A parliamentary inquiry has criticised the waste of more than $1 million in taxpayers' money by the Gillard government in its botched tender for Australia's television service into Asia.
The Australia Network saga last year saw public broadcaster the ABC pitted against rival station Sky News, part-owned by News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch, in a contest over a $223 million contract to run the service.
An Auditor-General report in March found the episode had raised doubts over the government's ability to run a fair tender after Sky News was over-ruled as the winner and the Australia Network handed permanently to the ABC.
A parliamentary inquiry into the report by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit released today criticised the ''substantial'' costs of terminating the tender, "both in dollar terms and in reputational terms".
The tender became embroiled in Labor's leadership battle between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former foreign minister Kevin Rudd.
Tensions over the prospect of a private media company with links to Mr Murdoch running Australia's official public diplomacy channel with reach into more than 40 countries also fuelled controversy - especially following the phone hacking scandal that last year engulfed News Corporation tabloids in Britain.
Despite a cabinet decision to put the rights to run Australia Network out to tender - with Mr Rudd nominating his departmental chief to decide the winner - the government later changed the rules and rejected the findings of an independent panel that twice recommended Sky News be awarded the contract.
Approval for the tender was then shifted to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, despite the risk of a perceived conflict of interest as his department has responsibility for the ABC.
Senator Conroy later terminated the tender blaming media leaks - including to The Age - but only after it was again recommended Sky News run the service.
The committee said "it was unfortunate" the government took nearly five months from the time it called for tenders to a final decision being reached between ministers and departments about who would approve the outcome.
"Disagreement about the approver, and the amendments to the tender that resulted from it, contributed to lengthy delays in the process, which, as the Auditor-General noted in his evidence, increased the risk of the process being compromised," the committee found.
The committee also raised concern that government agencies had not ''well received'' the findings of the auditor's report.
The committee recommend lessons from the episode include the need to make clear decision makers, ensure better handling of confidential information, and full disclosure of criteria for decisions.
"Public disclosure of the approval process at the outset of a tender process would reduce the risk of uncertainty even further," the committee found.