Tassie NBN rollout “dead in the water”: Turnbull


Dead fish

news Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has described the National Broadband Network rollout in Tasmania as being “dead in the water”, with no progress in the state having been made “for month”, in the context of calls from activists in the state for the Fibre to the Premises rollout promised under Labor to be completed.

Last week, technology lobby group Digital Tasmania pointed out that during the Federal Election campaign, then-Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull had appeared to confirm the NBN’s previous fibre to the premises model would be fully deployed in Tasmania, as the state was already covered by existing construction contracts which Turnbull had pledged to honour. At the time, Labor had claimed the Coalition’s preferred fibre to the node deployment model would see some Tasmanians receive inferior broadband to the FTTP model used by Labor.

Last week, as Communications Minister, Turnbull issued a revised Statement of Expectations letter to NBN Co, ordering the company to continue existing construction only where build instructions had been issued to delivery partners, but not explicitly confirming the fate of the Tasmanian rollout.

Digital Tasmania, an activist group which lobbies for the development of technology infrastructure and industry in the state, issued a statement saying that despite Turnbull’s statements during the election, there was no mention of Tasmania in the Communications Minister’s announcement last week, “leaving the rollout in a state of limbo”. Digital Tasmania spokesperson Andrew Connor said: “The Coalition government has failed to confirm their pre-election commitment that the NBN rollout in Tasmania would continue as planned”.

In a new interview with ABC local radio in Hobart this week, Turnbull said with regard to Tasmanian NBN contractor Visionstream: “As far as we can see no work has been done by Visionstream for at least two months and they’ve basically downed tools … “It’s been dead in the water as far as progress is concerned in Tasmania for months.” However, the ABC subsequently reported, with regard to Turnbull’s comments:

“Mr Turnbull’s claims that no work has taken place in Tasmania in the last two months regarding the rollout of the fibre optic cable was instantly challenged by listeners to ABC Local Radio by text and on Twitter, as reports came in o people seeing Visionstream workers working in Kingston, Launceston and Beaconsfield in the last week.”

David Havyatt, a former senior telecommunications executive and senior advisor to Labor Communications Ministers Stephen Conroy and Anthony Albanese, posted an entry on his blog on Sunday denying the claims that work had stopped in Tasmania.

“This is technically incorrect because the contractor was still at work in areas not affected by the remediation pause, and has restarted work already,” Havyatt wrote. “This is typical Malcolm Turnbull. Rather than directly respond to the fact that he knows he misled Tasmanians he reaches for a distraction with a false claim about current roll-out.”

“For the record – mid election (17 August) the Examiner ran a story under the headline Turnbull confirms NBN will honour contracts. It included the following line: “Tasmanian Senator David Bushby also dismissed Ms Collins by saying the Liberals had costed their policy on Labor’s full Tasmanian roll-out, confirming  it would honour Mr Turnbull’s earlier pledge to fulfil all contracts.”

“Mr Turnbull knew that to be a false statement at the time and did nothing to correct it!”


  1. Renai, perhaps you could verify the claims that NBN work has been going on, in direct conflict with Turnbull’s claims, and then armed with this information, you ask his to make an official comment.

    Otherwise you need to modify the title to something which reflect his little (or big) fib/lie

    • Well I know I’m just a faceless internet guy, but as a Hobartian I can confirm that at least some NBN work is being carried out. Saw Visionstream workers in South Hobart this morning.

      That’s not say its been smooth sailing with Visionstream here though. There have been multiple payment issues that have caused workers to halt (and in extreme cases – walk off the job altogether) and of course there were big delays surrounding the safe asbestos removal from Telstra pits.

      The uncertainty hanging over the NBN here is driving people crazy. Particularly people like me that are in a contracted area where work hasn’t officially commenced. Of course Turnbull neglected to mention the “where work has commenced” proviso before the election. Funny that!

      • “The uncertainty hanging over the NBN here is driving people crazy. Particularly people like me that are in a contracted area where work hasn’t officially commenced. Of course Turnbull neglected to mention the “where work has commenced” proviso before the election. Funny that!”

