Independents' deal sees NBN watchdogs

Summary:Independent monitoring groups will be established at a number of universities to keep a watchful eye over the delivery of Labor's promises to the regional independents, including the delivery of the National Broadband Network (NBN), according to Independent MP Tony Windsor.

Independent monitoring groups will be established at a number of universities to keep a watchful eye over the delivery of Labor's promises to the regional independents, including the delivery of the National Broadband Network (NBN), according to Independent MP Tony Windsor.

The groups will be established as part of the deal made by Independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott when they negotiated the terms for their support of the Labor Government.

"There'll also be some independent monitoring going on that will probably be located within the ... University of New England and the Australian National University. We're still working on some detail there," Windsor told ABC's AM program this morning.

"But there will be ways and means of monitoring this and as part of the arrangement too we've got access to the department, the minister, the Prime Minister in relation to how these things are panning out and there'll be, you know, some sort of audit process as well," Windsor added. "And then the ultimate weapon I guess is the, if the government doesn't perform as they've suggested they will there's the no-confidence motion."

In the same program, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy said the planned roll-out of the NBN would now be changed to prioritise regional areas.

"We'll be talking to the team at the National Broadband Network Company over the next few days about how we can redesign the roll-out timetable," he said.

Windsor was still confident that the NBN was the best policy for his electorate.

"The experts [that] were advising me, some from regional Australia, kept saying 'this is a great opportunity'. We really don't fully comprehend the advantages and the cost impacts on regional health, regional education, regional business," he said. "You know it really negates distance as being a disadvantage of being a country person in a sense and really changes the equation in terms of location."

In his concession speech yesterday, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the Coalition would be "hyper-vigilant" in watching the roll-out of the NBN, stating that the $43 billion project had the potential to be "school halls on steroids" in terms of wasteful spending.

(Front page image credit: Twyfelfontein Binoculars image by M0Rt3s, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Topics: Broadband, Government : AU, NBN

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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