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Rudd Government's Tasmanian Broadband Deception.



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Thu, 16th July 2009

RUDD GOVERNMENT'S TASMANIAN BROADBAND DECEPTION Senator the Hon Nick Minchin Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s desperate suggestions that Tasmania’s broadband roll out would start this month have been today exposed as pure deception Shadow Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Nick Minchin said.

Instead of announcing an actual project start date Senator Conroy has merely confirmed the release of a tender for the supply of fibre optic cable and little else.

The Minister vaguely says physical roll out will begin “shortly”, with the first stage to deliver “wholesale-only, open access” broadband services in the second quarter of 2010.

“This confirms that the Rudd Government will have been in office almost three years without having delivered a single new broadband connection under its failed NBN Mark I policy or its $43 billion NBN Mark II proposal,” Senator Minchin said.

“Incredibly, the National Broadband Network company has also been fitted up as a joint owner of this network along with Aurora, before a board has even been appointed.

“If this project is not commercially viable, as many suspect, the NBN company and ultimately Australian taxpayers, will have a millstone around its neck from day one and will be forced to subsidise its operation on an ongoing basis,” Senator Minchin said.

Despite speculation that the Tasmanian roll out will cost around $500-700 million, there remains no clarity about the project’s funding arrangements, other than vague references to an initial equity injection.

“It was also confirmed that unsightly aerial cable would be deployed across Tasmania under the roll out plan, connected to homes whether people want it or not, in direct competition to existing service providers, with existing customer bases,” Senator Minchin said.

“At the same time Senator Conroy has cancelled the Coalition’s OPEL project which would have delivered new affordable broadband services across rural and regional Australia, including Tasmania this year.”

Today’s ‘announcement’ was to also ‘celebrate’ the long overdue commercialisation of the Basslink cable, which has laid dormant for several years because of the State Labor Government’s incompetence.

“The Tasmanian broadband project has all the look of a cynical political exercise designed to mask Labor’s total mishandling of broadband policy,” Senator Minchin said.

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