24 Nov 2010
The Australian government has won a critical victory in its battle to win passage of legislation to bill to separate Telstra and advance its NBN project.
The Senate agreed today advance the bill to a second reading after the government promised to set up a parliamentary committee to oversee the project.
Key independent Senator Nick Xenophon, who voted for the project after striking a deal with the Labor government, revealed that without the cooperation of Telstra the project would cost at least another A$5.5 billion ($5.4b).
Xenophon was given documents containing crucial details of the project last night, and said he had been promised a briefing by NBN Co. chief Mike Quigley.
Xenophon had been refusing to support the legislation unless the government reveals the details of the NBN business plan, which the government isn't planning to release until next month. But the government has now agreed to release a summary of the business plan early, he said.
The legislation would allow for the structural separation of Telstra's retail wing from the rest of the company.