Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today said he would not respond to Telstra's call for clarity on future telecommunications regulation to give the big telco surety before national broadband network bids are due on 26 November.
"Gotta love the competitive process, dont'cha. Gotta love competition," Conroy said in answer to the question relating to the issue at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia lunch. "We've not ruled anything in or out and that seems to have caused a little bit of public debate," he continued.
"You can't be fairer than saying, tell us what you think you need to get the investment return and access to $4.7 billion," he said.
"Some people don't seem to be enjoying the competitive process. Maybe that's just this sector. I don't know. Most other people are usually prepared to get $4.7 billion, understanding that there's the chance they mightn't win before they start."
When asked specifically about Telstra's issues after the event, Conroy told press that the company would have to decide itself if it wanted to bid, although he did highlight the company's tendency to cry wolf.
"I'm just noting the fact that Telstra in the past has said they wouldn't bid for things when they bid for things, but they have to treat each case on a case by case basis," he said.
On the subject of Telstra chairman Donald McGauchie's recent letter asking for regulatory clarity to which CEO Sol Trujillo said the company had received no answer, Conroy said he believed his department had replied, although he could not be sure.
"I did read that we hadn't responded. My recollection is that we have definitely written back in response to some of Telstra's queries," he said.
He admitted in the questions and answers session that he didn't know how many bidders would actually submit on the day, which would affect the amount of time the expert panel would have to deliberate on each bid.
Later he ticked off those on his fingers who might put in their papers, including Terria and Axia in his count. "The Acacia group have not said a lot but you'd have to ask them," he concluded.