NBN experts submit regulatory review to govt

Conroy “committed” to picking broadband winner by March

A six-week review into the regulatory environment for Australia's looming National Broadband Network (NBN) has been completed and received by the federal government.

The report written by a panel of eight industry experts will be reviewed by the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) before the winner of the NBN tender is announced.

Spokeswoman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, Emma Dawson, said the government will not comment on the details of the report.

She said the minister is committed to choosing an NBN winner by the end of March, but reserves the right to delay the decision “subject to the nature and complexity” of the reports and bids.

Conroy said the government was not privy to the details of the report or the six NBN bids received until now.

“Until this point, the evaluation of proposals received in the NBN process has proceeded at arm’s length from the government,” Conroy said .

“The government had not seen the contents of any proposal, nor had it received detailed briefings on any proposals from the panel of experts.”

Dawson said the government will not comment on the contents because it will prejudice the NBN process.

Shadow communications minister Nick Minchin said the governments' NBN gag policy — which bans detailed discussion of bids and regulatory decisions — is baseless.

"[Conroy's] argument that keeping the Australian public informed and providing an opportunity for comment will somehow prejudice this process is complete nonsense,” Minchin said.

Contenders for the NBN include national proposals from Terria-Optus, Acacia and Axia NetMedia; and state bids from TransACT, and the Tasmanian government. Canadian-based company.

The members on the expert panel are John Wylie, Lazard Carnegie Wylie CEO; Tony Mitchell, Allphones Chairman; Laureate Professor Rod Tucker, University of Melbourne; Professor Emeritus of Communications, Reg Coutts, University of Adelaide; Tony Shaw, former Australian Communications Authority Chairman and Dr Ken Henry, Treasury Secretary.

Conroy thanked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for its contribution to the panel.

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