Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin has introduced a private members' bill to subject the Government's $43 billion National Broadband Network to a cost/benefit analysis by Infrastructure Australia.
Minchin's bill attempts to amend the Infrastructure Australia Bill 2008, which would bring the National Broadband Network into the scope of the body's assessment and would result in the Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy being compelled to outline how the project was assessed and subsequently release details in parliament.
Infrastructure Australia currently oversees the allocation of the $2.4 billion collected from Telstra's privatisation, which currently sits within in the Building Australia Fund.
"Labor has said its original failed NBN Mark I proposal was immune from [Infrastructure Australia] scrutiny because it was an election promise," Minchin said in a statement yesterday. "This lame excuse does not cut it for NBN Mark II, as it is an entirely different and vastly more expensive proposal."
Minchin targeted Section 5 of the Act, which relates to Infrastructure Australia's duty to evaluate proposals for investment in "nationally significant infrastructure".
"This bill ... is designed to ensure that some degree of proper scrutiny and due diligence is applied to a project that will put at risk billions of taxpayer dollars," Minchin said.
The private members' bill follows a Freedom of Information request by Minchin to access the NBN Expert Panel documents and advice provided by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which led to it ditching the $4.7 billion NBN proposal.
Earlier this month Minchin succeeded in his effort to have the Australian National Audit Office interrogate the first tender process, with the report due by mid 2010.
If Minchin decided to activate the bill he would still need the support of the Greens and independents to create a debate. There would also be no obligation for the House of Representatives to consider it.