NBN Co boss refuses to release full report
NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski has refused to hand over an unredacted version of the national broadband network (NBN) strategic review, citing confidentiality issues and ministerial advice.
At an NBN Senate Select Committee hearing at the NSW State Library on Tuesday, former communications minister Stephen Conroy requested that NBN Co table to the committee an unredacted version of the review.
The review of NBN Co and of Labor's fibre-to-the-premises model was ordered by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull soon after the Coalition won the federal election. The review was delivered to Mr Turnbull on December 3 and was released publicly with redactions last week.
The motion to table the unredacted review was supported by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Labor Senator Deborah O'Neill.
Dr Switkowski refused the request, saying he had "concerns about [the committee] accessing the full report". "The parts that have been redacted have been redacted for a reason," he said.
Some parts of the review include revised cost estimates for the fibre-to-the-premises network rollout. It indicates savings could be achieved with productivity improvements. It also includes costs to upgrade the hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network to faster speeds.
Dr Switkowski said NBN Co had sought advice from Mr Turnbull on releasing the review without redactions. Mr Turnbull's response "confirmed we are not able to provide the full report at this time", Dr Switkowski said.
"Plainly NBN Co should not release the unredacted document," Mr Turnbull said in a letter to NBN Co.
"It was prepared for the government, has been released with limited redactions and the full unredacted document remains cabinet-in-confidence.
"Further, any release would prejudice legal proceedings and damage the commercial interests of the government, including during ongoing contractual negotiations."
In September, Mr Turnbull committed to transparency when releasing NBN reports and forecasts.
"We will ensure NBN Co is as transparent or indeed more transparent than a publicly listed company," he said then.
Dr Switkowski also refused to guarantee any broadband speeds delivered by the network.
The Coalition's fibre-to-the-node policy promised a rollout with minimum speeds of 25 megabits per second by 2016, and 50 megabits per second three years later in 2019.
"I do not buy [into] questions that demand us to guarantee anything," Dr Switkowski said. "It's clear that after four years of NBN, guarantees have lost currency."