Just 2 out of 35 NBN Co FOIs successful

Just 2 out of 35 NBN Co FOIs successful

Summary: NBN Co has been cleared of any misuse of FOI law, yet only two of the 35 FOI requests were completely successful.

TOPICS: NBN, Australia

A review of NBN Co's Freedom of Information (FOI) processes by Stuart Morris QC found that NBN Co has complied with FOI processes, and is not misusing the "commercial activities" exemption, despite only two of 35 FOI requests being completely successful.

Morris' report (PDF), tabled in parliament last night, looked at 35 FOI requests made between the period of 11 June 2011 to 31 May 2012 to the company charged with rolling out Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN). Of these requests, 17 were withdrawn, three were refused, four found no documents, four had partial access granted, one was deferred, one was transferred and three had yet to be finalised.

One of the requests was treated as two separate requests.

The requests ranged from information about the Optus-NBN Co deal to Internode's request to be provided with the full details of the AU$11 billion Telstra deal with NBN Co, and questions of employee remuneration to the cost of the fibre-extension process beyond the existing fibre footprint.

Morris found that NBN Co has complied with the FOI Act, and responded to requests in a timely and professional manner that tended to adopt a "pro-disclosure" view on releasing documents. He said that there was no reason why NBN Co should change the way it exempts certain documents related to commercial activities.

"My review of the operation of the FOI Act in relation to the NBN Co does not reveal any basis to change the 'commercial activities' exemption," he said. "There is no basis to conclude that the broad nature of 'commercial activities' exemption has been abused; or that it has had the effect of unreasonably broadening the field of exempt documents."

He said that if the exemption was confined, this would make it more complex to deal with future FOI requests, and added that NBN Co had achieved a "high standard" in meeting FOI obligations.

"I find that the high standard achieved by NBN Co in relation to its FOI Act obligations are, in no small part, due to the competence and training of the FOI officer engaged by NBN Co," Morris said.

Josh Taylor participated in the review process, but the FOI request from ZDNet Australia in relation to the Huawei ban was not included as part of this report, as it is still ongoing at the time of the review.

Topics: NBN, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Strangely left out of his bio for the report

    Morris was a former ALP member and candidate. Surprising how small the group is around such a massive project.

    "Deemed withdrawals" would be an interesting follow up.
    Richard Flude
    • So you think he lied about it?

      And lets not forget he's a lawyer just like Juliar!!! Wheels within wheels!! *checks tinfoil hat*
    • So you think he lied about it?

      And lets not forget he's a lawyer just like Juliar!!! Wheels within wheels!! *checks tinfoil hat*
  • Strangely known?

    How would anyone (unless politics is their one and only motive) even know this about Morris?
  • RS-ef540 typically calls me stupid / uneducated

    Today I'm mocked as knowing too much. An improvement I guess;-)

    The more we learn, the more interesting the project don't you think?
    Richard Flude
    • Mutual learning Richard! No one (not even the conservatives ;) know it all.


      If you truly believe I referred to you as stupid, I apologise as that was not my intention!

      However I can assure you I have never actually called you 'stupid', so please review and then retract.

      I have called you uneducated imo, in relation to the NBN, because your comments were indeed uneducated and incorrect. E.g. claiming taxpayer funded NBN - but as you now know, since becoming educated on that issue (thanks not required) you now refer to it as taxpayer risk...

      But seriously, as for knowing which political party someone has had associations with at some stage in the past... simply solidifies imo, my claims that you are not opposed to the NBN per se`, what you are opposed to is the politics of the NBN, as an obvious Coalition supporter.

      That's cool, but please just say so, rather than making already disproved comments with such obvious political connotations.

      Look if Turnbull could produce a comprehensive plan which would do similar to the NBN for less $'s and similar benefits, I would embrace it - why wouldn't I? Because believe what you want but my support is for the NBN not Labor. However as an NBN supporter I am obviously, by default, a current Labor voter (but I can assure you, that it was not always the case).

      BTW... thank you for educating me in relation to Mr Morris. Sometimes regardless of who's in power, when you scratch the surface it marvellous what you can find in relation what would certainly appear to be jobs for the boys

      • Umm Dick...

        I apologised and simply asked for a retraction Richard...

        Apparently decency and fair play are foreign to the anti-NBN/Coalition pawns and only part of the Pro-NBN vernacular?

        Oh well I tried :-(