'Reluctant' NBN Co execs summoned to Senate committee

'Reluctant' NBN Co execs summoned to Senate committee

Summary: A Labor and Greens dominated NBN senate committee will hold hearings over the next two days that will include appearances from 'reluctant' NBN Co executives.


The newly established Senate Select Committee overseeing the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout will hold its first hearings over the next two days, with appearances from government departments, agencies and NBN Co executives who have been summoned to the hearing.

The committee — which was established earlier this month by Labor senator Kate Lundy and Greens senator Scott Ludlam to replace the joint parliamentary committee on the basis that the opposition and Greens would have more control over the committee — currently only has Labor and Greens senators on it: including Lundy, Ludlam, former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Tasmanian Labor senator Lin Thorp. 

Lundy, who is chairing the committee, said today that NBN Co executive chair, Ziggy Switkowski, NBN Co's head of strategy JB Rousselot, NBN Co's COO Greg Adcock, NBN Co's chief technology officer Gary McLaren, and its CFO Robin Payne were all called before the committee but were "reluctant to attend in person".

"It is with regret that we have had to issue this summons, given the public commitment the government has made to openness and transparency in all matters relating to the NBN," Lundy said.

The committee has now summoned the executives to appear on Friday. The last time this power was exercised by the parliament was when Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe were forced to appear before the IT pricing inquiry in February.

But the hearing will come just as NBN Co is preparing to submit its report from the 60-day strategic review to the government next week, which Switkowski described in a Senate Estimates hearing last week as a hard deadline for the review to be handed back to government but one that NBN Co was on target to meet.

The Department of Communications, the Department of Finance, the CEPU, and the ACMA are all scheduled to appear before the committee tomorrow.

An NBN Co spokesperson was not immediately available for comment at the time of writing.

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU, 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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  • Hard hitting questions

    I hope the Senate committee finds out if the NBN is run politically or technically these days. The exec's better have a good excuse for FTTN. Look forward to reading the transcript.
  • A Network of Secrecy

    The new rulers of the network, who want to turn it into a Half-NBN network, don't want the public to know what they're up to.

    They should be forced to provide information about the poor state of the twisted copper pairs in the ground. You see, whenever it rains, those old cables start crackling.

    There's a way to get a picture of the state of those old cables. You see, when it rains, dominant network Telstra exempts itself from fixing phone lines within the two-day time limit. It demonstrates that the insulation - either old cracked plastic or even cloth - has failed.

    Those pits in the ground, where plastic drink bottles are used to keep water off the cables, will turn into bottomless money pits. A copper network can't be re-laid overnight. It would take more than a decade to get it up to a usable level, where it is capable of being noise-free enough to carry higher download speeds. The upload speeds will always be lousy.
  • Puhlease Explaaain

    Why turning a ubiquitous National Communications Infrastructure project into just another Telco that will be far from ubiquitous or readily upgradeable providing monopoly broadband only services and will require taxpayer subsidy.
    Why a key infrastructure element built by the people for the people and paid for by the user that will benefit all Australia for many decades at minimal operational cost and no cost to the taxpayer is being replaced by a second rate limited partial infrastructure partly by the people for rapacious cherry picking rent seekers that will be subsidised by the taxpayer.
    Why they are setting out to minimise the economic benefit to Australia, not only the end product, but also in the build by shifting billions from wages which will circulate in the economy to purchasing and maintaining over 60,000 foreign made FTTN nodes and installing and replacing 4-8 batteries per node on a regular basis.

    Abel Adamski
    • Nice

      Welcome back Abel - missed you at the last few NBN discussions. Hubert was flying the flag by his lonesome for a while there :)
      • Sorry

        Thanks Ram

        Has to be very rare, Delimeter hasn't had much input either. Family health issues take up a lot of time and still have to earn a quid and try and get SOME sleep. However still talk to people . especially those with NBN, apparently some issues with the phone line an 13, 1300, 1800 numbers. Always refer them to seek out a VOIP provider.

        I feel guilty letting down my country by not being able to fight for its best long term interest.

        But family priorities come first, I am just one small voice
        Abel Adamski
  • "Dominated"?

    I don't know nearly enough about Australian politics, but it seems to me that a committee of 7 in which no party has more than 3 seats can't really be said to be dominated by anybody. It's certainly not guaranteed that the one Green Senator will automatically support whatever the 3 Labor Senators want to do.

    What I don't know is how tight party discipline is in the Australian Senate. Since Senators serve six year terms instead of three and are much less likely to get ministerial appointments than are Representatives, I'm guessing that it's looser than it is in the House, but that's strictly a guess. So, are these committee members going to be free to act in accordance with their own judgement, or will they be taking orders from their party leaders?
    John L. Ries