NBN ‘Pork Barrelling’ in Tas, Warns Industry Chief

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Tasmanian business figure is baying for blood as NBN takeup hits just 13 percent there.
 

Troy Harper, chairman of Tasmania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is not a happy camper and has hit out at the broadband network, which is currently on a trial run in the state, claiming it is a political move and a classic example of “pork-barrelling.”

Harper claims the NBN should have gone to the cities like Hobart and Launceston first, where the take-up rate would have been greatest.

He also used the opportunity to lash out at the previous Tasmanian premier, David Bartlett, branding the NBN trial as “the worst betrayal a state has seen in terms of a performance from a political leader.”

“We’ve had some bad examples of pork-barrelling, but these would be some of the worst,” he said at the weekend, referring to the rollout in the Tasmanian hamlets of Smithton, Scottsdale and Midway Point.

Smithton and Scottsdale, both small towns with less than 2000 inhabitants were revealed as marginal seats in last year’s federal election and the NBN rollout was seen as a major swing factor towards Labour, according to The Australian.

However, it seems Bartlett had little to do with the decision to rollout in the island state, with a spokesperson for the Tasmainan government claiming “It was the NBN Co, not the Tasmanian government, that chose the three initial rollout towns.”

 

And it seems a test run was easier in a small town than a large city, as problems could be easier to be identified over a small geographical area.

However,  in spite of this latest rebuke aimed at the $36bn broadband installation, the office of the Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, who is in charge of the project, rejected the attack. 

“The NBN will deliver this, and the government is getting on with rolling it out,” a spokesperson said.

And despite the critics who are branding the Tasmanian pilot as a failure, the test is far from complete, say the the NBN Co: “It’s not an end point” and take-up is approaching 15 per cent.

“There are seven more sites that have been named for the next phase, and we hope to be making announcements soon on the start of construction on those.”

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