Coalition move to disband Senate’s NBN committee deferred (again)

Two motions by Senator Cory Bernardi to disband the NBN committee and create a new government-dominated committee postponed until September

A motion by Liberal Party Senator Cory Bernardi to disband the Senate's National Broadband Network committee has been postponed for a third time.

The Senate’s daily order of business states that Bernardi’s two motions related to the committee have been deferred until 30 September.

The first motion would disband the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network.

The second motion would establish a “Joint Select Committee on the National Broadband Network be established to inquire into the National Broadband Network, examine and report on the rollout, end user take-up and NBN Co‘s financial and operational performance.”

The motions would require the support of non-government senators to pass.

Bernardi postponed the motions twice .

The new committee would comprise “9 members, 3 members of the House of Representatives to be nominated by the Government Whip or Whips, 2 members of the House of Representatives to be nominated by the Opposition Whip or Whips, 2 senators to be nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, 1 senator to be nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and 1 senator to be nominated by minor party or independent senators.”

The Senate’s NBN committee is chaired by Labor Senator Kate Lundy, and comprises three Labor senators, three Liberal senators and a Greens senator, giving supporters of the fibre-to-the-premises approach of the former government a majority. Bernardi is the deputy chair of the committee.

The Senate committee in March released an interim report slamming the Coalition's new strategy for an NBN rollout.

Read more: NBN cost-benefit analysis signals the end of an era

A lenghty response (PDF) by communications minister Malcolm Turnbull and a dissenting report by Coalition members of the Senate committee both criticised the report.

Earlier this month the government issued a formal response to the recommendations in the committee’s interim report.

The response rejected three of the committee's recommendations — that NBN Co submit a revised strategic review; that the process of producing a "document with the deficiencies evident in the Strategic Review" be investigated, and that the "Senate amend the Committee's Terms of Reference to enable ongoing and robust Parliamentary oversight of the National Broadband Network".

The response "notes" the report's other recommendation, that the rollout of an FTTP network should be accelerated while further analysis of the NBN is undertaken.

The Senate committee was established in November last year and in May its reporting date was extended until the "the last sitting day of the 44th Parliament", ensuring that it would continue scrutiny of the NBN until the next federal election.

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p

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