Bidders unwilling to release NBN docs

Summary:The bidders for the Federal Government's National Broadband Network will not be making the details of their bids public, despite the fact that the process has been terminated.

The bidders for the Federal Government's National Broadband Network will not be making the details of their bids public, despite the fact that the process has been terminated.

Optus, Acacia, Axia and TransACT and the Tasmanian Government have all declined to give the public a glimpse into what they would have been offering if the government had chosen a bidder, turning down requests to see their bidding documents this week.

A spokesperson for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy also said that the documents would be remaining behind doors since they were commercial in confidence, a reason echoed by bidders.

On Tuesday, Conroy together with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ended long speculation on who would win the $4.7 billion worth of public money to build a broadband network to reach 98 per cent of the population by terminating the tender process.

According to Rudd, none of the bids had been satisfactory. He announced that the government would go ahead with its own corporation which would build fibre-to-the-home to 90 per cent of Australians. The corporation would be majority government owned and would only provide open access, wholesale services.

Many in the industry have greeted the idea of the corporation with approval because it has solved many regulatory issues which had been dogging competition for some time. Yet, little detail has been given on exactly what the government plans or why the government believed the original bids weren't good enough.

The government spent $20 million on its tender process before terminating it and the companies who bid spent millions of their own preparing their responses.

A three-page extract from the government's expert panel report has until now been the only information which has shed light onto the government's decision. Conroy has no intention of releasing the rest of the report, however, with his office describing parts of it as commercial in confidence.

Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin had put forward a motion to release it, which the Senate passed, ordering that the reports by the expert panel and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission be released the day after a winning bidder was found.

Since no winning bidder was found, with the process instead being terminated, the reports were not released yesterday as per that order. Minchin has said that Conroy's decision not to release the documents showed contempt and arrogance. He believed the Australian public had the right to know what their $20 million paid for.

The government has already turned down one Freedom of Information request to access the documents on the grounds that their release were not in the public interest.

Topics: NBN, Government : AU, Networking, Telcos


Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for t... Full Bio

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