Auditor-General to probe NBN decision

Federal Auditor-General Ian McPhee has revealed he will conduct a preliminary review of Labor's terminated National Broadband Network tender process.

Federal Auditor-General Ian McPhee has revealed he will conduct a preliminary review of Labor's terminated National Broadband Network tender process.

The Rudd Government wasted almost 18 months and $20 million on a tender which was based on totally unrealistic key objectives.

Nick Minchin

McPhee believed the review, to be conducted by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), would begin in mid-May when resources became available. ANAO has already sought the cooperation of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy for the review.

His decision to look into the tender followed his receipt of a letter by Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin last month asking for a review to be held on the tender, which Minchin considered to be "fundamentally flawed".

McPhee has written back to Minchin confirming the review, in a letter seen by ZDNet.com.au.

"The Rudd Government wasted almost 18 months and $20 million on a tender which was based on totally unrealistic key objectives, which the bidders themselves confirmed could not be met," Minchin said today in a statement.

The termination of the tender process was a surprise to the industry. One bidder's CEO, Ivan Slavich from TransACT, had expressed his dissatisfaction at the time, saying that his company's plan did meet the tender requirements. He believed the government should reimburse vendors for their troubles out of good faith.

Minchin has also been pushing for the release of the expert panel's advice, which would have been made publicly available after the selection of a winning bidder as directed by a Senate order. Since no winning bidder was announced, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has not released the panel's advice, saying its information is commercial in confidence.

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