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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Penchant for darting and weaving over secrecy

The issue of parliament's powers and the resolution of disputes over production of documents remains for another day, but the release of this summary of the NBN business case overcame the immediate hurdle to progressing relevant legislation through the Senate.  Michelle Grattan in The Age wonders whether the failure to do this days ago was government's natural penchant for secrecy or just plain arrogance.

ABC News
Minister Conroy on Lateline reiterated cabinet confidentiality, commercial in confidence and decisions still to be taken by the ACCC as the reasons. And as to any penchant for secrecy:

"TONY JONES: But who dreamt up the idea that minority MPs and senator would have to sign a seven-year confidentiality agreement to just get a briefing on this? This was like a comedy of errors. I mean, it started as seven years, it went down to three years, eventually it went down to two weeks. I mean, who was running this?

STEPHEN CONROY: I think there was some very eager officials in one of the departments that were very keen to ensure we had maximum confidentiality and once - and this was all happening over the weekend - once we were able to see what was being put forward, we agreed with the proposition that they were a little over-eager in terms of the time that they were seeking when the majority of this information would be available within a few weeks' time in December, as Julia Gillard made clear over a week ago: That we would be releasing as much as was not commercially sensitive and we've said this consistently: we would release this document, but the Cabinet has to consider it. But we've always said that we would release as much information as we could."

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