Monday, 19 June 2017 12:17

Patton claims Morrow defamed him, demands apology Featured

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Internet Australia executive director Laurie Patton is demanding an apology from NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow, claiming that the latter has defamed him under parliamentary privilege.

Patton said that Morrow had made statements before Senate Estimates several weeks ago.

"He had the second of two 'brain farts'... and made false and defamatory remarks about Internet Australia and me under the cloak of parliamentary privilege," Patton said.

"My right of reply has been published by the Senate Select Committee on Environment and Communications, and, of course, also has privilege."

Morrow made the alleged offending remarks during a conversation with Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

Laurie Patton.

Laurie Patton: seeking an apology.

Patton said the NBN Co chief should apologise or else be sacked. "Internet Australia has called on the Prime Minister (Malcolm Turnbull) to demand the head of NBN Co apologise for, and retract, false and defamatory remarks made under Parliamentary Privilege," he said.

"IA’s chair, Anne Hurley, who has herself been subjected to personal attacks by NBN Co, believes it is time the government put a leash on NBN Co and its CEO."

Hurley said: "Rather than deal with the very real and increasing complaints about the product, Mr Morrow and his team of PR spinners would prefer to attack people making genuine and evidence-based calls for change."

Patton added; "There's no excuse for the head of a government enterprise to be allowed to use parliamentary privilege to attack people simply because they draw attention to serious issues, in this case the inferior technology choices being pursued by NBN Co and their negative economic and social consequences for Australia.

If Morrow failed to apologise and retract his comments, Patton called for him to be sacked.

“If the government doesn’t act I’ll have no alternative but to request that the Senate take action. For my part, I passionately believe Australia needs a 21st century NBN if we are to maintain our place as one of the most advanced and prosperous nations in the G20.

"On Internet Australia’s behalf, and on behalf of all Internet users, I have merely sought to draw attention to obvious flaws in the current NBN strategy — flaws that are increasingly reflected in customer complaints — and to provide solutions based on expert advice available to me through IA.

"I’ve raised my concerns directly with the Prime Minister and with the Leader of the Opposition. Each has listed respectfully to what I’ve had to say. On the other hand, Mr Morrow thinks it appropriate to use parliamentary privilege to attack me and the board of Internet Australia, rather than heed what we are saying."

Contacted for Morrow's reaction, an NBN Co spokesperson said: "We will not be making any comment on the matter addressed in your inquiry."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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