The Federal Opposition yesterday failed in a bid to force the Government to immediately release the business plan for the National Broadband Network.
At 74-71, the Opposition had more votes than the Government, but the motion was lost because it did not have the required absolute majority of House votes of 76.
The Coalition had been joined by the Greens in demanding the business plan be released before Parliament rises for summer next week. The Government has said it needs more time to digest the complex 400-page report, and it will release an edited version in December, after Parliament rises for a lengthy summer recess.
The Coalition’s attempt to have the Productivity Commission examine NBN project also failed to get up.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott poured scorn on the Government attitude, saying, “Given that a bank would not lend a dollar for a project without first seeing a business case, how can [PM Julia Gillard] possibly expect this Parliament to approve the biggest infrastructure project in Australia’s history without first seeing the business case?”
But Gillard was equally as scathing, noting the Opposition when in government had declined to refer projects to the Productivity Commission: “Let’s not have this cant, this hypocrisy, this forgetting of the past from an Opposition that wouldn’t know what the national interest was if it stumbled over it,” quoth the PM.
– In the Senate an Opposition motion to gag Comms and Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy – now that’s surely a mission impossible – Ed. – also failed, by 36 votes to 34. The motion, to gag Conroy unless he produced the report immediately, was supported by independent senators Xenophon and Fielding but in this case opposed by the Greens.