Details of the company established to bring the Federal Government's $43 billion broadband vision to life remained unavailable this week, despite government assurances it had been registered.
ASIC does not appear to have a record of a company by the name the minister mentioned
Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin
In a speech on Tuesday to the National Press Club in Canberra, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the company had been "established", with a search to kick off shortly to find its chief executive. He named the company in associated speech notes as the "National Broadband Network Company".
A spokesperson for Conroy later said the company was incorporated with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on 8 April "under the normal processes", although they were not able to provide further details and have not (at the time of print) disclosed the associated Australian Company Number (ACN).
Broad searches by the opposition and ZDNet.com.au of ASIC's database and the Australian Business Register for the company's registration details have not been successful in finding the company's details.
"Senator Conroy clearly stated that the National Broadband Network Company has been established on behalf of Australian taxpayers; the onus is on him to now provide some further details," Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin said.
Minchin questioned whether the company had a constitution and whether any directors had been named. "ASIC does not appear to have a record of a company by the name the minister mentioned, so at this stage perhaps it is just a number, a broadband company with no name," he added.
Minister Nick Minchin
It is possible the company could have been registered using a temporary name that did not include any reference to "broadband", "NBN" or any other search terms, as it has not yet been formally named. It could have also simply been registered with a number.
"Matters such as the appointment of company board and executive, as well as the formal naming of the company will be considered in the coming weeks and months," Conroy's spokesperson said.
The news comes as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was in Tasmania this week, to discuss among other things the imminent roll-out of the NBN in the state with Premier David Bartlett. The state and Rudd's government are locked in negotiations regarding the implementation. However, speaking with journalists, Rudd did not provide any concrete details about the government's NBN plans in Tasmania.
"I cannot give you the month nor the day," he said. "But it will be in the second half of the year."