The Federal Government today said it wasn't yet sure
whether it would publish the multimillion-dollar National
Broadband implementation study currently being undertaken by
consulting firms McKinsey and KPMG.
In this year's budget, the government allocated $53 million
towards consulting fees for the study, which will look at
engineering, commercial and structural issues facing the builder of
the network and is set to be delivered to the government by early
However, answering a question from a Senate committee (of which
Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin is a member) this
afternoon, the new chief of the Department of Communications,
Broadband and the Digital Economy Peter Harris said the government
hadn't yet considered whether the study will be published.
The government has previously declined to release several
reports into the first NBN tender process, from an expert panel
appointed to oversee the process and the Australian Communications
and Media Authority, despite intense pressure from the Opposition
to do so.
In the Senate hearing today, Minchin questioned Communications
Minister Stephen Conroy, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley and Harris on what
the relationship was between Quigley's current plan of action and
Quigley is currently taking the lead role in negotiations with
Telstra about any possible role of the company's infrastructure in
the NBN, as well as talking to other telcos about currently
acquiring their assets; moves which Minchin considered could be at
odds with the plan.
Conroy clarified that Quigley had the sanction of the government
to acquire telco assets if he could do so at the right price, even
before the study was handed down in early 2010.
In general, during the hour-long hearing, Conroy himself
intercepted quite a few questions directed at Quigley by the
opposition, including on matters such as capital funding for the
NBN and its pricing plans, while Quigley and Harris spoke