Thursday, 18 November 2010
- That there be laid on the table by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (Senator Conroy), by 22 November 2010, the following documents relating to the National Broadband Network:
- the complete text of the departmental ‘Red Book’ advice provided to the incoming Government about the National Broadband Network (NBN), including text ‘blacked out’ in the version of the ‘Red Book’ publicly released on 16 November 2010 and, including in particular, text reflecting NBN Co’s view of any recommendations made in the McKinsey and Company and KPMG Implementation Study;
- in respect of sites chosen for early roll-out of the NBN:
- the criteria (including engineering advice) used as the basis for choosing each of the stage 1 and seven stage 2 sites in Tasmania (to which the Minister referred to in Senate Estimates on 25 May 2010), and
- the ‘commercial, construction and local authority acceptance criteria’ (to which reference is made on p. 12 of the NBN Co annual report for 2009-10, tabled in the Senate on 15 November 2010) used as the basis for choosing each of the first and second release sites around the rest of Australia; and
- the agreed set of enterprise bargaining agreement principles ‘signed and agreed by the ACTU, coordinating right through with the CEPU and a range of other unions’ (to which the Minister referred to in Senate Question Time on 15 November 2010) and on which the Minister based his reassurance (also made during Senate Question Time on 15 November 2010) that ‘there is no suggestion at all that there would be a wages blow-out’ in rolling out the NBN.
The request for these documents clearly relates to the National Broadband Network. The government has in its possession each and every one of the documents requested. It has in its possession the red book with bits blacked out. All that the motion seeks is the production of the red book with the blacked out bits not blacked out so that people can read them and the criteria that the government used for assessing the early roll-out sites for the National Broadband Network, firstly in Tasmania and secondly on the mainland, and the documents showing the application of that criteria to each and all of the first roll-out sites, both in Tasmania and nationally.
Finally, the motion seeks a copy of the heads of agreement, apparently signed and agreed by the ACTU, covering wages for the construction of the National Broadband Network. The ACTU agreed to and signed heads of agreement which the minister cited in his answer to this Senate during question time on Monday. The ACTU heads of agreement, which the minister must have sighted—i.e., seen—given that he relied upon it to reassure the Senate.
‘That is’, thank you, Senator. He must have seen it and read it, given that he relied upon it to reassure the Senate and the Australian people that there would be no wages blow-out in the building of the National Broadband Network. You have it, Minister. Show it to us and show it to the Australian people. There is nothing new here. Just do a bit of photocopying over the weekend. Press the green button on the photocopier and provide these three sets of documents to the Senate. (Time expired)
by leave—I will indicate very briefly why we have sought to have these two parts put separately. I think Senator Fisher is entirely reasonable in seeking the matters listed in (a) and (b), for the reasons she set out, but I think it is curious—that may be too mild a term—for the Senate, based on a line that the minister read in a committee statement, to start going on fishing expeditions, pardon the pun, for agreements being made by the trade unions representing the workers who will be installing the Broadband Network. We will not be supporting part (c).
Question agreed to.