Senate slams 'obfuscating' Conroy on NBN

Liberal Senators have slammed Communications Minister Stephen Conroy for "weaving and ducking" questions about the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Senate question time today.

Liberal Senators have slammed Communications Minister Stephen Conroy for "weaving and ducking" questions about the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Senate question time today.

Conroy faced sustained attacks from Liberal Senators calling for the immediate release of the NBN business case. He was also lampooned for the revelation that the government had commissioned independent experts Greenhill Caliburn to examine the documents before it is made public in December.

Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham questioned the minister as to whether the report into the business case would be made public, however his delay in responding also drew criticism from Liberal Senator George Brandis.

"This is, as you appreciate, completely hopeless. The minister was asked one question: will the document be released, yes or no? It's not possible for the minister to address that question by carrying on in the manner in which he has been carrying on for a minute and 10 seconds," Brandis said.

Conroy remained defiant about releasing any new details on the business case or the Greenhill Caliburn report.

"To complete my answer, my answer is no," Conroy said.

Liberal Senator Sue Boyce said Conroy was "obfuscating" question time in avoiding direct answers to questions about the NBN, while Senator Judith Troeth labelled Conroy's actions "a travesty", the likes of which she had never seen in her time in parliament.

"Senator Conroy wove his way and dived into questions without the faintest attempt to answer them," she said. "He laughs his way through every question and makes a joke of what should be very serious economic questions."

During the Senate debate on the telecommunications reform legislation earlier in the day, Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher said there was no rush to pass the legislation on the Coalition's side.

"[The government] are in no hurry to subject this NBN to any scrutiny," Fisher told the upper house.

"Unless and until the government makes some effort to deliver accountability and transparency, there is no hurry and no haste for this Senate to consider this legislation."

Fisher also criticised the government's failure to act on a Senate order to produce the NBN business case.

"All the minister had to do over the weekend just gone ... was ask someone to press the green button on the photocopier — that is all," Fisher said.

Conroy was briefly in the chamber to hear the targeted attack during the debate, although it was his departure that was relished by the opposition.

"I note the minister's departing the chamber," Fisher said.

"I presume that he's feeling rather shamefaced and is now going to press green on the photocopier," she said, referring to the fact that he would soon have to provide a copy of the business case.

"Look forward to delivering, minister," she called.

AAP contributed to this article

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