Conroy tables 'confidential' NBN documents

Conroy tables 'confidential' NBN documents

Summary: Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy has released two key documents related to the first National Broadband Network process, which may clear the way for the Senate to debate the three key NBN Bills.


Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy has released two key documents related to the first National Broadband Network (NBN) process, which may clear the way for the Senate to debate the three key NBN Bills.

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission's and the NBN expert panel's documents, which outlined the government's rationale for ditching the first National Broadband Network proposal were tabled this morning by Conroy in parliament.

The Coalition in May had moved a motion in Senate which prevented further debate on three key pieces of NBN legislation unless the documents were made available. Conroy had repeatedly denied access to the documents on the grounds that they contained commercially sensitive information.

Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin had also lodged a freedom of information request in an attempt to access the documents; however, it was knocked back unless Minchin was willing to foot the $24,000 cost of producing the documents. Though the documents tabled by Conroy do not include a "short secret letter" supposedly given to the government from the NBN expert panel.

Legislation that was blocked as a result of the "no further debate" motion by the Coalition included the Bill which prevents Telstra from future spectrum auctions unless it divests its stake in Foxtel. Another Bill caught in the stalled process included the NBN network access information, which would require energy, rail and other utilities to hand over detailed network information to the NBN Company.

In a statement released today, Minchin called Conroy's release of the documents a "feeble and unsatisfactory" attempt to comply with a Senate Order.

"Senator Conroy has previously arrogantly dismissed the Senate Order, but his inadequate attempts today to fulfil it, confirm that he is concerned by the widely held view that the government's handling of NBN policy has been sadly lacking in openness and transparency," Senator Minchin said. "The fact it is has taken him more than five months to table anything highlights the contempt with which he has treated the Senate."

"This minister wasted 18 months and $20 million running his fatally flawed NBN Mark I tender process. To this day he has not been able to provide any evidence to prove his $43 billion NBN Mark II proposal was not just a thought bubble designed to mask the embarrassment of Labor's broken election promise," Minchin said.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Government AU, Telcos, Telstra

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.

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


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Bovver Boy at work.

    This new reference to a 'short secret letter' intrigues me. Why can't it be released when it no doubt concerns a company from which the Minister has single handedly wiped $14B? (Aggregate of share devaluations from the initial FTTN dismissal, and secondly the announcement to impose separation legislation) . Let's focus on what Australian investors deserve, which - as any goldfish will tell you - is 'certainty'.

    In the wake of the latest announcement that the Gov't would legislate to separate Telstra if it refused to divest it's terrestrial network at a lower than market rate, Conroy himself admitted the following [Inside Business 20/09/2009]:

    "when the fibre to the node proposal wasn't able to go ahead as recommended by the expert panel in January this year, that gave us cause to think about what steps, where we needed to go to into the future."

    Two key points here for any investor looking to allocate their hard earned into assumed sound Australian companies:

    1) the January letter from the experts panel was suspiciously close to the December 15th date of the enormously destructive dismissal, and

    2) the announcement that the FTTN was to be discontinued was not made to the market until mid-April, when the NBN was so feebly launched.

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the discontinuation of the FTTN, if announced in January, would have had a material impact on Telstra's share price.

    I would be very keen to know if the expert panel's 'short secret letter' to the Minister addresses this point.
  • Who's a bovver boy, then

    It seems difficult for some people to comprehend that allowing an incumbent monopolist to continue screwing the public is never an acceptable option.

    The present government should be commended for moving decisively to fix some major communications problems, and for the first time enable some fixed line competition. In most cases the problems were created by appallingly shortsighted policy from previous governments.

    The fact that monopolies usually enjoy a share price premium for obvious reasons is no justification for allowing the monopoly situation to continue.
  • Watch your back Telstra.

    Anonymous what a shallow and easily rejected argument you display.

    Your call for Telstra to be demonised because (it serves your financial interest) it is a monopoly is strange when you promote a total and complete monopoly, NBNCo.

    Why do you not call for the FTTP to be built and compete with Telstra for the benefit of all Australians. We all know the reason why. Your hip pocket.

    Opponents of Telstra see the $43 billion on offer, see the opportunity to vilify Telstra and laugh all the way to the bank. Won't happen though.
  • Conroy's report would show his ineptitude !

    "This minister wasted 18 months and $20 million running his fatally flawed NBN Mark I tender process. To this day he has not been able to provide any evidence to prove his $43 billion NBN Mark II proposal was not just a thought bubble designed to mask the embarrassment of Labor's broken election promise," Minchin said.

    Not a truer word spoken, that's for sure !
  • @Whos a bovver boy

    It is only acceptable to some greedy, disgusting TLS shareholders and some Telstra employees, Anonymous.

    $ydney is the bigeest hypocrite on earth. His wife has 70 000 TLS shares and because of that, Telstra can never do wrong and their opponents are always wrong according to $ydney (but he's not biased [sic], lol).

    But he then has the audacity (because he knows its the only reason why he comments) to claim others have a financial interest. $ydney you have 70 000 financial interest to talk your desperate idiocy.

    Now I don't know about Anonymous, but I have 0 financial interest. I just hate greed and that means I hate your approach $ydney (I don't hate you personally, as I don't hate anyone and don't even know you) but I hate your greed and $elfishness.

    $ydney has been so desperately, greedily low as to compare himself figting for his wife's Telstra shares, to the ANZACS and even Jesus. Over at NWAT 2 he finished one of his typically idiotic comments with God Bless Telstra!

