Labor is refusing to comply with the requirement of a Senate Estimates Committee in its latest attempt to shield the National Broadband Network (NBN) from proper scrutiny, Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
Senator Birmingham described a letter* from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy stating its refusal to meet agreed timelines to answer hundreds of questions about the NBN as an affront to our democratic processes of accountability.
“Labor’s latest attempt to shield its NBN from public scrutiny is an outrageous attack on Australian taxpayers’ right to know how billions of dollars of their money is being spent,” Senator Birmingham said today.  
“Timelines for answering estimates questions were agreed to by all Senators, including Labor Senators. To describe the effort required to answer the questions as ‘unreasonable’ is an insult to the Parliament and taxpayers alike.
“Clearly the Government’s paranoia and secrecy are only increasing as the NBN descends further into chaos.
“This week the NBN has been rocked by the resignation of its Head of Construction, failed tenders and massive cost blowouts.
“This is Labor’s latest attempt to avoid scrutiny of the NBN, following its refusal to undertake a cost benefit analysis, refusal to subject the NBN to Public Works Committee scrutiny and creation of mass exemptions for the NBN from Freedom of Information laws.
“Julia Gillard promised to let the sun shine in when it came to scrutiny of Government, but Senator Conroy is drawing the blinds ever more tightly closed.
“The Government is desperately trying to stop any level of scrutiny of its NBN. What else is it trying to hide? Is the NBN unravelling at the seams?”
*See below