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Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Page: 1511

Senator LUDLAM (5:25 PM) —I seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator LUDLAM —This motion that I am moving today in my name on behalf of the Australian Greens and Senator Simon Birmingham is very simple, and I hope the government will seek leave to make a brief statement as well. In the joint agreement that was signed by the Australian Greens and the Prime Minister, some of the points of agreement were that we would collectively work towards transparent and accountable government and improved process and integrity of parliament. What we are seeing today is the Australian government refusing, if I am to believe the outcome of a press conference the Prime Minister held earlier, to hand over the business model and the business case for the National Broadband Network and to hand over the Australian government’s response to the National Broadband Network implementation study, which was conducted at a cost of $25 million to Australian taxpayers.

While this parliament is meeting this fortnight to discuss matters that are directly relevant to the rollout of the National Broadband Network, it is completely unacceptable for the Prime Minister to say: ‘You can have that document for Christmas. We’ll wait until you have all gone home, and we’ll put it into the public domain then once it has been hit with a black felt marker.’ That is like so much of what falls out of this government these days well after parliament has got up and it is no longer possible to debate it.

In the meantime we are taking a $43 billion project effectively on trust and we are simply being asked to accept the minister’s contention that this is a wonderful project and the numbers all stack up. It will be great to have seen it. It will be great when the public, the industry and the parliament can actually back those figures up by having seen them themselves. It is not acceptable to us that the Australian government would continue to defy these kinds of orders. As part of our agreement with the Prime Minister the Australian Greens will be seeking that the Information Commissioner should be able to resolve these disputes when the parliament and executive clash on matters like this. This is something that we will be bringing to a head now so that the minister cannot continue to defy an order of the Senate. (Time expired)