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Monday, February 18, 2008

New winds in the corridors of power?

This could be just a straw in the wind, or a decision to provide access to documents that turn on the particular facts and circumstances. Then again, it might indicate a new approach by the Rudd Government. In a case involving the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and Telstra, the parties reached agreement last week to provide Telstra access to documents about the award of a $958million contract to one of its competitors. The documents requested include communications with OPEL, advice from any probity or process adviser and the assessment of the Telstra and OPEL tenders.

The contract with OPEL was awarded by the former communications minister Helen Coonan. Telstra sought preliminary discovery of the documents to enable it to form a judgment about contesting the decision, given the fact that published guidelines for the tender, stipulated that the amount available under any contract would be $600million.

Those of us looking for hopeful signs would have also been encouraged by the decision yesterday of the Prime Minister to release emails between himself and the infamous Brian Burke in 2005.

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