iiNet bankrolls NBN FOI request

iiNet has agreed to cover the costs of filing a freedom of information (FOI) request to obtain the panel of experts' National Broadband Network (NBN) report, which the government had previously said could prejudice the outcome of the NBN tender if released publicly.

update iiNet has agreed to cover the costs of filing a freedom of information (FOI) request to obtain the panel of experts' National Broadband Network (NBN) report, which the government had previously said could prejudice the outcome of the NBN tender if released publicly.

The report, which was received by the Communications Minister in January this year, details the panel of experts' recommendations on submissions to the tender process to build the government's proposed $4.7 billion National Broadband Network.

The FOI request was filed by online blog Tech Wired Australia, which received a bill of $3,632 to cover associated administrative costs. iiNet then approached the blog to cover the costs of the request.

Tech Wired Australia's request comes off the back of the government's previous refusal to release the report. At the time, a statement from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital economy said:

"The disclosure of the contents of the panel of experts' report before the completion of the process, particularly any negotiation phase, has the potential to prejudice the outcome of the process."

However, iiNet chief regulatory officer Stephen Dalby said that "iiNet offered to fund Tech Wired's FOI application simply on the basis that this government promised us all that 'the competitive assessment process will be open and transparent, with opportunities for industry and community input'.

"We have placed a condition on our financial assistance to Tech Wired — that it must publish the document, so there's hardly likely to be any advantage to iiNet," Dalby said. "It might just spark some community input, however."

The Federal Senate has also passed a motion which forces the Rudd Government to release the National Broadband Network reports from the ACCC and the expert panel: but only after the winning bidder has been selected.