Not today, Conroy: House of Reps rejects NBN transparency reform


news The Government has used its dominance of the House of Representatives to reject amendments successfully moved by Labor Senator Stephen Conroy in the Senate which would enforce a degree of radical transparency on the NBN company.

The amendments were to the Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Bill 2015, a relatively innocuous piece of minor telecommunications reform which most parties in Federal Parliament support. Conroy successfully amended the bill in the Senate on Monday.

The amendment — available online — stipulates that the NBN company’s board must prepare a report setting out key financial and deployment forecasts for the rollout of the National Broadband Network, for the period beginning 1 July 2015 and ending 30 June 2022.

However, the Government used its power in the House of Representatives early this afternoon to reject the amendments.

Speaking in the House, Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government Paul Fletcher, on behalf of Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, rejected the amendments. Fletcher tabled the below statement, outlining the House of Representatives’ reasons for doing so:

“The amendment proposes to insert a new section 98AA into the National Broadband Network Companies Act 2011 (NBN Companies Act). The proposed section would require the Board of NBN Co, within 60 days, to prepare, provide to the Minister and publish on its website a report setting out NBN Co’s financial and deployment forecasts for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2022. The Minister would be required to table the report in each House of the Parliament within five sitting days of receipt.

The amendment proposed is not related to the matters dealt with by the Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Bill 2015 (Bill). That Bill as introduced does not seek to amend the NBN Companies Act.

The amendment proposed to the Bill is in fact inconsistent with the underlying purpose of the Bill, being to streamline regulatory processes and reduce the compliance burden faced by the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.”

The Coalition voted against Conroy’s amendments in the House, while Labor, the Greens and a number of the crossbench MPs — including Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan — voted for them.

It is believed that the Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Bill 2015 will now be returned to the Senate for further consideration. The process is outlined on the Parliament House website here.

The news comes as the Parliament as a whole is also examining other NBN-related legislation.

This afternoon, the Government listed the somewhat controversial Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Access Regime and NBN Companies) for debate on Monday morning in the House of Representatives.

All of this was expected. I guess we’ll see next week what the Senate will do with the House’s refusal to pass Conroy’s NBN transparency reform amendments. I’m expecting fireworks. I’ll be in there watching and live-tweeting proceedings so that you all can follow along second by second, and also ensuring that our political representatives know that people are watching their behaviour on this one.


  1. “The process is outlined on the Parliament House website here.”

    Link missing. ;)

  2. Completely expected. Love the way they weaseled out of it saying it was ‘inconsistent’ with the underlying purpose of the bill. Really? How about the ‘inconsistency’ of all the pieces of legislation the LNP Government have introduced on the back of other, entirely unrelated, bills? How about we have some consistency in the way in which you apply the test for legislative inconsistency?

  3. Our political representatives know people are watching (E.g. Whirlpool is often referenced). The representatives don’t give a shit though. If they did, we wouldn’t have the MTM

  4. Transparency.. ? They’re hiding something. There was nothing unreasonable with that amendment. No reason to reject it.
    Jason made a brilliant speech , highlighting Turnbull’s constant verbal promises of transparency, yet not actually fulfilling his promises.
    This is pretty disgraceful considering its a gbe. Spending $56b , the public have a right to know, especially the Senate.
    And as usual, the msm aren’t reporting any of this.

  5. So senate can,
    (i) insist on its amendments to which the House of Representatives has disagreed;
    # If the Senate does not agree with the actions of the House and the House of Representatives still does not agree with the course of action taken by the Senate, the Senate may order the bill to be laid aside or request a conference with the House (SO 127(1); for conferences, see Chapter 21, Relations with the House of Representatives, under Conferences).

    Well that was clear as mud.

    • Essentially it comes down to …

      If the Senate does not agree, the Senate does not agree.

      The end of the road can be a Double Dissolution Election, if the Government of the day cares enough ;) That is the ultimate tie-breaker between the House and the Senate.

      Personally I really do not believe this one is going to get through, with the way the Senate crossbench is feeling at the moment. And the Senate usually tends to vote in favour of transparency, even on controversial issues.

      Of course, ultimately it doesn’t matter too much. This isn’t that necessary a bill for the Government. However, Conroy does have another opportunity to move the same amendment next week to a separate NBN bill that the Government *does* care about.

    • Compared to the libs he was extremely transparent, sure he could have provided even more info but never once did Conroy or Quigley try to hide behind commercial in confidence!

    • Compare the media situation, where every week, news articles talking about the cost of coffee machines and pretending delays were unrelated to Telstra to today, where there is no news, and what does rarely pop up is repeated talking points released from the Libs or NBN Co. You only have to go and watch the previous senate estimates, and recall the ability to personally track cost, rollout and even the minutia of why decisions were being made on the build based on the detail that came out of them to know that the issue of transparency is very much a real one. If you think otherwise, I would be forced to presume political bias, and frankly I could care less to converse at that level.

      • The Australian and the Financial Review are virtually ignoring the NBN these days.

        And yet there are a thousand more problems now than there were — enough stories to keep me writing for the next 10 years.

        It really does highlight how much of their previous outrage about the FTTP NBN was a confected campaign.

        • They certainly are. They couldn’t even be bothered to mention the Senate Estimates. The Senate request or the debate in lower house. Extraordinary. Anything but the Nbn.

    • It’s a good thing the amendment wasn’t transparency for Conroy and other pollies eh?

      In case you missed it the amendment was aimed towards the NBNCo. and their reporting methods and make them more accountable as a GBE to the taxpayers not towards Turnbull et. al as it will be a cold day in hell indeed when pollies approve *anything* that would force them to be accountable

      But good attempt at deflection!

      • You mean the same nbn GBE given directives from the government of the day, namely from the Minister of Communications, who was the worst Minister for Communications in this nations history and now runs the entire fucking country?

        The same nbn GBE being protected by the government of the day by knocking back bills that would help hold nbn accountable for their actions?

        “But good attempt at deflection!”

  6. If the Government won’t satisfy this request from the Senate then why should the Senate pass any legislation put forward by the Government. Regardless of what you here I’m convinced the Government doesn’t want to go to an early DD election. (only time will tell) Why don’t the Greens with hold support to the Governments Senate Voting Reform Bill. I would have though that the NBN cost and transparency would have greater weight than Senate Voting Reform. You know if you want something give us something in return.

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