Switkowski wades into NBN leak debate, ALP is furious

'Political rumourtrage' crack raises ire

By Richard Chirgwin

Posted in Policy, 29th May 2016 22:57 GMT

nbnTMchair Ziggy Switkowski has penned an article for Fairfax saying the “NBN leakers” aren't whistleblowers, but partisan ideologues.

The article, coming as it did during an election campaign, has drawn immediate fire from the ALP's Tony Burke, who accuses Switkowski of breaching the “caretaker conventions”.

With the government in caretaker mode, public servants and employees of government business enterprises (like nbnTM) are required to stay out of politics.

Switkowski's article states: “When dozens of confidential company documents are stolen, this is theft”.

The article then continues with an apparent shot at the ALP's Stephen Conroy, former communications minister, frequent critic of the National Broadband Network in Senate Estimates, and presumptive recipient of leaks against the current model for the National Broadband Network.

“When they are the basis of media headlines and partisan attacks, they wrongly tarnish our reputation, demoralise our workforce, distract the executive, and raise doubts where there is little basis for concern.

“The process is a form of political rumourtrage – the circulation of misinformation to diminish an enterprise for political gain.”

The ALP's Tony Burke has now written to the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Martin Parkinson, stating the article breached the caretaker conventions and the Commonwealth Government Business Enterprise Governance and Oversight Guidelines.

Burke requests Parkinson “immediately undertake inquiries” into the matter.

The NBN leak investigation had already been put on ice after Conroy claimed the seized documents were subject to parliamentary privilege.

That privilege hadn't stopped an nbnTM staffer, named in the AFP warrant as providing support in the raid, from photographing the seizures and disseminating the images.

Two nbnTM staffers have been stood down following the raids. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily


More from The Register

Copper feel, fibre it ain't: Ads regulator could face court for playing hard and fast with definitions

CityFibre applies for review, says ASA is failing consumers

nbn™ CEO blames copper for performance problems

Bill Morrow says what Australia's been thinking for about a decade

ALP won't confirm Digital Transformation Office funding

We keep asking, but all the Shorten Squad will say is they liked online services first

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull hints at surveillance expansion

Drivers' licenses pics shared with States? You ain't seen nothing yet: the private sector might get your mugshot, too

nbn™ needs copper to build FTTN: another 15,000 km of it

Some greenfields won't get fibre, company tells Senate

Australian PM Turnbull's AU$1.1bn 'Ideas boom' revealed as a bust

Policy hastily cobbled together using woolly advice, lacked clear objectives, measurements

Grilled over failed DoE project, Turnbull's Transformers turn turtle

Senator's 'what are you doing?' a tough question to answer

1.5m Brits pay too much for mobile and crappy broadband – Ofcom

Wake up, people!

DSL inventor's latest science project: terabit speeds over copper

Spare your hypegasm, this is a research roadmap

ALP promises 'fibre' NBN as 'NBN defenders' return with new petition

270,000 signatures achieved nothing at all last time, but clicktivists are trying again!