update National Broadband Network Company executive chairman Mike Quigley has told staff from Queensland Public Works and ICT Minister Robert Schwarten's department that it may not select a single state to become the central headquarters of the company.
"The head office may need not be a traditional head office with a suite of professional services in the one place. Mr Quigley said the headquarters could be decentralised across the major capital cities," Schwarten told parliament today.
His office confirmed that representatives from the Broadband Development Office in Queensland's Department of Public Works had met with Quigley, although the minister himself had not as yet.
The news flies in the face of assumptions made by various state premiers since the NBN initiative was announced in April that one state would host the headquarters of the new company.
Still, Schwarten today argued that Brisbane made a natural home for the headquarters because of its massive investments in the civil works program. "Queensland, with Australia's largest civil infrastructure program has plenty of men and women with such experience and expertise," he said.
The civil works component of the build is expected to soak up at least 70 per cent of the cost of building the National Broadband Network project and has yet to be used by NSW or Victoria. Highlighting the scale of its projects, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh this morning pointed out Queensland had spent $43.4 billion on major projects in the past three years.
Representatives from the Broadband Development Office within the Department of Public Works, made Queensland's pitch to Quigley last week.
Bligh today said, "Mr Quigley was presented with the proposal for Queensland to host the head office of the NBN. The Queensland Government has strongly committed to assist the NBN establish an office in Brisbane as soon as possible."
Bligh also flagged she would meet with Quigley to commence discussions about Queensland's involvement in the project.
Schwarten told parliament that the state's challenging demographic and geographic profiles made Brisbane an ideal place to base the headquarters. "This makes Brisbane the perfect place for the NBN Company to shape the mindset of the NBN and to best enable the delivery of services to all Australians," he said.
Queensland's other highlights, according to Schwarten, were that it was home to the National Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCERT); that it had a broad range of skilled labour to take on civil projects; and that its state-owned corporations held deep expertise on large projects.
Following a similar move by Victoria, announced last month, Schwarten also promised Queensland would build an Australian Centre of Broadband Excellence.
"The spirit and intent of the Queensland proposition for the NBN is in complete synergy with where the new chief executive, Mike Quigley is coming from," he said.
NSW Premier Nathan Rees has said he would take a hands-on role to ensure NSW got the headquarters. While Queensland promoted its civil works experience, Rees made his appeal for NSW on the grounds it had the largest pool of information and communication technology professionals and that it was the country's finance hub.
Victoria's bid, led by Minister for Information and Communication Technology John Lenders, has focused on Melbourne being home to the telecommunications offices of the industry's regulators, which made it a natural spot to locate the headquarters.