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Thursday, 18 November 2010
Page: 1609

Senator FISHER (12:45 PM) —I have two quick comments to add to my colleague’s contribution to this debate. Firstly, the government is in absolutely no hurry to release the business case. So why should this Senate be in any hurry to consider the legislation that the government wants the Senate to consider? Why should this Senate be in any hurry, particularly when Minister Conroy told us at estimates that the legislation was irrelevant to the build of the NBN?

The minister told us on 25 May at Senate estimates:

The National Broadband Network is commencing and being deployed irrespective of whether or not legislation is passed or not passed by parliament. It does not require parliament to pass it.

Senator FISHER—

that would be me—

Is the legislation irrelevant to the building of the NBN?

Senator Conroy—Yes, completely.

Why the hurry? The government is in no hurry to release the business case. This Senate, on the minister’s own testimony, need be in no hurry to consider, or indeed pass or not pass, the legislation that the government wants considered.

Secondly, I do urge the Independents not to be bought off by the cheap offer from the government of a briefing. The Independents have constituents, and those constituents are de facto shareholders whether they like being forced into bed or not—they have been forced into bed with this government by this government—in the build of the National Broadband Network. For as long as the government refuses to divulge information, those constituents and the Australian electorate would have to be thinking about hopping out of bed.

Finally, for as long as the government continues to surround the National Broadband Network with this shroud of secrecy, the only thing that is clear about the National Broadband Network is that NBN does not stand for National Broadband Network. ‘NBN’ continues to stand for ‘no body (k)nows’.