NBN implementation report in Conroy's hands

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NBN implementation report in Conroy's hands

Senators call for report to be made public.

The Government's $25m NBN implementation study has been finalised, but the full report may be kept from Parliament and the public, the Senate heard today.

A spokesman for the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) confirmed that the report, which would determine operating and governance arrangements for NBN Co, had been received on March 5.

It was produced by professional services firm KPMG and management consultancy McKinsey and Company, which won NBN Co's lead adviser role last August.

In February, DBCDE secretary Peter Harris told Parliament that the report would be provided to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who would determine which parts would be shared with other government departments, and whether it would be released to the public.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam told the Senate this morning that the DBCDE would now be "making their minds up about whether that [implementation study report] will be provided to the parliament."

Ludlam revealed plans to file a notice of motion that would demand the full report be tabled in the Senate, so its contents would be in the public domain.

"It's completely unacceptable," he told iTnews. "It's [the report] the closest thing we've got to an independent report on whether the NBN would stack up."

"I would be surprised if they [Conroy's office] don't comply with the order," he said. "It won't be taken lightly."

The DBCDE spokesman told iTnews that the department was reviewing the implementation study report.

"The NBN is a significant and complex project and that is why the Government commissioned a detailed Implementation Study," she said.

"We will now take some time to review and consider the content before decisions are made about next steps."

Telstra break-up Bill

Also at the Senate hearing this morning, Opposition Senator Nick Minchin moved to adjourn talks of telecommunications legislation amendments until results of the study were available.

The 'Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009' was intended to functionally separate Telstra.

Minchin argued that the bill was: "intrinsically linked to the NBN; it's a way of blackmailing Telstra to work the NBN ... [and of] renationalising Telstra's fixed-line network."

Senator Stephen Parry, also of the Liberal Party, supported Minchin's proposal, saying findings of the implementation study would be relevant to the Telstra debate.

"All we need is simply to see the implementation study and that will enable the Senate to make a decision," Parry said. "Why have a study at all if it's not to be used in our deliberation?"

Minchin's motion was rejected, with 31 supporters and 32 opposed. The Senate was to resume its discussion about the Bill at 4pm today.

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