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Establishment of Select Committee on the NBN

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (11:01): I seek leave to make a brief statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator LUDLAM: I am pleased to be able to co-sign this motion with Senator Lundy to establish a select committee into the NBN. On 17 October I wrote to our new communications minister, Mr Turnbull, congratulating him on his appointment and asking him his intentions for re-establishing the Joint NBN Committee, which I, government members, coalition members, and Senator Xenophon were involved in creating an oversight committee to watchdog the rollout of the NBN, which, as we know, was very popular but was also troubled. The committee played quite a valuable role under the chairmanship of Mr Oakeshott.

While in opposition Mr Turnbull participated in that committee. I think all members who participated got value out of it. I had no response from Mr Turnbull. He has not re-established the Joint NBN Committee and I do not believe he that he seeks to. That is why this select committee is necessary-to police, to the degree that we can, the shambles that is now being presided over, as anybody with any knowledge of construction of that network is being washed out of the organisation. It is absolutely essential for an investment of this scale, given the privatisation mentality that this government seems to be bringing to the debate, that we salvage whatever we can from the wreckage that Mr Turnbull is now presiding over. So I would encourage members from all sides of this chamber to participate and to do what we can to retrieve the best we can from the wreckage of this government's broadband policy.


Senator Scott Ludlam

Senator Kate Lundy

I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

(1) That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on the National Broadband Network, be established to inquire into and report on the Government's reviews of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the governance of NBN Co, with interim reports as the Committee sees fit and a final on or before 10 June 2014, with particular reference to:

(a) the establishment of the Government's strategic review of the NBN including:

(i) the adequacy of the terms of reference,

(ii) the selection of personnel and expert advisers to the review,

(iii) the data provided to the strategic review, in particular, any variation between that data and data used by NBN Co in preparing its Annual report and Corporate Plan, and

(iv) the impact of the strategic review on the operational effectiveness of NBN Co;

(b) the outcome of the strategic review of the NBN including:

(i) the extent to which the review fulfilled its terms of reference,

(ii) the reliability of assumptions made in the review, including, inter alia, the cost of alternative network equipment, the revenues of NBN Co under alternative scenarios, construction requirements and access to Telstra's copper network, and

(iii) the implications of any alternatives considered for the long term structure of the industry, in particular, the structural separation of access networks from retail operations,

(iv) any other matters arising from the strategic review.

(c) the establishment and findings of the Government' s cost benefit analysis;

(d) the conduct and findings of the Government survey of the availability of broadband in Australia; and

(e) any related matter;

(2) That the committee consist of 7 senators, 3 nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, 3 nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and 1 nominated by the Australian Greens.

(3) That:

(a) participating members may be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator;

(b) participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee; and

(c) that three members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee.

(4) That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that not all members have been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.

(5) That the committee elect as chair a member nominated by the Leader of the Opposition and as deputy chair, a member nominated by the Leader of the Government.

(6) That the deputy chair shall act as chair when the chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant.

(7) That the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, may appoint another member of the committee to act as chair during the temporary absence of both the chair and deputy chair at a meeting of the committee.

(8) That, in the event of an equally divided vote, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote.

(9) That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of 3 or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to examine.

(10) That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings, the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit.

(11) That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the president.

(12) That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such documents and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public.

Scott Ludlam Senator for Western Australia

Kate Lundy Senator for Australian Capital Territory

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