The Federal Election delayed the legal work for Telstra's multibillion-dollar involvement in the National Broadband Network (NBN) but information should be ready for shareholders before the company's annual general meeting in November, according to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.
The delay has reportedly upset Future Fund chairman David Murray, who said his organisation, which has a large holding in Telstra, is in the dark about the $11 billion heads of agreement struck between NBN Co and the giant telco in June. The deal would see Telstra close its copper networks down, provide access to infrastructure and transfer its customers onto the fibre network.
"We don't know what the terms of the agreement are," Murray told The Australian Financial Review today.
Conroy told ABC Radio this morning that details will be made available to Telstra shareholders prior to Telstra's annual general meeting on 19 November.
"There has been about an eight-week delay due to the election campaign and the uncertainty after," he said.
"I understand that Telstra would have hoped to have signed what we call the long form agreement so that the agreement can be published before their annual meeting in November," he said. "Telstra has always indicated they will circulate all their material for shareholders to vote on in February, March, April next year."
In the ABC interview, Conroy also spoke on the new regional focus for the network.
Independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, having thrown their support behind Labor to form a minority government, want regional areas to have priority as the high-speed network is rolled out.
Some analysts claim the funding model for the network will be distorted by a forced regional roll-out, but Conroy said it was always the plan to deploy the network across all areas of Australia.
"The analysts are all basing their assessments on a roll-out that was in their minds entirely focused on the metro areas. When the NBN is being rolled out there will be 31 different sites [implemented simultaneously] at its absolute peak," he said. "What this agreement does, it says that instead of it all being metropolitan there will be prioritised regional areas. That doesn't mean we're not building in metropolitan Australia as well."
NBN Co will be publishing its work plan in the coming months as it is able to factor in this new agreement with the independents, according to Conroy.
The communications minister noted that the roll-out of the network in Tasmania was on time and currently 10 per cent under budget. He rejected claims from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that the project could be "school halls on steroids", stating that the network roll-out was on schedule and on budget across Australia.
AAP contributed to this article.