NBN expert, ACCC reports to remain secret

NBN expert, ACCC reports to remain secret

Summary: The Federal Government today confirmed that it would not release the full National Broadband Network expert panel or Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommendations today as an opposition Senate motion had appeared to require.


update The Federal Government today confirmed that it would not release the full National Broadband Network expert panel or Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommendations as an opposition Senate motion had appeared to require.

In February, Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin submitted a motion to the Senate which would have had that report and the regulatory report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released the next day. A compromise led to the motion being amended today that the documents would be tabled "the day after the winning bid is announced".

"The remainder of the expert panel's report contains confidential commercial information so will not be released," a spokesperson for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told ZDNet.com.au this morning. "The ACCC report also contains confidential information. The minister will be asking the department whether or not there may be aspects of the report suitable for release."

Although a summary of the expert panel's decision was released yesterday, which sketches the panel's general reasoning for turning down the bidders — the problem of paying compensation to Telstra for the use of its copper, the current financial conditions and that "none of the national proposals was sufficiently well developed to present a value for money outcome" — the full report backing these statements has not yet been tabled.

Speculation is rife in the telecommunications industry that the wording of the Senate motion could present the government with a loophole not to release the full documents at all, since no winning bidder has in fact been announced. Instead, the government turned down all bids, announcing it would itself form a corporation to roll out fibre to 90 per cent of Australian homes and businesses.

The reports, which had been written over a number of weeks at the end of last year, had been kept private because of commercial sensitivities.

"The panel can see a way forward to achieve the outcomes sought by the government and has provided that advice in confidence to the government because of the commercial sensitivities arising," the extract released yesterday said.

The Department for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy has already rebuffed one Freedom of Information request to obtain the documents on the grounds that it was not in the public interest for the documents to be released.

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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  • Secrets, lies and flip-flops.

    Department of Communications, my butt.
  • Another Labor backflip

    It's funny isn't it. Labor claims they are all for FOI reform and then they backflip on documentation relating to the FTTN.

    Labor's ability to steer the ship in a straight line regardless of the direction the wind is blowing is about equal to KRudd's table manners on his 737.
  • It has a Howard/Coonan stench about it, doesn't it?

    Seems Labor has disgracefully stolen this idea from Howard/Coonan, with their secretive little OPEL deal.

    Just not as bad. A private company aren't to receive an extra $300m buddy bonus, this time around.
  • No "buddy bonus", think again...

    It's a little early to say there won't be any buddy bonus... After all, Messieurs Conroy and Rudd aren't going to build this thing with their bare hands.

    Private (or listed) companies will still be involved, and large sums of money will still change hands. What's different is the resulting ownership.
  • No Jason, it doesn't.

    Jason, again irrelevant. Howard has retired. This thread is about what is happening in the real world and not in your imagination.
  • Fantasy, Dreams and Horror.

    Good comment Mel. Jason, what is wrong with your thought process powers?

    You fantasize with past happenings. We are concerned with today and the fact that Mr Rudd is sending Australia broke by pulling 43 billion dollar schemes out of his back pocket (or out of systems in that area) and this is what we must concentrate on.

    For the NBN to work Mr Rudd will need to buy a lot of infrustructure from others and pay a lot of compensation. And probably charge upwards of $200 per month for their fast service. I for one will stay with my present server.
  • Investment wont send you broke

    So you didn't mind Howard lashing Billions on the wealthy through tax cuts and middle class welfare, but object to Rudd building some much needed infrastructure?
    If "commercially viable" then the expenditure will generate profit to cover costs. Because the government owns the resulting asset they can either profit from it, or let the community profit. This is how infrastructure *should* be done.
    The myth of "private is cheaper" is now totally blown.
  • Finally!

    So we finally have a plan that has got the experts excited. Build for the future, not the past.
    Anyone who still thinks that private companies would take this sort of risk without a *huge* profit incentive has not been paying attention.
    Governments can source credit *much* cheaper than companies, and can run it under FOI conditions instead of "commercial in confidence".
    Telstra might even start charging reasonable rates.
  • FOI conditions!

    Andy you have got to be kidding. When has a govt agreed with FOI unless it suits it needs or is forced to. Try getting the experts report through FOI and see what happens
  • He was sacked, get it right, Brad

    As usual it's ok for Howard to have done it but not Rudd? Nice typical biased view Brad (Mel, Lord Watchdog, Steve, anonymous and others).

    But Howard didn't retire? He lost his seat/was sacked, rofl.

    He was only the 2nd PM to ever have been considered so hopeless, that his own constituents, your neighbours, sacked him. But at least he wasn't a SACKED VOLUNTEER like you though Brad, rofl.

    Howard is now one of your so nicely called "dole bludgers", you imperforate anus.
  • @fantasy, dreams, blah....

    Sydney I have always said I wouldn't attack you, as you are attacked enough. But it seems it isn't mutual. So I have no choice but to respond.

    You are involved in more arguments here than both Mel and I combined, due to your ridiculous "thought process powers".

    Seriously, the sooner you understand there's more to Australian telecommunications than the Lawrence share portfolio, the less foolish and greedy you will look!
  • Fools can play too Jason.

    Jason I don't believe that was your best shot. Don't hold back pal, I understand that yours is only one fools opinion. LOL.

    Truly though, we all have our view and in out great country we can all have our say. Perhaps it is a fact that all are not as intelligently superlative as you but we all contribute something.
  • And again

    And again Sydney.

    The sooner you understand there's more to Australian telecommunications than the Lawrence share portfolio, the less foolish and greedy you will look!