Stephen Conroy's Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has refused the iiNet-backed Tech Wired Australia request to access the expert panel's recommendations on the National Broadband Network bids using freedom of information laws.
The department sent a 17-page document to Tech Wired, listing its reasons for refusing the request, which in summarised form added up to the panel's report being exempt under sections 34 and 36 of the Freedom of Information Act.
The exemption was based on the report being a document which was made for the purposes of Cabinet consideration and that it wasn't in the public's interest to disclose it since the factors against disclosure of the report outweighed the factors in favour of disclosure of the report.
Tech Wired had already paid a deposit of $908 to access the report. The total costs of obtaining the documents would have been $3,631.99, according to the department, based on the work which would have been involved in processing the request.
iiNet had volunteered to bankroll Tech Wired's Freedom of Information request because the government had promised that the competitive assessment process would be open and transparent, with opportunities for industry and community input.
The condition of iiNet's funding was that Tech Wired publish the documents.