NBN deal still 12 months away: Minchin

NBN deal still 12 months away: Minchin

Summary: Shadow Communications Minister Senator Nick Minchin today said he thought it unlikely a builder for the Federal Government's $4.7 billion national broadband network would be locked in for another 12 months.


Shadow Communications Minister Senator Nick Minchin today said he thought it unlikely a builder for the Federal Government's $4.7 billion national broadband network would be locked in for another 12 months.

Shadow Communications
Minister Nick Minchin

(Credit: AUSPIC)

Although he said a preferred bidder would likely be nominated earlier, he told ZDNet.com.au that there would likely be no signature on a contract for another 12 months. "No bidder is going to sign off on a contract until they know what the changes to the regulatory environment will be," he said.

The Labor Government has set the expert panel, responsible for giving advice to the Government on the matter, a deadline of eight weeks after the proposal deadline of 26 November to hand in its recommendations. In order to make an informed decision, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also needs to have considered the tender documents and formed written recommendations on regulatory issues.

Minchin raised the timeline yesterday at a Senate committee on the national broadband network hearing. "It seemed to the committee quite ludicrous," he said.

Even if the ACCC and the expert panel met the deadline, if regulatory change is necessary, the alterations would have to go through the draft legislation channels, which would take a considerable amount of time, Minchin said. There was also no guarantee that any legislation would pass the Senate, which Labor does not control.

"We in the opposition, of course, will be closely scrutinising any reform package that goes up," Minchin said, adding that with $4.7 billion of taxpayer funds on the line, scrutiny was important.

Minchin's scrutiny has already come to bear on the network. He said he questioned the Government on where the $4.7 billion figure had come from, as well as why it had chosen to roll out to 98 per cent of the population, not 99 or 97, with no answer forthcoming as yet. "The whole thing is extraordinarily vague", he said.

The whole thing is extraordinarily vague

Senator Nick Minchin

"The thing we've been frustrated about was the Labor party creating the impression in their campaign that this'd all be rolled out in a flash," Minchin said. "Clearly what came out yesterday was that this is going to be a much more drawn out process."

Minchin wouldn't suggest how the broadband process could be steered into safer waters. "It's not our job to fix up the mess they've got themselves into," he said.

ACCC general manager, communications, Michael Cosgrave said the ACCC's segment of the timeline was do-able, but would not comment further. Communication Minister Senator Stephen Conroy's office did not respond to requests for comment.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Government AU

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • No regulation required. Promt comencement possible

    If Terria wins - Regulation required is
    A/ a monopoly.
    B/ Cooperation with and compensation to be provided to Telstra for the assetts that are on Telstra balance sheet.

    If Telstra wins - only a wholesale price need be negotiated under powers already provided to the ACCC.

    No regulation required.

    As regulation would be required to push Telstra into separation but Telstra will withdraw if seperation is the condition for doing the NBN.


    I beleive no additional regulation necessary. or at least none that can impede the prompt contract signing and comencement of rollout
  • HUH!!!!

    Pity no matter who wins the consumers are going to get screwed over by this...
  • The "Minchin Man" is at it again...

    My favourite quote comes from the Minchin Man when he says "It's not our job to fix up the mess they've got themselves into".

    Clearly he has conveniently forgotten that he caused the "mess" when he flogged Telstra on the ASX.
  • Remember OPEL

    When coonan was the minster she was claiming to be enabling OPEL exchanges and was contradicted by Optus saying they never began
  • Factual errors in article

    It's 4.7 billion up for grabs, not 4.7 million. A number repeated twice in the article.

    Makes a bit of difference
  • NBN

    With the exchange rate falling, cost to Telstra, who’s choice is to use US/French company Alcatel- Lucent to build the NBN, will sky rocket.

    So there will be a whole lot more Australian dollars flowing overseas, which will give Telstra even more incentive (not that they need any anyway) to price gouge long suffering Aussie customers (as well as exporting their call centre jobs overseas).
  • Sydney and James

    I have been mistaken all along, vote 1 Telstra, they are much better than Terria.

    Wowee, look at that I can impersonate someone else too!
  • i do so everly agree

    i do so everly agree that telstra is a pricegouging behemoth that needs to be stopped, buts is australian so lets not
  • Only Morons complain their competitor charges too much.

    If Telstra is a "price gouging" Behemonth when will its shareholders stop losing money and start enjoying said "price gouging" fruits.

    And if Telstra is a "price gouging" behemoth why is it the rest of the Telco competitors cant seem to find an opportunity to win customers !! Surely it should be dream opportunity !

    Yep, in business I always hoped my competitors would drop their prices because I had an unfair advantage.
  • Optus & Terria - Calling all Morons, Calling all Morons


    Only Morons BELIEVE the telco competitor's who complain Telstra charges too much.

    The other Telco's are actually liars who have another agenda. And that is to destroy their biggest competitor.
  • Wakey Wakey Australia.

    Finally, and at last the penny is starting to drop that the people who claim Telstra to be am overcharging, monopolistic 800 kilo rampaging opponent destroying monster are being revealed for their deviousness.

    To those of fair mind the idiotic self-serving Telstra haters are exposed. To those who still claim Terria has a genuine plan to build Australia's NBN the I say wake up you are in dreamworld.
  • Thank you

    That has been rectified. Thanks for pointing that out.
  • Awake to the rorts

    Sydney, if Telstra isn't the ravenous gorger of people's money that they really are then what seriously attracts people to using other companies? The fact is that you get the same, or more, for less.

    Go around the grounds and look at all prices for given products - you can't win this argument because all of the facts, every skerrick of them, are against you and leave Telstra red-faced.
  • Mel...ted brain

    The price argument is the sign of desperation, Telstra can and will never be a long term price leader due to the simple facts.

    (1) The ACCC regulates price in such a way that anytime Telstra lowers retail prices they are forced to lower wholesales or interconnect rates to accommodate the more agressive nature of pricing.

    (2) When Telstra does not have ACCC regulated services they tend to deliver much more robust services then the competition which comes at a cost, a cost that many people are willing to pay.

    (3) The processes for Telstra to amend their pricing they have to go through a complex and convoluted process involving the ACCC for a thing called imputation testing. This not only applies to their wholesale products but every contract that involves customised client pricing must be lodged with the ACCC. NO OTHER COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY IN AUSTRALIA HAS TO GO THROUGH THIS PROCESS!

    We all know that Telstra are (individual item by item) more expensive then most other carriers but if people actually look at what they get and choose the correct products or plans then you will find that Telstra generally offers good value for money.

    Unfortunately there are simply lots of losers like you out there that compare Telstra apples with another company's oranges and say hey look the price is different therefore Telstra is too expensive.