Appeal pries open WiMAX contract for Telstra

Appeal pries open WiMAX contract for Telstra

Telstra given three weeks' access to OPEL deal

Telstra has won access to the coveted government files detailing why Opel won the $958 million subsidy to build a national broadband network.

The telco engaged in a series of high-profile debates with the Howard government, culminating in a personal lawsuit against the then Communications minister Helen Coonan, over its decision to award the lucrative contract to the Optus-led consortium.

The government has until March 10 to hand the documents over to Telstra, following a decision by three Federal Court judges to overturn a previous rule in October last year to deny the telco access to the files.

Telstra will have three weeks to review the documents for information which could stymie the deal through further legal action.

Telstra group general counsel Will Irving said it will decide whether to pursue action against the Opel contract based on information in the government documents.

"This is a good outcome because it may take us one step closer to knowing what went on behind closed doors, and then being able to assess whether more formal action is warranted," Irving said.

Telstra general manager of public policy Dr Phil Burgess said the decision will give transparency to how the government awarded the contract.

"Taxpayers expect transparency when it comes to how $1 billion of their money is spent, and shareholders expect to know why the former government intervened in a competitive market with public funding for OPEL," Dr Burgess said.

"OPEL is now eight months old and [there is] still no network, no roll out plan, no personnel and no management. Hopefully this decision will be the first step in understanding how this billion-dollar boondoggle ever came to be."

A further hearing scheduled for March 17 will decide whether Telstra will have access to the documents' most sensitive information.

Opel is yet to receive government funding more than eight months after the contract was signed.

Click to send your opinion to Darren Pauli.

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