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Minchin won't pay for NBN FOI

Shadow Minister for Communications Nick Minchin says he won't pay the $24,000 being asked by the government to process his Freedom of Information (FOI) request for documents relating to the first NBN proposal.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on

Shadow Minister for Communications Nick Minchin says he won't pay the $24,000 being asked by the government to process his Freedom of Information (FOI) request for documents relating to the first NBN proposal.

"The Opposition is not in the position to waste $24,000 on this FOI request and the Rudd Government knows it," Minchin said in a statement issued late yesterday.

The documents Minchin was hoping to access contain advice from the expert panel and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission relating to the government's initial $4.7 billion National Broadband Network tender process, which was terminated in early April due to a lack of suitable proposals.

The shadow minister was also chasing a "short secret letter" from the panel, which was supposed to outline a way forward following the government's decision to ditch the initial proposal.

The FOI request, if paid for, would have covered 453 documents held by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (BCDE), 22 documents held by Treasury and a few more by the departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Finance and Deregulation, Minchin said.

"This further suggests, as did recent Senate Estimates hearings, that Treasury, Finance and PM and C had very little official involvement in the costing and development of a $43 billion proposal, which will be funded from a base of substantial Rudd government debt and deficit," he said.

The price tag attached to the scope of Minchin's request was substantially more than the $3632 fee attached to an earlier FOI request by technology blog site, TechWired. Internet service provider iiNet had offered to bankroll the request, though the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy had rejected the request.

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