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Senate Estimates confirm further delays in National Broadband Network.

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Senator the Hon Nick Minchin Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

The already delayed roll-out of Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN) will take even longer to commence following evidence given to a Senate Estimates Committee today, said Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Minchin.

“The responsible Minister, Senator Conroy, today confirmed that legislative and regulatory change will be necessary to facilitate the roll-out of the Network.

“The drafting, debating, finalising and implementation of the requisite legislative and regulatory changes will add considerably to the timeline for the commencement of the NBN.

“It is also clear that the preferred tenderer could not possibly sign a final contract to undertake the build unless and until the legislative and regulatory framework is put in place.

“Minister Conroy and the Government have clearly misled the Australian people about the timeline for the roll-out of a NBN.

“The Government is clearly going to break its promise to commence the roll-out by the end of 2008 and it probably won’t commence until well into 2009.

“The Government seems to have taken no account of the time required to put in place new legislation and regulations to govern the Network.

“Nor does the Government seem to understand that no tenderer let alone the Government itself, could possibly sign a binding, final contract until they know the outcome of the legislative and regulatory processes.

“While the Opposition will be constructive in its approach to new legislation and regulations, there will obviously have to be a lengthy period of industry and community consultation on the Government’s proposals, debate of the proposals in the House of Representatives; a full Senate inquiry, and debate in the Senate.

“The Government should come clean, admit it has misled the Australian people, and admit that the roll-out of its Network probably won’t even commence until well into 2009, two years after it was elected.” said Senator Minchin.