit percentage points.

      Yeah, none of this makes any sense. If we assume a 20% annual growth in upload speeds world-wide by 2020, the upload speeds cited by Turnbull will be barely a fifth of the world’s average.

  1. Executive summary of executive summary:
    From the contents of this report and aims of the project. We recommend that Australia be rolled out with ████. [redacted] :-P

    • As so many Telstra customers have problems with their local pits flooding anytime it rains much, Malcolm should get in Scott Morrison to do briefings.
      He can stonewall any requests for NBN progress with his standard line about “on water operations”.

  2. Politics is show business for ugly people, political parties have a habit of selecting people with bi polar disorders as their front men. Just have a look at Pyne and Abbott’s performance in regard to education spending this week. How can anybody suggest that they have their nuts and bolts screwed together properly, when all that occurred was bizarre delusional behaviour from both of them. Like denials of things that occurred that was on widely circulated video footage.

    Have a look at Tony here
    He’s not all there, never seen anybody behave like that that wasn’t nuts.
    Why does he go through phases where he “disappears from public view for weeks at a time”?
    Why won’t he appear where he is interviewed seriously?

    The NBN should be purely a technical issue not a political or cost issue it’s about a 100 year future of telecommunications, the initial rollout expectations were set too high for political purposes. It’s quite clear the NBN rollout is going to take longer and cost more than originally thought. The training of workers was not implemented properly and Labor wasted too much time and money with Gillard’s school halls and handouts instead of focussing seriously on the NBN.
    Labors problems was the dysfunctional leadership of Rudd whose qualities are largely shared by Abbott.
    Why can’t political parties turf these loons or is the “high energy” politics generated by bi polars necessary to run a political campaign in todays media environment.

  3. Maybe Labor is holding back on publicly releasing that Lazard report until Turnbull has been given ample opportunity to produce a lopsided and nearsighted Strategic Review?

    • One can only hope. To release the expert opinions of 2009 stating that FTTP is the way to go and their explanations.

  4. leaked copy:
    ██████████████████████████████████████ ….

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