    Anon, do you think such a $elfish, deluded cretin can be corresponded with rationally? Do you think such greed can be overcome with sense and truth?

    Again I ask now for about the 7th time (still unanswered).

    Q. why is it only (some not all) TLS shareholders and employees (again not all), support Telstra.

    Looks as though I'll have to answer...

    A. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
  • NBN

    The only matter that has any light shed on it by this report is the the disgraceful behaviour of Senator Minchin. The intellectually dishonest twaddle he has peddled about the NBN is a disgrace. His ridiculous straw man points are redolent of the lazy, backward looking vision for the future of Australia that the Liberal Party created with this private monopoly monster. Go Conway GO!
  • Enjoy life RS forget the hatred.

    RS settle down, for a person that has no interest in Telstra you display inordinate interest, lol.

    I do not intend to discuss my wife's Telstra shareholding but will tell you truthfully that her Telstra shareholding is small to other shares held in her portfolio and is inconsequential.

    My defense of Telstra has no relation to any holding of Telstra shares (for the 35th time) but is a reaction to unfair regulation by Government to destroy a great Australian company to establish a Government monopoly.
  • Big NBN and big costs to taxpayer.

    "MONOPOLY MONSTER" Robert wait 'till you see the MONOPOLY NBN boy you ain't seen nothing yet.
  • NBN - Go Conway Go!

    Hi Robert, if you're referring to Deborah Conway ("It's only the beginning") I completely agree!

    This Minister's behaviour marks 'only the beginning' of overgrown government destroying wealth via socialised monopolies.

    Let's hope the Productivity Commission can attend to the production of their promised NBN business case in advance of the next election.

    This will at least allow 1.4M Telstra shareholders to evaluate their own losses against the potential liabilities of their overdrawn offspring before casting their next vote.
  • re Enjoy life RS forget the hatred.

    You are wasting your breath Sydney. This lunatic does not have even the slightest hint of decency, and simply gets his kicks by abusing anyone that happens to support Telstra. Psychiatric treatment is what he needs, and he needs it urgently..
  • Shift work for a head shrink.

    Harsh comment Anonymous, but I can't say that I disagree with you.
  • No bovver, just facts

    @RS, plus Sydlala, etc - let me declare my complete lack of interest. I have no financial ties to ANY communications company. I have no financial ties to ANY political party. So I can call it just as it is, whether you like such objectivity or not.

    Perhaps it is a pity that the cream of the NWAT cafeteria cannot say the same?
  • Conroy tables 'confidential' NBN documents

    Rudd and Conroy must think people are fools. They are attempting to swindle Telstra shareholders (which includes our superannuation funds meaning most people would therefore have an indirect interest in Telstra) by attempting to procure or use the only worthwhile part of Telstra (its network) for well below its true value. The value of Telstra is in its network assets. A shop front selling mobile phones and telephone services is a commodity and is almost worthless without supporting assets. The value of the network should be based on replacement cost and I suggest it is much greater than $40billion. I also suggest that the issue price T2 was $7.40 (an apparently justified value at the time) so why don’t the government buy all the Telstra shares for $7.40 each and then I’m sure everybody would be happy. Offers to purchase businesses always tend to be above market price as the purchaser factors in a synergy in this case the NBN won’t fly without it.
  • re Conroy tables 'confidential' NBN documents

    Rudd and Conroy most certainly think that people are fools. A pair of megalomaniacs, they think they can continue to blaze away with reckless abandon at what ever they consider necessary to retain their popularity. But with scant concern for anyone who questions their motives. Conroy in particular uses very strange logic, which is quite disturbing, and will only get worse IMHO.
  • Commonsense?

    Lol, $7.40...commonsense, pfft.

    Offers to buy businesses normally have a 20% premium (or thereabouts) to current share price value. So at todays price of $3.24, it would be $3.89.

    But gee I wish I could invest with a safety net, like you TLS shareholders expect.

    BTW, should all of those investors who sold above $7.40 pay back the extra too, lol!
  • Wrong RS

    RS this is not a normal business condition. The government is basically telling the Telstra shareholders to subsidise their NBN. Venezuela and Australia have allot in common when it comes to nationalising private company assets.
  • wrong flamer

    rs is right, 20% is the normal buy out %. Not $7.40 when a share is trading at $3.30. get real.

    venezuela? try nz and uk.
  • wrong flamer and RS

    Yes, but remember when the when T1 occurred at $3.30 or thereabouts, Labour said the price was below market value, and then T2 was $7.40 which was around the market price at the time Labor didnt complain that was too cheap. In reality the price should be somewhere between current price and the ambit $7.40 I mentioned. The price is currently suppressed by all this government interference, perhaps purposely depressing the price to get it cheaper than would otherwise be the case.
  • And we, the taxpayers and Telstra customers, just keep on paying. This runs like a never-ending twisted ballad.

    And we, the taxpayers and Telstra customers, just keep on paying. This runs like a never-ending twisted ballad.

    First we paid to build the Telstra network.
    Then we paid to use what we paid for to build.
    Then we paid to buy it off ourselves (Telstra shares).
    Then we paid to use what we bought off ourselves.
    Now we will be paying to buy back what we paid for to build,
    then bought off ourselves, and we have been paying to use all along.

    I wonder what the next verse will look like?