Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity
Government announces Panel of Experts to assess National Broadband Network proposals
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, today announced the Panel of Experts to assess proposals to build the National Broadband Network.
The Panel will be chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Ms Patricia Scott. The other members of the 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.
- Dr Ken Henry AC, Treasury Secretary.
“The Panel will bring a fine blend of technical, regulatory, business, investment and policy skills and experience to the process,” Senator Conroy said.
“The Government will formally call for innovative and competitive proposals to roll-out the new network with a view to having construction underway by the end of 2008.”
The Panel will be supported by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, with support from other key departments and specialist advisors in relation to economic regulation and technical, legal and financial and commercial issues. The terms of reference for the Panel are attached.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will provide advice on pricing and competition issues and deliver a written report to the Panel. Further detail on the role of the ACCC will be set out in the Request for Proposals (RFP).
The Panel will receive submissions from industry and the public to assist in the development of the RFP documentation. Submissions will be received until 30 March 2008.
The new network is expected to:
- deliver speeds of at least 12 megabits per second;
- use fibre-to-the-node or fibre-to-the premises architecture;
- be available to 98 per cent of Australian homes and businesses;
- have uniform wholesale pricing that offers consumers real value for money; and
- provide open access to wholesale broadband services on transparent, equivalent and genuinely pro-competitive terms and conditions.
“The Australian Government is moving quickly to fulfil its election commitment to support the roll-out of a new national high-speed fibre broadband network, by investing up to $4.7 billion,” Senator Conroy said.
“The Government will be inviting submissions from interested parties on the appropriate policy and regulatory framework for the future.”
“The competitive assessment process will be open and transparent, with opportunities for industry and community input,” Senator Conroy said.
The Government will also ensure that people who may not have access to the new fibre network will have access to the best new fixed line, wireless or satellite technology.
The Rudd Government believes that all Australians are entitled to access first class broadband – no matter where they live or work.
“Today I am pleased to announce that more Australians in remote communities will receive metro-comparable broadband with the Government announcing an additional $95 million for the Australian Broadband Guarantee program in 2008-09,” Senator Conroy said.
“At the same time as it issues the request for proposals, the Government will also call for comments on policy and funding initiatives to improve access to affordable broadband in these remote areas into the future.”
The Minister for Education is progressing the Government's complementary Fibre Connections to the Schools initiative. As a first step, this process will involve an audit of broadband access in all Australian secondary schools.
“These great nation-building broadband initiatives of the Government will progress together in a co-ordinated way” Senator Conroy said.
“The announcements made today clearly demonstrate the Government's commitment to breaking down the digital divide and securing Australia's broadband future. This investment by the Government will accelerate our transition to a digital economy and ensure that Australia is well placed to be part of the exciting world of the future.”
11 March 2008
Contact: Tim Marshall - 0408 258 457
Patricia Scott was appointed Secretary of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on 7 May 2007 and is the current Secretary of the new Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
Ms Scott joined the Australian Public Service in 1990 and her career has included both policy and program experience. Previous roles include Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), Deputy Secretary in the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, and First Assistant Secretary of Economic Division in PM&C.
Before joining the APS, Ms Scott was an economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia. Ms Scott has a Bachelor of Economics from the Australian National University and a Master of Economics from Macquarie University.
Mr John Wylie
John Wylie is CEO of Lazard Carnegie Wylie. He was a co-founder and principal of independent investment bank, Carnegie, Wylie & Company, a leading corporate advisory firm. He has worked in the investment banking industry for more than twenty years in Australia, New York and London, and was previously Head of Investment Banking at Credit Suisse First Boston in Australia. He is also Chairman of the Melbourne Cricket Ground Trust, a Board Member and Treasurer of the Howard Florey Institute, and a member of the Business Advisory Forum of the Saïd Business School in Oxford.
Tony Mitchell is a major shareholder in and has been the major driver of Allphones, one of Australia's largest independent communications retailers, since its purchase in 1999. From 1999 to 2003, Tony was the Chief Executive Officer of Allphones and oversaw its national expansion. Since 2003, Tony has been Chairman of the Allphones Board and has steered the business to its current position today, where Allphones operates over 165 stores across Australia. Tony has worked in and around telecommunications for over 40 years, in various capacities. In addition to his chairmanship of Allphones, Tony is a director of Allied Telesys International, one of Asia's oldest and most successful telecommunications equipment vendors.
Professor Rod Tucker
Rod Tucker is a Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. He is Research Director of the Australian Research Council Special Research Centre for Ultra-Broadband Information Networks ( CUBIN ), in the University of Melbourne's Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
Professor Tucker has held positions at the University of Queensland, the University of California, Berkeley, Cornell University, Plessey Research, AT&T Bell Laboratories, Hewlett Packard Laboratories and Agilent Technologies.
