Conroy blames ‘eager officials’ and waiting on ACCC for business case debacle

Conroy blames ‘eager officials’ and waiting on ACCC for business case debacle

Delay in releasing NBN Co business case and the now infamous seven-year non-disclosure agreement pinned on the ACCC and over zealous officials

Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy , has blamed a slow decision from the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission (ACCC) and over zealous officials for the dissent surrounding National Broadband Network (NBN) business case.

The Federal Government backed down on its decision to not release the NBN Co business case report by compromising and releasing a condensed version of the document which secured it the support of South Australia Independent, Nick Xenophon, for the telco reform bill.

Download NBN Co business case summary here

The bill will pave the way for the structural separation of Telstra and facilitate the NBN’s $13.8 million deal between the telco and NBN Co; both are crucial to NBN plans.

Xenophon, as well as the Coalition, had demanded the business case to be made public before throwing his support for the Government. He has since been offered a personal briefing with NBN Co chief, Mike Quigley.

Both Xenophon and Family First Senator, Steve Fielding, have agreed to vote for the telco reforms bill which means the legislation is likely to be passed.

Speaking on the ABC news program, Lateline, Senator Conroy highlighted the Government was waiting for recommendations from the ACCC before releasing the full business case. The recommendations are crucial for the Cabinet to make key decisions, he said.

Instead, the Government has compromised with a 36-page bite-sized version of the business case document.

When questioned about the controversial seven-year non-disclosure agreement, which the Independents and Greens were asked to sign as a condition to a full business case briefing, Senator Conroy pinned it on some “eager officials”.

The draconian non-disclosure agreement was savaged by the Coalition. The length of the agreement was subsequently reduced and ultimately dumped after yesterday’s release of the business case summary.

“I think there were some very eager officials in one of the departments that were very keen to ensure we had maximum confidentiality,” he said. “Once we were able to see what was being put forward, we agreed with the proposition that they were a little over-eager in terms of the time that they were seeking when the majority of this information would be available within a few weeks' time in December.”

Despite the release of the business case summary, Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said the document was "curiously inadequate" since it doesn't include profit and loss statements, cash flow statements and other financial information.

The telco reform bill will be voted in the Senate today.

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Tags Malcolm TurnbullTelstraStephen ConroyNational Broadband Network (NBN)Australian Competition and Consumers Commission (ACCC)Steven Fielding


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