NBN Co forced to open up by Greens deal

NBN Co forced to open up by Greens deal

Summary: The National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) will now be subject to freedom of information (FOI) laws after a successful negotiation between the Greens and the government, Greens Party Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam announced today.

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TOPICS: NBN, Broadband
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update The National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) will now be subject to freedom of information (FOI) laws after a successful negotiation between the Greens and the government, Greens Party Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam announced today.

The Greens and the Opposition have been critical of the exemption that allowed NBN Co to be exempt from FOI laws despite being government-owned because it is an incorporated company. Other government-owned entities such as Medicare or Australia Post are not exempt.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has previously defended the rules, stating that the FOI exemption was "ordinary business".

Ludlam said he had successfully negotiated amendments to NBN Co's governance arrangements after raising concerns about the company charged with rolling out the government's $37.5 billion NBN project being exempt from transparency rules.

"The NBN Co should be held to the same standards of transparency as any other government company," Ludlam said in a statement. "We have negotiated with the government and they have agreed NBN Co will be listed as a prescribed authority under the Freedom of Information Act."

Material relating to confidential commercial information would still be exempt from FOI laws, if NBN Co could successfully argue that the information was commercial in confidence.

"Effectively, this means NBN Co will be subject to the same level of transparency as Medibank and Australia Post and also provided the same level of protection for material that is genuinely commercially sensitive," Ludlam said.

In a statement, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's office said the government would support amendments to the Corporations Act to ensure that NBN Co was treated as any other government-owned business and thus subject to FOI laws.

Updated at 12:15pm, 24 February 2011: comment added from Conroy's office.

Topics: NBN, Broadband

About

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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  • A good result, whilst some commercial information should be confidential as it could hurt third party private business, I think we have the right as taxpayers to see our investment dollars being well spent.
    mwil19-a34f7
  • The main thing about FOI laws, is its an independent government body that decides what is COI, and not NBNCo

    A company that is under FOI must submit all information to the government, and its the government that decides what is COI (and therefore not to be released). Otherwise NBNCo could have deemed whatever they want to be COI
    deteego
    • Yes but given the government is the owner of this network, it does pose the question of objectivity.
      Blank Look
      • Well FOI documents are sent to the attorney generals office (http://www.ag.gov.au/www/agd/agd.nsf/page/Freedom_of_Information) and its spokesman is Robert McCelland

        I am actually not fully sure that the attorney generals office is independant, but its spokesperson (Robert McClelland) is from ALP, and made blunders here
        http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/no-minister-90-of-web-snoop-document-censored-to-stop--premature-unnecessary-debate-20100722-10mxo.html and regarding the whole Julian Assange debacle
        deteego