        It’s not just Tasmania … it’s the whole country ;)

        • True :( Maybe we’re especially feeling the pain, because the NBN is so essential to helping grow Tasmania’s ailing economy. Plus everyone knows somebody who has the NBN down here, which ups the jealousy factor.

          I’m also guessing that a lot of people were naively under the impression that the NBN was safe in Hobart, even if they voted Liberal, based on comments made by Digital Tasmania and Turnbull before the election.

          • I’d be ticked off if they went back on a promise prior to the election (like the seem to have with Tassie).

            But then I’m still waiting for Malcolm to make good on his “transparent and honest” promise too…

          • Sorry – that was poor wording on my part Andrew. Didn’t mean that to sound like Digital Tas was at fault at all. On the contrary – when ABC first ran the story about Turnbull saying contracts would be honoured, I thought you accurately clarified the situation and uncertainties the whole project faced. However I later spoke to people that misconstrued your comments, and thought that ABC story meant they could vote Liberal, and still be sure they would receive fibre to their home (if contracts were in place in their area).

          • and thought that ABC story meant they could vote Liberal

            Selfish, self-serving, “me, me, me” pricks.

      • I also live in Hobart and have seen Visionstream workers on my street late last week, they weren’t pulling cable sadly, but they were inspecting the pits by the looks of things

  2. s/for month/for months/

    s/as reports came in o people seeing/as reports came in of people seeing/

    s/confirming it/confirming it/

  3. Sigh. If only there were some consequences for politicians who provably and blatantly lie to the public. It’s not like the mainstream media pay any attention to the truth, in their pursuit of ‘the story’.

      • Nice in theory, but if the mainstream media don’t hold these people to account, the bulk of voters won’t have a clue what’s going on, and the three-word slogans will win the day.

  4. I think it would be fair to say a lot of people are starting to see Mr.Turnbull in a different light. The cracks in that swish veneer are getting wider.

    • To be Frank David…

      If the out and out lies (we have a policy/don’t have a policy, $94B FttP, the NBN needs a CBA – but even if the CBA is positive we still won’t support it), wasn’t enough to show MT’s true colours, well nothing was.

      I await the part faithful now chiming in with FoD $5000 (instead of up to) *sigh*, to desperately attempt to vindicate MT’s lies…

    • Actually I think most people who listened to Turnbull for more than five minutes had to, perhaps, question some of the statements.

      The continued need to debase NBNco is so strong, he’s still attempting to destroy it, whilst being the Minister for Internets, no less.

      So much for “quicker, cheaper”. There is a cl*ster-f*ck looming.

  5. Why not give the NBN project in Tasmania a chance to prosper? After all, the project is still in progress, and it is hoped that it will provide positive chances to Tasmanians in the following year. Do not give up and conclude that the NBN is not going to be effective in that area of Australia.why not giving a chance to prosper on this Project of NBN in Tasmania? The project are still in progress. Hope to see an effect in people’s life for another year. Don’t just set a mindset of concluding that NBN is not really effective in that area.

  6. Try looking from their perspctive, they know that with their ideological obsessions and lppk after their mates history, the private sector will absolutely cream the high value low cost sectots, TPTG is leading the pack at theis time, but plenty of other fibre providers with paid for fibre to business and commercial premises can follow suit very cheaply with very low ongoing Opex costs, such as Primus, AAPT etc.
    Potentially GIMPCp will only have lower value, high provision and maintenance/opex cost. Especially Rural and Regional. Tassie will be high cost/Opex with relatively low ROI.
    GIMPCo will be a major cost to the Taxpayer, must cut costs especially opex

  7. I keep coming back to Abbott’s “destroy the NBN” decree. Regardless of any written policy, Turnbull is steadfastly executing the action to remove NBNco’s reason for being.

    It’s the unwritten-policy gift that just keeps on giving.

    Coalition isn’t ready to govern – they’re still enacting opposition rhetoric rather than getting on with the job.

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