Senate Hearing Lost in the Detail

Senator Stephen Conroy focused a lot on the minutiae at last week’s public hearings of the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network.

For example, he asked Dr Ziggy Switkowski, new to the chairmanship of NBNCo, how they would manage the transition of voice customers in a fibre to the node network. The reply was that he’s not across the detail but these things have been managed all over the world, so there will be a way.

It was like that over the entire two days. The senator quizzed representatives from the Communications and Finance Departments over the impacts of the governments proposed changes to revenue and costs. The only person who wasn’t subject to scrutiny was Shane Murphy from the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, who presented a slideshow on the poor state of the Telstra copper network.

Curiously, Senator Conroy spent little time discussing the impacts on the economy. Wasn’t the reason for building an NBN in the first place?
This week’s CrossTalk summarises the events of the two days. It’s a 25 minute homage for those people who didn’t take the time off work to watch it unfold in its entirety. Or for those who want to relive some of the golden moments.

In amongst the soundbites from the hearing, Phil Dobbie asks whether the technology focus of Conroy’s era still exists today. NBNCo has delivered its review to Malcolm Turnbull’s office, but the focus, we’re hearing, is again on the technology. Aren’t two other reviews of greater value? One is looking at regulatory reform and the other the cost benefit analysis.

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