He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and a Fellow of the IEEE. He received BE and PhD degrees from the University of Melbourne, in 1969 and 1975, respectively, and in 1997 he was awarded the Australia Prize for his contributions to telecommunications.
Professor Reg Coutts
Reg Coutts is the owner and director of Coutts Communications and is Professor Emeritus in Communications at the University of Adelaide. From 1993 until 2003, Professor Coutts was Professor of Telecommunications at the University of Adelaide, where he built the industry-sponsored Centre for Telecommunications Information Networking. He previously had seventeen years experience with Telstra in roles that included research and business management.
Professor Coutts completed his BSc, BE (Hons) and PhD at the University of Adelaide. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Engineers, a Senior Member of the American Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society.
Tony Shaw PSM
Mr Shaw is a consultant, specialising in advice on regulatory and competition issues. Mr Shaw has 35 years experience in public policy research, development, implementation and administration. Since 1987 he has played a leading role in the formulation of Australian telecommunications and broadcasting policies.
Mr Shaw led the team that developed the principles for telecommunications policy and regulation for a competitive environment and subsequently managed preparation of the current Australian telecommunications legislation. He also participated in developing the policies in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 , the Telecommunications Act 1991 and the Telecommunications Act 1989.
From 1997 to 2003 Mr Shaw was Chairman and CEO of the Australian Communications Authority. He was also an Associate Commissioner of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission during this period.
Mr Shaw has wide experience as an applied economist, having worked for a total of 13 years in the Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics, the Bureau of Industry Economics and the Bureau of Transport Economics.
Dr Ken Henry AC
Dr Henry was appointed Secretary to the Treasury on 27 April 2001 and was reappointed for a further 5 years from 27 April 2006. He is an ex-officio member of the Board of Taxation, member of the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Alternate Governor (for Australia) of the International Monetary Fund and Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Australian Office of Financial Management.
From February 1980 to September 1984 he was a lecturer in the economics department of the University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand), where he completed his PhD in 1982. In September 1984 he returned to Australia, accepting a position in Treasury's Taxation Policy Division.
From September 1986 to June 1991, Dr Henry worked as a senior adviser to the Treasurer. In June 1991 he returned to the Treasury, becoming head of the Microeconomic Modelling Unit. In July 1992 he took up the position of Minister (Economic and Financial Affairs) in the Australian Delegation to the OECD in Paris. Dr Henry returned to the Treasury in January 1994 and worked in a number of roles before his appointment to Secretary.
Dr Henry was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia General Division (AC) in the Australia Day Honours 2007. He has a first class honours degree in economics from the University of NSW.
National Broadband Network Panel of Experts
Terms of Reference
The National Broadband Network Panel of Experts (‘the Panel') has been appointed by the Australian Government to assess proposals for the National Broadband Network (‘the Network').
The Network is a major policy initiative of the Australian Government. The Government has committed to offer funding of up to $4.7 billion and to consider necessary regulatory change to facilitate the roll-out of a high-speed broadband network offering at least 12 megabits per second to 98 percent of Australian homes and businesses within five years of commencement.
The Government has overall responsibility for the assessment process and will issue a Request for Proposals and respond to requests for information about the process and requests for clarification from potential proponents.
The Panel will bring a wide range of expertise to the assessment of proposals.
The Panel will be consulted on the Request for Proposals.
- will assess the proposals according to the process and evaluation criteria set out in the Request for Proposals;
- may conduct negotiations with proponents about their proposals consistent with the Request for Proposals; and
- will provide a report to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (‘the Minister') with recommendations on preferred proponent(s).
At the same time as it issues the Request for Proposals, the Government will invite proponents, industry and public interest groups to make submissions on regulatory issues associated with a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network, including consumer safeguards. The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (‘the Department') will provide the Panel with the submissions and the Panel may have regard to the submissions in its assessment process to the extent that submissions are relevant to the assessment of proposals and are within the scope of the Request for Proposals.
The Panel will consider the advice provided by the Department and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about proposals, as well as advice provided by other relevant Government Departments and agencies and specialist advisers contracted to provide advice on economic regulatory, technical, investment, financial and commercial issues and legal advice. The Panel's considerations will be its own.
The assessment process will be conducted in a fair and ethical manner. The Panel will operate under an approved Probity Plan and will have regard to advice provided by a Probity Adviser appointed by the Department.
The Panel will provide its report to the Minister within eight weeks of the receipt of proposals.
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy