- Communications minister Michelle Rowland already intervened in the ongoing saga of the Special Access Undertaking of the NBN.
- According to her, the network operator should start again with its proposed variation.
- However, in parallel, the communications minister also told the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that it would be a “failure for all involved” if a positive outcome is not reached.
Communications minister Michelle Rowland already intervened in the ongoing saga of the Special Access Undertaking of the NBN. According to her, the network operator should start again with its proposed variation. However, in parallel, the communications minister also told the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that it would be a “failure for all involved” if a positive outcome is not reached.
Rowland said NBN’s proposed variation was “underpinned by unrealistic revenue expectations, and reflected a view to privatisation.”
Finance minister Katie Gallagher co-signed a letter telling NBN Co that the government’s position was to stick with the SAU process but withdraw the currently proposed variation.
Kate McKenzie, Rowland and Gallagher wrote in a letter addressed to the NBN chair: “Since the election, the Prime Minister has emphasised that the government is committed to collaborative decision-making about the issues that impact the lives of Australians. Reflecting that commitment and the change of government which has created space for problem-solving, our preference is that all parties continue with the SAU variation process because this offers the best prospect of an outcome that serves the long-term interests of consumers, which is the priority of the government."
The letter continued: “In our view, the objective should be for the process to secure an outcome as soon as possible, with the aim for this to occur by early 2023. This would allow NBN Co the time to develop new systems and prepare to implement a varied SAU on 1 July 2023. It will also provide certainty for industry about NBN pricing and other matters.”
“The government has stated that it will retain NBN Co in public ownership for the foreseeable future, expand full-fibre access to more homes and businesses, and ensure the NBN delivers for consumers and facilitates productivity. We expect to issue a revised Statement of Expectations to NBN Co that reflects these objectives and will also work with NBN Co through the Corporate Plan process to settle a realistic expectation about future returns to shareholders. This would allow space for a reset in the process, and for NBN Co and the ACCC to work positively towards a new SAU variation.”
“We understand that any variation to the SAU will need to have some regard to the past. However, we encourage NBN Co to develop a proposal that reflects a reset in the process and looks forward to the necessary and appropriate returns to support the business. This could mean historical concepts such as the Initial Cost Recovery Account could be changed or reconsidered to facilitate a focus on a forward-looking regulatory model for the business,” said the ministers.