Siobhan McKenna is getting worried. She is the part-time Chairman of the Government-owned NBN Co. receiving $209,630 per annum (plus superannuation and other benefits) of taxpayers’ money and is now using our money to employ a lobbying firm (Bespoke) and the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills to lobby Coalition MPs so as to preserve their own jobs.
The Coalition is rightly promising a forensic audit into NBN and McKenna and her fellow directors are very concerned. She claims that the Coalition is ‘politicising’ the NBN, which is a bit rich given that it is a highly political organisation.
An incoming Coalition government has every right – indeed duty – to carefully examine all lines of government expenditure and programs. The NBN should not be exempt; indeed its failures are so great as to demand a forensic audit and judicial review.
McKenna has been collecting a small fortune from the taxpayer for mismanaging the NBN project and is failing in her accountability to the Parliament and to the people. If she and her colleagues really think that NBN Co. is so gloriously run, and don’t want government interference, she should offer to buy the company from the Government.
Malcolm Turnbull: I’ve met with her [Ms McKenna] in my office. My door is open. If she ever wants to talk to me, my door is open. She doesn’t need a lobbyist to get in, that’s for sure.
Tony Jones: But is there anything dodgy about employing a lobbyist, particularly if you’re worried that the Coalition may have a judicial inquiry and they don’t know what the terms of reference are.
Malcolm Turnbull: Well, the terms of reference are set out in our policy document. So you don’t need a lobbyist to do that, unless you have difficulty downloading our policy from our website, which would be odd for the Chairman of a broadband company.
Turnbull is spot on in stating that the employment of the lobbying firm and legal firm is for the benefit of the directors and not of the company. It should therefore not be paid by the company (and thus the taxpayer).