The Federal Government today said it wasn't yet sure whether it would publish the multimillion-dollar National Broadband implementation study currently being undertaken by consulting firms McKinsey and KPMG.
In this year's budget, the government allocated $53 million towards consulting fees for the study, which will look at engineering, commercial and structural issues facing the builder of the network and is set to be delivered to the government by early next year.
However, answering a question from a Senate committee (of which Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin is a member) this afternoon, the new chief of the Department of Communications, Broadband and the Digital Economy Peter Harris said the government hadn't yet considered whether the study will be published.
The government has previously declined to release several reports into the first NBN tender process, from an expert panel appointed to oversee the process and the Australian Communications and Media Authority, despite intense pressure from the Opposition to do so.
In the Senate hearing today, Minchin questioned Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley and Harris on what the relationship was between Quigley's current plan of action and the study.
Quigley is currently taking the lead role in negotiations with Telstra about any possible role of the company's infrastructure in the NBN, as well as talking to other telcos about currently acquiring their assets; moves which Minchin considered could be at odds with the plan.
Conroy clarified that Quigley had the sanction of the government to acquire telco assets if he could do so at the right price, even before the study was handed down in early 2010.
In general, during the hour-long hearing, Conroy himself intercepted quite a few questions directed at Quigley by the opposition, including on matters such as capital funding for the NBN and its pricing plans, while Quigley and Harris spoke relatively little.