Telstra's WiMax case against Coonan thrown out

Summary:Telstra today lost its court battle to see confidential documents belonging to Communications Minister Helen Coonan, which related to a government decision to allocate almost AU$1 billion to a rival.

Telstra today lost its court battle to see confidential documents belonging to Communications Minister Helen Coonan, which related to a government decision to allocate almost AU$1 billion to a rival.

In the Federal Court today, Justice Peter Graham dismissed Telstra's application and ordered it to pay the Minister's costs.

In his judgement, Justice Graham said: "It is certainly arguable that part of Telstra's motivation for bringing the current application is to achieve some measure of publicity for its cause and its criticism of what has been referred to as foreign aid for Singapore."

Telstra had taken the Minister to court seeking documents pertaining to how the government had chosen the winning bidder to build a WiMax network across the bush.

Coonan said in June that it had selected OPEL, a joint venture between Optus and Elders, to build the bush WiMax network and that the funding for the project had been increased to AU$1 billion, up from the AU$600 million originally earmarked for the scheme.

Telstra alleged that only the winning bidder, OPEL, was made aware of the funding increase during the tender process.

A spokesperson for the Minister's office told ZDNet Australia: "The judgement today speaks for itself. For the government, we welcomed Telstra's participation in the Australian Broadband Guarantee and that's really the way forward."

Telstra's group general counsel, Will Irving, said that the government's decisions on the WiMax network remained mired in secrecy.

"It shouldn't be this hard to find out why the Australian government spent AU$1 billion of taxpayers' money supporting a Singapore-backed proposal that didn't even achieve the government's stated aims," he said in a statement.

While access to the Minister's documents has been denied, Telstra still has the option to pursue further legal action.

"We will be closely analysing the judgment before determining our next legal steps," Irving said.

AAP contributed to this story.

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government : AU, Legal, NBN, Networking, Optus, Telcos, Telstra, Wi-Fi

About

Jo Best has been covering IT for the best part of a decade for publications including silicon.com, Guardian Government Computing and ZDNet in both London and Sydney.

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.