Phone franchise boss to advise on broadband

Allphones franchise chairman Tony Mitchell will join a high powered panel that will assess tenders for the Government’s $4.7 billion national broadband plan.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday announced the make-up of the panel of experts that will advise him on who will be selected to build a national fast broadband network.

Along with Mitchell, the panel will be chaired by Communication Department secretary Patricia Scott and comprised of:

  • John Wylie, Lazard Carnegie Wylie CEO.
  • Laureate Professor Rod Tucker, University of Melbourne.
  • Professor Emeritus of Communications, Reg Coutts, University of Adelaide.
  • Tony Shaw, former Australian Communications Authority chairman.
  • Dr Ken Henry, Treasury Secretary.

Conroy has set an ambitious timetable for the panel, telling ABC radio today that tender guidelines will be issued in April, tenders received by July, a decision made by September and work commenced by the end of the year.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has no representation on the panel, a controversial decision given the significant competition issues involved in the project.

But Conroy says it could have compromised the ACCC to be involved in selection of a tenderer that it may later be required to deal with as a regulator.

The ACCC will continue to have significant input into the tender process and will be available to guide tenderers on the regulatory aspects of their proposals.

“The competitive assessment process will be open and transparent, with opportunities for industry and community input,” Senator Conroy said.

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