House of Representatives Committees

| Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network

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Preliminary pages

Chair’s Foreword

This is the fourth review report of the Joint Committee of the National Broadband Network and has proved to be the most difficult of all four.  Even though we have successfully come inside the Terms of Reference reporting date by 24 hours, it has been several months of disagreement between committee members on some very basic points in this report that have seen the report delivered later than planned.

This is disappointing.  The tradition of committee membership in Australian political culture is that adversarial politics is left at the door.  It is a concern to many that this culture is showing signs of changing on this Committee, where sensitivities of our oversight work as compared to political party election platforms has made the work of the committee much more difficult than it need be.  In my view, this is an early warning sign that the topic of higher speed broadband technology is likely to feature strongly in political debate throughout 2013, an election year.

I want to pay a very special tribute to the staff of the Secretariat of the JCNBN.  At times, they were unfairly caught in the middle of party politics.  They managed this with great skill and dexterity, and the fact a report of any kind has been able to be produced, is a direct credit to these individuals.  Through this period, we lost Peter Stephens to a different role in the Parliament. I particularly thank Peter for his work, and his subtle skills in managing a highly charged political committee reflects very well on his knowledge of the APS and Parliamentary culture and practice.

This year, there is one more report due in July/August, as a fifth and final report of the NBN oversight committee. Between now and then, public hearings involving the NBN Co CEO and the Department will be held.  Personally, I am concerned about setting the Secretariat up to fail in trying to get a committee report produced several months before an election.  Therefore, I do flag we may not be able to reach agreement and may not produce a fifth report at all.

I am not confident that the focus of the committee is an oversight of an existing build under the existing Shareholder Ministers arrangements.  Instead, I think the committee has become somewhat stuck on a policy dispute between different build options, and will only deepen divisions on this in the pre-election period.

If we can manage to produce a 5th report, there is a danger it won’t mean much from an oversight perspective. Despite the opportunities to report and provide oversight on a number of important aspects of the current roll-out, there is every chance the next report will be nothing more than a compendium of political statements and election promises. If this is all we can produce, I could write it now, and it makes the entire committee process worthless and a waste of time for all involved.

I therefore hope I am wrong, and in a way challenge the committee members to revel in proving me wrong, in a hope that the work of an important committee of 16 MP’s and Senators, with 68 participating MP’s and Senators, does actually have some worth in advancing policy for Australia over the coming six month period.  Somewhat naively, I live in hope!

Enjoy this fourth report, and the additional comments.  It has, for many, been many hours of hard work.

Robert Oakeshott MP

Committee Membership


Mr Robert Oakeshott MP


Deputy Chair

Mr Rob Mitchell MP (from 14.3.2012)



Mr Paul Fletcher MP

Senator Simon Birmingham


Mr Luke Hartsuyker MP

Senator Carol Brown (until 21.6.2012)


Mr Ed Husic MP

Senator Doug Cameron


Hon Sussan Ley MP

Senator Mary Jo Fisher (until 10.8.2012)


Ms Amanda Rishworth MP (from     21.11. 2011 until 14.8.2012)

Senator Alex Gallacher (from 16.3.2012)


Ms Michelle Rowland MP (until 21.11.2011 then from 14.8.2012)

Senator Scott Ludlam


Mr Mike Symon MP

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald


Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Senator Dean Smith (from 10.9.2012)


Senator the Hon Lin Thorp (from 21.6. 2012)

Participating Members

Senator the Hon Eric Abetz

Senator the Hon David Johnston

Senator Chris Back

Senator Barnaby Joyce

Senator Cory Bernardi

Senator Helen Kroger

Senator Catryna Bilyk (from 24.3.2011)

Senator Gavin Marshall (from 24.3.2011)

Senator Mark Bishop (from 24.3.2011)

Senator the Hon Brett Mason

Senator the Hon Ronald Boswell

Senator Anne McEwan (from 24.3.2011)

Senator Sue Boyce

Senator Claire Moore (from 24.3.2011)

Senator the Hon George Brandis SC

Senator Fiona Nash

Senator Carol Brown (from 21.6.2012)

Mr Paul Neville MP (from 10.5.2011)

Senator David Bushby

Senator Stephen Parry

Senator Michaelia Cash

Senator Marise Payne

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck

Senator Helen Polley (from 24.3.2011)

Senator Mathias Cormann

Senator Louise Pratt (from 24.3.2011)

Senator Trish Crossin (from 24.3.2011)

Senator the Hon Michael Ronaldson

Mrs Yvette D’Ath MP (from 19.3.2012 to 4.2.2013))

Senator Scott Ryan

Senator Alan Eggleston

Senator Anne Ruston (from 12.9.2012)

Senator the Hon John Faulkner (from 24.3.2011)

Hon Bruce Scott MP (from 26.5.2011)

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion
Senator Mitch Fifield

Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO (from 12.9.2012)

Senator Mark Furner (from 24.3.2011)

Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens (from 16.3.2012)

Senator the Hon Bill Heffernan

Senator Glenn Sterle (from 24.3.2011)

Senator Gary Humphries

Senator John Williams


Senator Nick Xenophon

Committee Secretariat

Committee Secretary

Mr Peter Banson
(from 13.2.2013)

Inquiry Secretaries

Mr Peter Stephens (until 6.2.2013)

  Ms Stephanie Mikac
  Dr Bill Pender
  Dr Kate Sullivan

Terms of Reference

The resolution of appointment establishing the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network was passed by the House of Representatives on 1 March 2011 and by the Senate on 3 March 2011 and provides:

  1. That a Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network be appointed to inquire into and report on the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN);

  2. That every six months, commencing 31 August 2011, until the NBN is complete and operational, the committee provide progress reports to both Houses of Parliament and to shareholder Ministers on:

    1. The rollout of the NBN, including in relation to the Government’s objective for NBN Co Limited (NBN Co) to:

      1. connect 93 per cent of Australian homes, schools and businesses with fibre-to-the premises technology providing broadband speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, with a minimum fibre coverage obligation of 90 per cent of Australian premises; and

      2. service all remaining premises by a combination of next-generation fixed wireless and satellite technologies providing peak speeds of at least 12 megabits per second;

    2. The achievement of take-up targets (including premises passed and covered and services activated) as set out in NBN Co’s Corporate Plan released on 20 December 2010 as revised from time to time;

    3. Network rollout performance including service levels and faults;

    4. The effectiveness of NBN Co in meeting its obligations as set out in its Stakeholder Charter;

    5. NBN Co’s strategy for engaging with consumers and handling complaints;

    6. NBN Co’s risk management processes; and

    7. Any other matter pertaining to the NBN rollout that the committee considers relevant.

List of abbreviations


Australian Broadband Guarantee


Australian Communications Consumer Action Network


Australian Competition and Consumer Commission


Australian Communications and Media Authority


Automatically Eligible Workgroup


Australian Qualifications Framework


Australian Standard


Business Readiness Testing


Contract Development Process


Chief Executive Officer


Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union


Crown Fibre Holdings




Connectivity Virtual Circuit


Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy


Fibre Access Node




Financial Year


Hybrid fibre coaxial


Information Communication Technology


Interim Satellite Service


Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network


Key Performance Indicator


Local Fibre Company


Long Term Satellite Service


Megabits per second


Multi-Dwelling Unit


National Advisory Committee


National Broadband Network


NBN Co Limited


Network Termination Device


New Zealand Committee Exchange Program


New Zealand


SingTel Optus Pty Ltd


Personal Emergency Response Services Association


Premise Connection Device


Point of Interconnect


Public-Private Partnership


Rural Broadband Initiative


Retraining Funding Deed


Resolution of Appointment


Recognition of prior learning


Retail Service Provider


Satellite Access Service


Special Access Undertaking


Single Dwelling Unit


Standard Form of Access Agreement


Structural Separation Undertaking


Telecommunications Protection Code


Ultra Fast Broadband


User Network Interface Data


User Network Interface Voice


United States of America


Very small aperture terminal


Voice over Internet Protocol


Wireless Access Service


Wholesale Broadband Agreement


Wireless Serving Area


Work Under Way


2 Performance Reporting

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that the key performance indicator information presented in the Shareholder Ministers’ six-monthly National Broadband Network (NBN) performance report list and detail: (1) established Business Plan targets and (2) actual results which track the progress of the NBN rollout over each six month period as well as yearly, to enable the comparison of actual physical NBN rollout results with published NBN Co Corporate Plan targets.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the Shareholder Ministers' six monthly performance report on the progress of the National Broadband Network rollout include audited financial statements with accompanying explanatory notes, and where it is not possible to provide these in the first instance, that they be forwarded to the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network when prepared, as an addendum to the Performance Report.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that subsequent Shareholder Ministers' six monthly performance report on the progress of the National Broadband Network rollout be provided to the committee no less than one month before the scheduled biannual hearing with the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network.

4 Regional and Remote Issues

Recommendation 4

The committee recommends that the Government support the NBN Co to continue to:

5 Additional Issues

Recommendation 5

The committee recommends that the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) and NBN Co continue to work with the Personal Emergency Response Services Association, the Communications Alliance and retail service providers to implement a range of initiatives to address concerns with the operation of medical alarms for aged and at-risk persons under the National Broadband Network rollout. This process should be in consultation with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, with the DBCDE to report back to the committee on specific progress in this area.

6 Private Equity Engagement and Workforce Issues

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that the Government:

Recommendation 7

The committee recommends that, in providing an annual statement to the committee on the progress of the Telstra Retraining Funding Deed (RFD), the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) include in this information an update on:

Recommendation 8

The committee recommends that, in providing an annual statement to the committee outlining the major areas of emerging National Broadband Network (NBN) workforce demand and training need, the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy include in this information a more detailed report on:

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