Committee demands NBN implementation study

Committee demands NBN implementation study

Summary: If Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wants the Senate Select Committee's inquiry into the National Broadband Network to end, he will need to hand it the lead advisor's implementation study, committee chair and Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher said last week.

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If Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wants the Senate Select Committee's inquiry into the National Broadband Network to end, he will need to hand it the lead advisor's implementation study, committee chair and Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher said last week.

The government can make it easy or they can make it hard

Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher

"Clearly we'd expect to see the implementation study as soon as possible. We would be disappointed if we did not, but that said, we will get it," said Fisher. "We will find a way. That's the committee's job. There are ways and ways."

While the committee lacks the power to force the government's hand, the committee has the time and support of the independent senators, Fisher told ZDNet.com.au. "He won't want this committee to continue. The government is opposed to an extension and wants us to finish and the best way to get us to finish is to get on with the final bit of the job," she said.

The committee reconvenes in the second week of February as parliament resumes. Last year it recommended the government release the taxpayer-funded report (which has a budget of up to $53 million) and was handed an extension, which pushed out the inquiry's completion date from November 2009 to April 2010, specifically so it could assess the study's findings.

"We got the support of senators [Nick] Xenophon and [Steve] Fielding to extend the committee until April to allow us to inquire into the implementation study itself and the government's response to it," Fisher said.

The government received an "interim report" last August from lead advisers, KMPG and McKinsey; however, Conroy said this would not be released to the public, while it would consider next month whether it would release the final report.

The committee has not yet received word from Conroy or the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy whether it will hand the report over.

The study is expected to cover how to attract private sector investors to the government-owned corporation, NBN Co, governance and operating arrangements for it, and specifications for what and how wholesale services would be sold by it — details which the government said in response to questions by the committee were handed to it in the interim report in August.

There is some question amongst industry stakeholders as to what the study's purpose is, given it has been conducted alongside the NBN Co's own study. At the Realising our Broadband Future conference in Sydney last December, NBN Co chief Mike Quigley said that it was "sensible" for the government to have conducted the study in a "dual-stream approach". Quigley noted that the "NBN Co and McKinsey and KPMG have focused on different aspects of the project".

Several attempts to contact the minister's office by ZDNet.com.au over the issue have not been responded to. Last October the department said it had not considered whether it would release the report publicly.

While the question of public release remains unanswered, Fisher said that if the study is not handed to the committee she would "go back to those who supported the extension of the committee until now to say we haven't been able to do the job because we weren't given the equipment".

"The government can make it easy or they can make it hard," she said. "If they don't give it to us it hands us an opportunity to re-jig the terms of reference if Conroy drags the ball on this. It would be undesirable for the committee to be faced with a situation where we couldn't do the job in an extended time frame because of procrastination over whether they're willing to give us the study."

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Government AU

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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Talkback

13 comments
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  • Qui bono?

    This is another glaring example of just how naïve the Coalition is when it comes to Labor sponsored major capital works projects.

    Was Labor subjected to this sort of ridiculous scrutiny when it was planning and financing the North-South gas pipeline in the mid 70's?

    Senator Fisher would be best served doing something constructive with her time rather then delaying this project.

    If the Government doesn't care for transparency on questions of where the money's coming from, who benefits and at whose cost, why should she?
    anonymous
  • Conservative Parties

    If you have the Conservative???? Parties we now have since John Howard ( Little Jackboot Johnnie), how can you expect the so called Conservatives we have had since , to be any better,
    anonymous
  • Killing the Telecommunications Indust.

    The delay in the spliting of Telstra and the implementation of the NBN, means there is no one currently doing any work on the network. This is sending lot of small business under. The small business going under are Telecommunication design and construct business. These Mum and Dad type operations are the onces that keep the network operating. Once their gone who will replace them but large over sea's muilt corporate company's. More of our jobs and investment money going over sea's. When will these commitees realise that the relay in progress is only hurting the country, and not benifiting the country!
    anonymous
  • Killing with kindness.

    Those who have followed this 'project' know the Government has priortitised the SMEs at #1!

    Afterall it was Telstra's mistake of not incorporating a small business outsource plan in its FTTN submission that was the trigger for the Gov't's FTTP policy.

    I have no doubt that the Member for Leighton Holdings had these businesses at heart when he pulled the handbrake on the Telco sector some 10 months ago.
    anonymous
  • Delay is OK

    The delay is OK. It gives labor more time to dig itself out of the hole it has created for itself while allowing it to blame someone else.

    It frees the people of Australia up to start repaying K.Rudds last handout while not spending $43B on a project which is little more than a public subsidy to next gen media companies.

    All in all a win-win for the paltry cost of a few million a year in NBN executive and consultant salaries.
    anonymous
  • Mum and Dad Telco's

    Please all network construction works are currently done by several main companies ie Silcar, Servicestream and Visionstream, these are already large overseas companies.

    Please try and keep up with the times and add constructive comments to these post.

    Ignorant fool
    anonymous
  • Mum and Dad Telco's

    Let's talk about being Ignorant...

    Yes you are correct about the three large players constructing the network for Telstra. For your information these companies only hire supervisors and some jointers.

    Their design and civil works are all sub contracted out to much smaller companies (Mum and Dad). Even some of there jointing work as well.

    I am one of these subconstructors and have had very little to no work for the last 7 months, you live without an income for that long.

    Please keep in mind that this forum is for discussion, and not to personally attack people. The Comment that you made " ignorant fool" was totally out of line and totally unappreciated! A little bit of a hint for you sir, next time you decide to comment on a persons thoughts SHOW SOME CLASS!
    anonymous
  • The fake RS again, lol... no class indeed.

    Correct, no class. Just humour him anonymous, as you would a child.

    Fakey loves pretending to be me? It must make him feel like the man he'll never be. So good for him.

    When he realises, as he always does, that he's again out of his league here, he'll sulk off to the dunce's corner for a few months, like usual, lol.
    anonymous
  • No class indeed

    well I did it again played the anon card to get a rise which I then used to further my own ego. I'll give it another half hour before attempting to answer myself again.
    anonymous
  • Understand your pain

    I work for Telstra in the area of contract management and have done so for several years. Before Telstra signed the AAS contract Telstra subbies were well paid and could make some money. Now we have the big three mentioned above taking a 40% cut from what Telstra used to pay subbies and then paying the rest to their subbies. I personally know of one company that has gone under under this new arrangement and also know of several others that have had to lay off staff to survive.

    That being said it is not just Telstra that is playing this game I happen to know that other large Telco's have cut their rates to contractors as well.

    As you say the companies only hire some supervisors and jointers, the problem with that is most of the staff hired are ex telstra staff anyway.

    All the best for the future in the telco industry, hope you manage to survive and see some good income come out of the nbn if and when it happens.

    Who knows I may well be joining you some day in the subcontracting ranks.

    All the best Steve.

    PS Don't worry about RS he gets a bit cranky every now and then.
    anonymous
  • Wow

    That was quick Steve thought you were going to wait half an hour? Couldn't even last 8 minutes, lol...
    anonymous
  • They're out to get me..

    Paranoid much RS?

    Must be all those greedy TLS shareholders that are hiding under the bed or in your cupboard.
    anonymous
  • Al last...

    What a complete surprise! You actually got something right at last, congratulations.

    I have educated you so that you can now finally recognise and even acknowledge that they/you are, exactly... as you say... "GREEDY TLS SHAREHOLDERS". As such I fully concur and again congratulate you.

    YOU said it and no truer words have been spoken! Well done... you go girlfriend!
    anonymous