The Australian Greens, surprised by the Government’s refusal to release the $25 million McKinsey Implementation study, are threatening to vote down crucial telco legislation.
The McKinsey implementation study, which was provided to the Government recently, looked at the operating arrangements of the National Broadband Network (NBN) with details regarding network design and finance.
A Senate motion by the Greens on March 10 ordered the Government to produce the study by 10am this morning, but it was not obeyed.
“I’m actually surprised they’ve been so reckless as to deny the order,” Greens communications spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, said. “It’s a $25m study into the largest infrastructure project that’s ever been proposed.
“It’s unacceptable that the only independent study into it has been suppressed.”
But the Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has rejected the move and said it would be premature to release the report before it was analysed by the Government.
“The Government received the report on Friday 5 March,” he said in a statement. “It is sensible, responsible and appropriate for governments to take some time to consider reports they receive before decisions are made about release and next steps.
He went on to criticise the Coalition’s support for the motion and labelled it as hypocritical.
“The Howard Government on many occasions either failed to release reports or studies they were provided, or did so after a significant period of time,” Conroy said. “For them to now criticise the Government for a lack of transparency and for not releasing the Implementation Study after having received it on 5 March, less than two weeks ago, is the height of hypocrisy.”
The Government’s refusal comes on the back of media reports that a CSIRO study previously quoted by Senator Conroy was a seven-page pamphlet that used Wikipedia in its citations.
“If that’s all the Government’s relied on to crash the original request for tender (RFT) and move to a project 10 times larger, it rings serious alarm bells,” Ludlam said. “Unless they release corroborating evidence, then the Minister is just expecting us to trust him on the NBN and under the circumstances trust is in pretty short supply.”
Although the Greens previously backed the Government in its move to allow debate on Telstra’s separation, Ludlam said it was with the understanding the study would be released.
“We’ll wait until we see the statement the Minister releases about its intentions and then we’ll consider our voting options. We’re happy for the debate to proceed but we’re reserving all our options on the Telstra and the NBN debate,” he added.
“[If releasing the study] is not going to be the government’s strategy, then we’ll certainly adjust ours as well. It’s absolutely a possibility that we’ll vote against it.”