Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has rejected suggestions that his personal relationship — including the co-ownership of a boat — with a senior NBN Co executive, will influence the organisation's operations.
Turnbull is due to release a National Broadband Network (NBN) strategic review on Thursday, a document that has been compiled under the company's head of strategy and transformation, JB Rousselot.
Federal Labor on Wednesday highlighted the minister's co-ownership of a yacht with Rousselot.
"Given this fact, how can we believe anything that this report says?" Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare asked.
Turnbull was flattered to hear his "ancient couta boat" referred to as a yacht, before defending Rousselot's credentials.
"JB Rousselot has done an outstanding job in heading the transformation and review at the NBN Co, and I would have thought that the honourable members opposite had a little more class than to sink to the character assassination," Turnbull told parliament.
The minister said Rousselot, an engineer, is well qualified for his role with NBN Co, having worked in the telecommunications sector for more than a decade.
Rousselot was absent from a hearing of the Senate Select committee on the NBN due to the company working to finalise the strategic review ahead of its release tomorrow.
In the hearing on Wednesday morning, former Labor Communications Minister Stephen Conroy took to task a "smart-arse" NBN Co chief marketing officer Kieren Cooney, who questioned whether there was a quorum for the hearing at Parliament House.
"Anytime you want to wander down and be a smart arse in the chamber of the Senate or the parliament ... you will discover that they don't operate with 19 senators in the chamber at all times," he said.
When Cooney moved to close down the hearing, he was told that only senators, not those fronting the committee, were entitled to make the quorum call.
"So much for NBN Co wanting to participate and have scrutiny," Conroy said, adding that its executives had a responsibility to answer all of his questions because they are paid by the taxpayers.
Conroy's initial frustration stemmed from the executives' refusal to acknowledge documents that had been leaked from NBN Co.
Turnbull said in Question Time that all would be revealed tomorrow.
"Tomorrow, we will hear the truth about the NBN. The Labor party does not want to hear it," Turnbull said.
The Register of Members' Interests today revealed that Turnbull has invested in at least three overseas telecommunications companies: Telefonica in Spain, as well as Clearwire and Sprint in the United States.