The Gillard Government’s proposed $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) is in disarray, with mounting signs of paranoia and mistrust as secrecy surrounding the project reaches new levels, Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
In response to questions from Senator Birmingham, representing the Shadow Minister in the Senate, Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy today revealed he was excluded from the decision to review the secret NBN business plan and won’t release its findings.
It follows revelations today that Penny Wong’s Department of Finance and Deregulation commissioned corporate advisory firm Greenhill Caliburn to review proponent NBN Co’s 30-year business plan as well as its 2010-11 corporate plan.
“This leaked information has today exposed major divisions between the NBN Co’s two shareholders in Senators Conroy and Wong,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“Senator Conroy was given numerous opportunities in Question Time today to state whether he was part of the decision to commission the Greenhill Caliburn review. He refused to do so. His avoidance of this simple matter speaks volumes.
“Senator Conroy’s one straight answer today was a ‘no’ as to whether Greenhill Caliburn’s findings would be released.
“On both counts, this is a major embarrassment to Senator Conroy and his management of the Gillard Government’s costly and questionable NBN plans.
“Clearly, Senator Wong and her Department don’t trust Senator Conroy and his Department to run this process, so why should taxpayers who are funding it?
“Those same taxpayers are being kept in the dark about what Greenhill Caliburn will find and are already being kept in the dark about the NBN business plan itself.
“And the Government is refusing to allow the Productivity Commission to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the NBN, which would allow taxpayers some idea of whether they are being given value for money or the most effective means to deliver fast and affordable broadband to all Australians.
“The Gillard Government’s NBN plans have today sunk to new depths of secrecy and unaccountability, with Minister Conroy’s credibility in tatters and taxpayers to pick up the bill.”