Government confirms “ambition” to sign NBN contract by March

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Government confirms “ambition” to sign NBN contract by March

Opposition communications spokesman Nick Minchin has derided the government’s lack of “openness and transparency” on the NBN, as it continues to shield the results of the expert panel’s report from the public.

Senator Minchin repeatedly questioned Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy today on whether the Federal Government would be ready to sign a contract with a successful tenderer in March.

He also continued to probe the issue of whether a contract would be signed before or after Parliament had debated and approved amendments to the regulatory framework in which the successful tenderer will operate.

It has previously been reported that bidders left in the NBN process - including Optus, Axia NetMedia, and Acacia - may seek regulatory guarantees before signing a contract with the Government.

"I have already stated that we are not going to comment on the ongoing discussions that are taking place, because they go to the heart of commercial matters," Conroy told the Senate.

"They go to the heart of the government's negotiating position."

"We have made it clear: asking us ongoing questions while the process is still afoot undermines and is deliberately intended to undermine the Commonwealth's position, and we will not be answering questions while we are engaged in these sensitive commercial negotiations," Conroy said.

Conroy reiterated that it was the Government's "ambition" to sign a contract by the end of March, but he did not elaborate further.

Minchin openly criticised the wording of Conroy's response as "most confusing".

"So much for the openness and transparency we were promised in relation to this project," he said.

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