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Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:23

Tassie NBN contractors in huge uproar Featured

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The NBN is facing fresh controversy this time from Tasmanian contractors, who say they have lost millions of dollars after the federal government altered its rollout plans.

Tasmania, like the rest of Australia, was set to receive a fully Fibre-to-the Premise broadband network and was party to a number of contracts between the federal government and contractors who were tasked with rolling out the network.

The state's plans were thrown into disarray however when earlier this month when NBN CEO Ziggy Switkowski announced the rollout would now be a mix of technologies rather than all fibre optic cable as promised, leaving a number of contractors in limbo.

As first reported by The Mercury an "angry group of contractors" drove their machinery into Salamanca today as part of a protest rally to raise awareness about their heavy financial losses, and say they have been affected by delays and have invested in expensive machinery which "may now be of no use."

Organiser Andrew Bullock, from Bullock Civil Contracting told reporters that compensation would likely be sought from the government.

“The same thing happened to the logging industry in Tasmania, and they were supported,” he told The Mercury, explaining that construction industry was facing a similar crisis as out-of-work forestry workers who were awarded compensation last year to help them exit the industry.

About 80,000 Tasmanian premises will now receive FTTP, compared with the 200,000 originally planned in a $300 million contract with Visionstream.

NBN Co is also considering an aerial rollout using Aurora Energy's power poles after a backlash over plans to wind back the fibre rollout, and he company had flagged using the copper network from next year to complete the Tasmanian NBN.

Matthew Burns from Statewide Earthworks told the ABC he has the promise of four years work in writing and is seeking legal advice.

"Basically that letter I received got me the finance for that equipment that I purchased for this project," he said.

"Going overhead, this is going to have an effect on what they've promised us.

"So there needs to be compensation given to us contractors because all we've done is invested in what they promised us."

Comment has been sought from NBN Co and Visionstream.

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