Conroy Accepts Blame, but Hardly Instils Confidence

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Stephen Conroy has today in Senate Question Time accepted blame for his monumental blunder which resulted in the public release of confidential ACCC information relating to the value of Telstra network assets, but instils little confidence.

Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Nick Minchin said: “The perverse irony is Senator Conroy has mistakenly released confidential information that he shouldn’t have, but refuses to release information that he should.”

Senator Minchin said the onus remains on Senator Conroy to provide evidence that the Government’s $43 NBN Mark II is based on some semblance of credible advice.

“Senator Conroy and Mr Rudd have repeatedly claimed that they were simply following an expert panel’s advice when they recklessly committed to their $43 billion NBN Mark II.

“Yet, there is nothing in any of the information released by the Minister to support these assertions,” Senator Minchin said.

Senator Conroy has released just 16 pages of his NBN expert panel’s 893-page report which relates to his fatally flawed NBN Mark I tender process and nothing of substance.

“In addition we know about, but have yet to see, a mysterious letter which the expert panel apparently provided to the Minister outlining the ‘way forward’ referred to in the extracts of the report that he has released,” Senator Minchin said.

“I have seen absolutely nothing to suggest that NBN Mark II is anything other than a breath-taking example of policy-on-the-run, dreamt up to deflect attention way from the collapse of the NBN Mark I tender process.”

Senator Minchin today questioned whether the Minister’s serious breach of confidentiality will undermine NBN negotiations between the Government and Telstra, which could be to the detriment of Australian taxpayers and Telstra’s 1.4 million shareholders.

“After this embarrassing episode, why should other telecommunications companies and utilities trust this Minister with the handling of their sensitive network information which the Government wants to acquire for the conduct of the NBN implementation study?”