Crucial broadband bill opens up secret network info

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Crucial broadband bill opens up secret network info

The Senate has passed legislation that allows bidders for the Government’s $4.7 billion National Broadband Network to access Telstra's once-secret network information.

Despite some last minute grievances between the Labor Government and the Coalition, the legislation was given the green light at a Senate hearing late last night.

The bill’s acceptance was not without controversy though. Late yesterday afternoon, Shadow communications minister Bruce Billson sought to delay its passage through the House of Representatives unless Coalition-requested amendments were made.

However, after Communication Minister Stephen Conroy accused Billson of stalling the National Broadband Network project, the shadow minister conceded his ground.

"To avoid Senator Conroy misrepresenting our behaviour, the Opposition have again facilitated this process," Billson told Parliament.

The Coalition’s amendments could have delayed the bill’s passage until June when the Senate is next scheduled to sit -- in effect locking out potential bidders from accessing vital information needed to prepare competitive bids.

But Billson’s acquiescence resulted in the Senate shedding the Coalition’s two amendment requests, opting instead for amendments introduced by the Labor Government to meet a compromise.

Bidders now have until Conroy's July 25 deadline to submit proposals for the $10 billion National Broadband Network.
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