Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has demanded that the Strategic Review of the NBN, presented to the Government on 2 December, be tabled in the Senate by noon on Monday 9 December.
He will not get his way. Malcolm Turnbull has said he will release the document “next week,” which could be as late as Friday 13 December. He did not say how complete the release would be – NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski has already said some material would be redacted as been commercial-in-confidence.
But Turnbull did point to the continuing weekly releases of NBN ‘actual rollout statistics’ as proof of the Government’s openness. “We are being thoroughly transparent. Next week we will release the Strategic Review. We are publishing every week the actual rollout statistics. Instead of fudging and hiding and dissembling, they are being published every single week.”
Turnbull also referred to comments made by former NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley when he defended the NBN at a TelSoc meeting on Monday. “Michael Quigley was asked whether he thought, on reflection, that he should have set targets that were somewhat more conservative. He said: ‘The timescales are already set for you, so there is not much you can do.' The previous government forced the NBN to tell the government what it wanted to hear.”
Turnbull did not listen to Quigley’s talk (even getting the date wrong), but had he done so he would also have heard that Quigley said that the targets were nevertheless achievable, and that the project had suffered no more problems than is normal in any large telecommunications project of that nature.
“To the Labor Party, the only thing that mattered was the announcement, the media opportunity, the press release. So again they misled the Australian people.”
By that standard, we can expect that the Strategic Review we will see next week will be an objective document dispassionately outlining the state of play with the NBN.