Minchin tries members' bill for NBN scrutiny

Minchin tries members' bill for NBN scrutiny

Summary: Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin has introduced a private members' bill to subject the Government's $43 billion National Broadband Network to a cost/benefit analysis by Infrastructure Australia.


Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin has introduced a private members' bill to subject the Government's $43 billion National Broadband Network to a cost/benefit analysis by Infrastructure Australia.

Minchin's bill attempts to amend the Infrastructure Australia Bill 2008, which would bring the National Broadband Network into the scope of the body's assessment and would result in the Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy being compelled to outline how the project was assessed and subsequently release details in parliament.

Infrastructure Australia currently oversees the allocation of the $2.4 billion collected from Telstra's privatisation, which currently sits within in the Building Australia Fund.

"Labor has said its original failed NBN Mark I proposal was immune from [Infrastructure Australia] scrutiny because it was an election promise," Minchin said in a statement yesterday. "This lame excuse does not cut it for NBN Mark II, as it is an entirely different and vastly more expensive proposal."

Minchin targeted Section 5 of the Act, which relates to Infrastructure Australia's duty to evaluate proposals for investment in "nationally significant infrastructure".

"This bill ... is designed to ensure that some degree of proper scrutiny and due diligence is applied to a project that will put at risk billions of taxpayer dollars," Minchin said.

The private members' bill follows a Freedom of Information request by Minchin to access the NBN Expert Panel documents and advice provided by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which led to it ditching the $4.7 billion NBN proposal.

Earlier this month Minchin succeeded in his effort to have the Australian National Audit Office interrogate the first tender process, with the report due by mid 2010.

If Minchin decided to activate the bill he would still need the support of the Greens and independents to create a debate. There would also be no obligation for the House of Representatives to consider it.

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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  • FoI

    "The private members' bill follows a failed Freedom of Information request by Minchin"

    Minchin is still in the process of the FoI application.
  • Right

    hey Ben,

    you're right, it is still in the process, I will amend the article.


    Renai LeMay
    News Editor
  • another one for Ol' Nick

    Senator Nick could expand his pmb to include an investigation of the cost to Australia (and Australians) resulting from the previous government selling Telstra as a fixed-line monopoly.

    After all, he was said to be one of the main supporters of including the network in the sale, which resulted in the situation that we have to live with at present.
  • Telstra Sharholders screwed!!!!

    Qiut simply the Government will not release the information because they will lose the upper hand & be exposed as to how they plan to screw Telstra shareholders when/IF they "vend" in to NBN!!!
  • Taxpayers screwed under NBN!!!

    Refer to this article as to how Taxpayers will be screwed!!

  • easy answer

  • re easy answer

    A typical reply, from the ill informed. In other words, if it is a Telstra problem, stuff 'em.
  • yes it is easy

    a typical reply from a poor sorry shareholder. who has lost too much to sell.
  • Thodey should not VEND in!!

    Sol had one thing right!!

    Management should be shot if the dismember Telstra!!!
  • Nothing has changed - I mean Telstras competitive right? They have a good produc

    If Testra have fair prices and a good product that can stand on its own mertis, they can't be screwed by NBN anymore than any other Teclo/ISP.

    If you as a shareholder allowed Telstra to operate so that it did not have good product, fair prices etc, well you reap what you sow.

    Its not like Telstra will lose it's current infrastructure, and Telstra will presumably have access to the NBN themselves, allbeit non exclusive.

    So all that will change is that they will have competition.
    Which is of course a real problem for Telstra, because they have elected to abuse their incumbant position and remain non competitive for so long.

    Oh well.
    So sad. Learn fast, sink or swim.
  • Wrong there.

    Nope, got none to sell. Nor do you obviously, but why the terse comment.
  • Nothing has changed - I mean Telstras competitive right? They have a good produc

    You sound like a typical anti-Telstra commentator, Why do you always expect lowest price. So keep on backing the overseas interests, keep bagging Telstra, and keep on being un-Australian.
  • no nothing has changed....

  • no nothing has changed....

    Exposed again...................dammit, but still trying !!! I will however stick with the principle that in most cases what you pay for is what you get. And with Telstra you get what you pay for (I believe in most cases).
  • @nothing has changed

    yes you pay for overpaid execs to do a half baked transformation, introduce a flawed billing system, **ss off the government, workforce, unions, accc, customers, primarily anyone but sucky shareholders and then go ***t it's all too hard give me my $30m, see ya later.

    yes with telstra you get what you pay for and you deserve what you get - enjoy.
  • re @nothing has changed.

    Well Jason, nothing at all has changed in your attitude towards Telstra shareholders, that's for sure. What is your problem ? Is it because you never had the opportunity to own Telstra shares, that makes you so bitter. It is not the fault of (the majority at least) of Telstra shareholders that the 3 Amigos were hired, and paid what they were. The Mum and Dad shareholders of Australia, that were sucked in by the Howard Governments sale of Telstra, had f..k all to do with the running of the company, but you treat us all, as if we did, and are responsible for the way Sol and his insiders ran the place. All I can say is, "get a life mate" and stop bagging Telstra like you do. Whatever pleasure you get out of seeing Telstra shares doing badly, is a mystery to me, and I just cannot understand what motivates you to do it, unless you are simply hoping that a lot of people lose out on something that you do not have.