Communications Minister Stephen Conroy faced a hostile Senate again today, repeatedly skirting questions on the NBN business plan and confidential briefings offered to key independents.
Conroy faced a barrage of questions from Coalition Senators. He was asked when he received the NBN Co business plan; whether he had identified the confidential parts of the plan before offering confidential briefings to independent Senators and before it drew up non-disclosure agreements for the independents to sign; and whether the NBN plan had been considered by cabinet earlier today.
"How could it take a competent government 14 days to read a 400-page document?" Liberal Senator George Brandis asked.
Brandis then put to Conroy that it appeared "beyond the competency" of the Government to read "more than 29 pages a day".
Conroy responded saying the Opposition was not interested in the detail of the NBN, only in "destroying" it.
On the topic of whether cabinet had met this morning to discuss the NBN business plan, Conroy said he didn't "think it's ever been the practice of any Minister or government to reveal when cabinet meets or, more importantly, what the agenda of cabinet" was.
New bill to be introduced
Conroy's comments came after he revealed he would introduce legislation that "set out the regulatory framework for the NBN" to the Lower House later this week.
He said the National Broadband Network Companies Bill 2010 "was crucial to ensuring the NBN operated as an open-access, wholesale-only network, to drive retail-level competition for Australian consumers."
Conroy also repeated the Government's commitment to sell down NBN Co, despite a deal brokered with the Greens that meant parliament would now vote on the proposal before any sale was offered.