Friday, November 27, 2009

I was (sort of) wrong ... NBN Select Committee

I noted the notice of motion that the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network was seeking an extension of time to report and speculated this was a committee that just goes on.

In the end the motion was only seeking an extension from 23 November to 25 November. The reasons can be gleaned in the final report in the comments from Senator Ludlum. The draft report presented by the Secreteriat to the Committee had undergone significant changes by the majority (coalition) Senators, and Senator Ludlum needed therefore extra time to add his dissenting report.

In the end the report wasn't tabled till 26 November, and with it a motion was moved to adopt recommendation twelve of the report. The discussion in Hansard notes that the Government thought the further matters were more appropriately referred to the relevant (standing) references committee. The subtle difference between the two is who chairs them. Membership is not really that significant as lots of Senators not members of committees regularly "participate".

Recommendation 12 read;

That the Senate agree to extend the Select Committee on the National
Broadband Network, under the following revised terms of reference:
a) That the resolution of the Senate of 25 June 2008, as amended, appointing the
Select Committee on the National Broadband Network, be further amended:
(2A) The Committee is to examine the findings of the National Broadband
Network Implementation Study, the Government’s response to the
Implementation Study and any subsequent implications of that report for the
National Broadband Network policy.

An interesting part of this resolution is that it added a reference but did not amend the reporting date (as already amended) for the Committee. The current terms of reference specify the amended reporting date of 25 November 2009. So on my question - should I bother with the submission I finally think I want to make - I am no clearer. I think a Senate Select Committee cannot undertake further inquiries even if additional material has ben added to the ToR if it doesn't have a reporting date set for the future. And unless Senators sort this out today then the Committee can't do anything till February.

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