Ludlam 'wins' NBN study round 1

Ludlam 'wins' NBN study round 1

Summary: The Senate has ordered the Federal Government to produce a copy of the National Broadband Network implementation study, but the government may still refuse, says Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.


The Senate has ordered the Federal Government to produce a copy of the National Broadband Network implementation study, but the government may still refuse, says Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam successfully moved a motion in the upper house on Thursday calling on Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to release the report. The coalition backed Senator Ludlam's move.

Conroy now has until 10am on 17 March to do so.

But Ludlam told that the successful motion means the nation was only "halfway there" to getting Conroy to release the study.

"The government opposed that order, so now we have to wait until Wednesday morning, which is when the order requests the government to produce that material," he said. The government could still refuse to hand over the study, he said.

The Senate was powerful enough that it could choose to pursue some severe remedies to get the minister to hand the material over, according to Ludlam, but he added that normally such a situation would lead to a stand-off.

The Senate faced a similar situation when the government was ordered to produce documents relating to the initial fibre-to-the-node NBN proposal, Ludlam said. The government didn't table the expert panel's findings or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's report until well after the date the Senate had intended it to do so.

Ludlam hoped that the Senate wouldn't see a repeat. "We're hoping that government will see that it's essential that the documents are put into the public domain and they probably know that," he said.

The Greens senator didn't think the study had to be released before the Telstra separation Bill was debated, unlike the Opposition which failed in its attempt to delay the Telstra separation Bill yesterday. .

Its broader negotiations with the government on the Telstra-split legislation were still unfinished, said Ludlam.

The Greens' key concern appears to be around the trigger for NBN Co's privatisation, which in the recently released NBN draft legislation outlined that it would be done after a period of five years.

"The last thing we want to see is an automatic privatisation trigger. That's quite wrong-headed," he said. "At the moment, it will be privatised subject to market conditions. It should be subject to a public interest test to work out whether it's a good idea or not."

Topics: Telcos, Broadband, Telstra, NBN

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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  • Stand and Deliver. Produce the Study.

    Despite what Paul Keating said about the Senate the reason for their existence is now clear. Good work Senator Ludlam keep the bastards honest.
  • Your comments don't make sense....

    You condemn Labor Government over NBN and Telstra, yet praise Senator Ludlam over keeping them honest?

    We knew the Greens were going to ask the gov for public release of the implementation study, that was a given (unlike the Liberals/Coalition, (whoever they are now) who just oppose and attack).

    I actually support this motion.

    Oh Sydney. What will happen if the Greens and Co (other than Libs) will support NBN build? If you actually read the article, their main concern is around NBNCo's privatization (the trigger).

    Don't be so quick to be so negative about the NBN.
  • Ignored

    The Labour government along with Conroy will just ignore this request as they have shown a complete disregard for the senate proceesses in the past.

    Why would a dictatorship as we have now in labour listen to these requests. Lets hope that the senate will use its power to punish Conroy and labour if they dont produce the report on time.

    Anyone else starting to get the feeling we are being constantly lied to by labour.
  • Where is the ACCC.

    My only complaint concerns the Rudd Governments blackmail and threat in an effort to remove Telstra as a competitor to the NBN Co.

    If the NBN Co. rolls out the fibre and establishes a business, fine, but don't erect regulation to drive competitors from the industry.

    This Rudd promise to the Australian people could develop into a very nasty problem for Mr Rudd at the next election.
  • Tax payers money at work - or not

    Tax payers funded the study/report. Therefore, produce the report. Who enabled these so called representatives of the people, to make their own rules and completely disregard those who helped vote them into office as our representatives? About time these cowboy types were lassoed and put out to pasture.
  • Ignored, I wish they do!

    I agree, see below.

    E-mail sent today

    “Dear Senator Ludlam,

    Congratulations on your great achievement.

    The following report clearly demonstrates the fact that the study details are an essential part and parcel of the considerations by the Senate into the current Telstra legislation which, in fact, means – no study, no legislation pass.

    Kind Regards”

    NBN study prices cheap, slow broadband
    By Liam Tung,
    11 March 2010 05:29 PM

    Tags: iinet, internode, mike quigley, nbn co, netspace, optus, scott ludlam, stephen conroy

    analysis If Greens Senator Scott Ludlam wins his fight to have the government table the National Broadband Network (NBN) implementation study, what will he find?

    If Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy is true to his word, it will contain the gory details of how to get the lowest paying broadband customers onto fibre.

    In April last year, shortly after the announcement that the government would go it alone on the NBN, Conroy laid out fairly clearly what would be in the study.

    “No consumer or business will be forced to pay anything for services on the NBN,” said Conroy. “But clearly affordability is an important factor to drive take-up. NBN prices cannot be structured without having careful regard to the prices people pay today for comparable services… The implementation study will give careful regard to pricing levels on the National Broadband Network.”

    In other words, the study will try to define a wholesale price that will enable retail service providers to offer packages that are cheap enough to lure the very bottom of Australia’s broadband user base to the new deal.

    What the study could safely assume, as has been borne out by the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s recent figures, is that even if higher speeds become available, Australian consumers might not pay extra to take them up. But they will take higher speeds if they become available at the same price as today.

    What it will all boil down to is the study’s pricing recommendations for slower connections — not 100Mbps but 1 to 8Mbps, where 30 per cent of all internet connections sit. Can it, for example, provide 20Mbps — the current maximum for ADSL2+ — at a lower cost than what internet service providers (ISPs) are currently paying to install their own “DSLAMs” in Telstra’s exchanges?

    iPrimus’ cheapest copper network ADSL2+ is $30 a month on a 3GB download quota, which is provided over Telstra’s unbundled local loop at a cost of $16.70 per month in metropolitan areas.

    It’s not just fixed-line pricing the study will have to take into account when considering how low pricing has to go for the network to be viable, but also the price and speed of wireless broadband. As has become clear in the past two years, wireless broadband is snapping at the heels of fixed line broadband, which also means it is snapping at NBN Co’s.” ……… Continued:,130061791,339301701,00.htm
  • I disagree.

    Where was the ACCC when Telstra were blackmailing Government into giving them all sorts of new powers (Telstra?) and the ability to control any future networks by using FTTN as leverage?

    It's not a promise, it's a policy.