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Nick Minchin

Liberal Senator for South Australia

Nick Minchin

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Senator the Hon Nick Minchin

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Kent Town SA 5067

Phone: 08 8362 8600
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Conroy Confirms Green Light for Telco Asset Buy UP Before Completion of NBN Implementation StudyEmail this pageBack

Monday, 19 October 2009 Printer Friendly Version

In Senate Estimates today Communications Minister Stephen Conroy confirmed he has given the CEO of his NBN company Mike Quigley an extraordinary mandate to buy up telecommunications assets months before the expected completion of the project’s implementation study.

Shadow Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Nick Minchin said taxpayers were footing the bill for the $25 million NBN implementation study which is not expected to be completed until next February.

“This study has been commissioned to presumably determine how and if the Government’s $43 billion NBN Mark II project can be implemented,” Senator Minchin said.

“Yet before its completion Senator Conroy has given Mr Quigley a green light to use taxpayers’ money to re-nationalise telecommunications assets, which he thinks might be useful in any NBN roll out,” Senator Minchin said.

Senator Conroy also attempted to prevent Mr Quigley, who appeared before Estimates, from answering whether he believed the NBN could be commercially viable if rolled out in competition to Telstra’s existing network.

Mr Quigley finally provided a very carefully worded, yet less than confident response.

“Per se, I certainly wouldn’t exclude the possibility of providing a return on the investment over the longer term,” he said.

This comes after Senator Conroy last week gloated to The Australian that if Telstra wanted to compete with the NBN “then bring it on”.

“We will build the NBN with or without Telstra … We are building the network irrespective of the outcome of the talks with Telstra,” he said.

In Estimates Senator Conroy also admitted that the only Government equity currently available to the NBN company was $2 billion not $4.7 billion and indicated that funds required beyond this would come from debt raising through bond sales.

“More than six months after the Government announced its $43 billion NBN Mark II proposal, we have seen nothing to suggest that this is anything but an ill-conceived and high-risk speculative venture,” Senator Minchin said.

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