Senate agrees to seek out NBN plan


Has Gillard jumped the gun?

Greens and independent senators have attacked the Government over reports it will not hand over the NBN business plan until next month, despite a Senate order compelling them to do so by the end of the week.

The Senate this evening passed the motion brought by the Greens to force the Government to release the NBN business plan and the Government's response to the $25m NBN implementation study this week before Senators are due to debate the Telstra split bill.

But reports have emerged on ABC News that Prime Minister Julia Gillard has ruled out making the documents public until after parliament finishes sittings for the year.

The suggestion earned a rebuke by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

"If reports are to be believed, the Australian Government is refusing to hand over the business model and case for the NBN and refusing to hand over the Australian Government's response to the NBN implementation study," Ludlam said.

"It's completely unacceptable while this parliament is meeting this fortnight and debating this issue for the Prime Minister to say 'You can have that document for Christmas. We'll wait until you've all gone home, and once it's been hit by the black felt marker and well after parliament has gone up and can no longer debate it [we'll release it]," he said.

The motion also attracted "strong support" from key South Australian independent Senator Nick Xenophon.

"For those who believe in the NBN, the Government is alienating those supporters," he said.

"It is burning up goodwill.

"I find it extraordinary these documents won't be made available and that we'll be asked to make decisions in an information vacuum [which] is unacceptable."

The Government had until the end of the week to comply with the Senate motion or find itself in contempt of the Senate.

Opposition Communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull also added his voice late today to the tide of criticism over Gillard's announcement.

"It is increasingly plain how desperate Labor has become to shield the NBN from appropriate scrutiny," he said.

"The Government will say or do anything to obstruct transparency and avert independent analysis of the most expensive public infrastructure project in Australian history."

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Senate agrees to seek out NBN plan
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