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Scott Ludlam calls for release of NBN Implementation study

Scott Ludlam calls on the Federal Government to release the $25 million NBN Implementation study on ABC 2 News Breakfast 18/03/10

Source: ABC 2

Date of broadcast: 18/03/10

PRESENTER: The Federal Government so far is resisting calls to release a report assessing the merits of its National Broadband Network plan. The Greens and the Opposition want that $25 million funded study made public. But the Government says it needs time to consider the lengthy report. For more, we're joined by Greens senator Scott Ludlam in Canberra. Good morning.

LUDLAM: Good morning

PRESENTER: On 'Lateline' last 'Lateline' last night Senator Conroy seemed to be saying the Government needed time to digest the report and then he added "if we choose to le lease the report." So there is a chance this report might not see the light of day for 30 years.

LUDLAM: It is characteristic how this Senator has handled the situation. We're debating this bill right now. We were debating it earlier this week and just and just as much as the Government needs to consider the material in the report, actually so does the public and the telecommunications industry.

PRESENTER: Why is there on obligation to release the report?

LUDLAM: Because it wasn't paid for by Minister Stephen Conroy. It was paid for by the taxpayer. This is a $25 million study into a $43 billion infrastructure project. It's absolutely essential that it's placed into the public domain and I can't see any reason at all all if there is material in there that is commercialin confidence, by all means release the rest of the report. If he can expects the cross-benches to roll over and pass this bill without the scrutiny that it deservice he needs to think again.

PRESENTER: Is there no way the Greens also support the bill without seeing this study?

LUDLAM: No. It is more complex than that. There's two bills in play. We need to consider our vote and ironically enough because the Opposition has because the Opposition has got this debate bogged down in a filibuster it's given the Minister a little window of opportunity to reconsider his position and maybe just table the report. I think it is very strongly in the public interest we're able to see what is in the report. It is not just the Green s interested in that material. The whole telecommunications sect or is very interested in what's in there because over the last six months or so any time you've asked a question about the National Broadband National Broadband Network, its pricing model, what it will cost, the Minister has directed us to the implementation study an said wait till you see. That so it's essential that that material is now tabled.

PRESENTER: I Understand there is a 10am deadline for an earlier report to be tabled. Are you expecting that to happen this morning or not?

LUDLAM: I will be pleasantly surprised. We supported the Opposition to put that motion up. Ministers had that that for months. There won't be any excuse that thy I they're still reading it and considering. But it will be quite out of chercter if the Minister tables that study this morning. He is causing quite a bit of harm. There was good of good will in the public and the telecommunications industry for the National Broadband Network. We're in principal quite supportive. It will be a good thing for Australia if that project can be rolled out but the Minister's the Minister's busy burning that program and quite frankly I don't understand what he is up to.

PRESENTER: How does this stack up against Government's commitment to openness and transparency?

LUDLAM: It's not a very good case study. They've seen this material coming. They've had an interim study. They're had the material itself since early March. This is not an open or transparent way to run a several billion dollars worth of infrastructure proect of infrastructure proect project.

PRESENTER: If the Government doesn't release this major report, what kind of action will the Greens be initiating?

LUDLAM: We're not going to be debating the National Broadband Network legislation without this report in the public domain. Nobody else has been able to independently assess the prizing model and the cost benefit analysis and how this project is going to stack up. As I say, we're supportive in principle but there's a huge amount of taxpayers' money on the taxpayers' money on the table here. It would be completely inappropriate for us to even begin the debate on the National Broadband Network bills unless this material is in the public domain.

PRESENTER: But the initial National Broadband Network bill has already passed, hasn't it?

LUDLAM: No, the Government hasn't put that up. We're in the middle - middle over a debate over telecommunications market reform which you will be appear - aware principally is - aware principally is about Telstra. There's an exposure drooft and we have an approximate idea of where the Government is heading but without the cost ing models it's inappropriate to proceed.

PRESENTER: Just finally, does the cost of the implementation study sound exorbitant to you as well?

LUDLAM: We'll wait and see. I understand it's a weighty document. When you consider it's billions of dollars worth it's billions of dollars worth of infrastructure up to $43 billion the Government's estimated, I don't think it's inappropriate to study it very, very carefully. If the economics of the project stack up, this is something we will be rolling out over the next 10 or 15 years. I don't think it's inappropriate to get it right in the first instance but it is also not appropriate for the Government to say trust us, we will table it if we feel like #i9 it. That is not the way the Senate Senate work.

PRESENTER: Thanks for talking to us this morning.

LUDLAM: Thank you.

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