NBN Co Executive Ziggy Switkowski is fronting a senates committee on Tuesday. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski has refused to hand over an unredacted version of the national broadband network 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 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 releasing it publicly.
“I have concerns about [the committee] accessing the full report,” Dr Switkowski said.
“The parts that have been redacted have been redacted for a reason.”
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull released a redacted version of the strategic review last Thursday. Some parts of the review include revised cost estimates for 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 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”.
Senator Ludlam tweeted a copy of the letter from Turnbull, which was tabled by NBN Co.
“Plainly the NBN Co should not release the unredacted document,” Mr Turnbull said in the 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,” he wrote.
For those reasons, he said “the document should not be released for reasons of public interest immunity".
Dr Switkowski also refused to guarantee any broadband speeds to be delivered by the network. The Coalition had 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 questions that demand us to guarantee anything,” Dr Switkowski said. “It’s clear that after four years of NBN, guarantees have lost currency.”
More to come