Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin has blasted the government for what appeared to be conflicting statements on whether national broadband network bid documents would be made available to members of parliament this week.
Minister Nick Minchin
Deputy Prime Minister Gillard was asked a question yesterday in the House of Representatives on the NBN, to which she replied: "The outcome of the tender round will be available and will be transparent for all members of the House later in the week."
Minchin honed in on this answer yesterday, asking for clarification.
"At the minimum, these comments suggest the Government, soon after bids close on Wednesday, will publicly release details of the proposals received in line with its commitment to transparency," Minchin said yesterday in a statement.
However, when pushed today in question time by Minchin, Conroy told the Senate that the government will not be providing the Australian public with any details on the network, according to the shadow minister.
Conroy told the Senate that any confirmation of tenders going in would have to come from the bidders themselves and attempted to deny that Gillard had made her statement, Minchin claimed.
Some of the bidders have said, however, that they will not be making announcements because of the Government's request that bidders not talk about the bid.
"Here we have a minister, despite claiming to be committed to an open and transparent process, who has no intention of making public the outcome of his own tender process, despite the level of taxpayer funding involved," Minchin said.
"Senator Conroy wants to spend up to $4.7 billion of taxpayers' money on the NBN, yet does not believe he even has an obligation to tell the Australian public who has responded to the NBN tender."
Conroy's spokesperson could not be reached for a response.
But wait, there's more
Minchin also took the opportunity today to shoot down Labor's plan to implement ISP-level internet content filtering, saying it was misguided and deeply unpopular.
"Labor's plan to implement a mandatory internet filter at ISP level has been roundly attacked with valid concerns raised about its likely effectiveness, the adverse impact it would have on internet speeds and performance and also the precise nature of the content the Government plans to filter," he said in a statement.
"There is no technical substitute for appropriate adult supervision when it comes to keeping our children safe online and most parents and teachers take that responsibility very seriously and any suggestions to the contrary are patronising and offensive."
Minchin said concerns had been made worse by Conroy's talk of filtering inappropriate and not only illegal content. The opposition senator additionally claimed that Conroy's policy was causing Australia embarrassment internationally, giving it a reputation as a repressive regime.