Conroy’s NBN stalling may cause Greens pullout


The Greens have reportedly threatened to pull their support for the Federal Government’s controversial telecommunications reform legislation due to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s decision not to yet release the National Broadband Implementation study.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam had successfully passed a Senate order requiring Conroy to hand over the study, which details consultants McKinsey and KPMG’s recommendations for implementing the NBN scheme and its associated company.

But Business Spectator reported this afternoon that Ludlam had grown tired of waiting and had warned the Government was “basically burning the goodwill of the crossbenches”.

A lack of Greens support for the legislation would torpedo the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill, which features among its pages provisions to ensure the break-up of Telstra into wholesale and retail divisions.

Conroy today said the Government was now taking time to review the study. “It is sensible, responsible and appropriate for governments to take some time to consider reports they receive before decisions are made about release and next steps,” he said.

The minister did not directly address the Greens criticism but instead said the “hypocrisy” of the Opposition was “on full display” regarding the matter.

“The Howard Government on many occasions either failed to release reports or studies they were provided, or did so after a significant period of time,” he said. “I am advised that between 1 July 2005 and 2007 only one motion for the production of documents in the Senate was agreed to.”

“For them to now criticise the Government for a lack of transparency and for not releasing the Implementation Study after having received it on 5 March, less than two weeks ago, is the height of hypocrisy.”

According to its original brief, the implementation study will determine the operating arrangements for the NBN Company, as well as detailing network design and financial details — for example, attracting private sector investment.

However, since NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley came on board last year, the company has already taken action on a number of fronts which the tender documents mentioned would be covered by the implementation study — such as key decisions on network design. The NBN Co has also kickstarted various procurement processes associated with the NBN buildout.

Image credit: Delimiter