COMMUNICATIONS Minister Malcolm Turnbull has laid the blame for the troubled Tasmanian NBN rollout at the feet of Labor and Visionstream, with its future to be decided in his 60-day review.
Breaking his silence to discuss the issue on ABC radio yesterday, Mr Turnbull didn't stray far from an earlier election promise.
"What we've said is that we will honour existing contracts ... but it takes two to tango," Mr Turnbull said.
The viability of those contracts has been tested by a slowdown in work, which seems likely to affect the new government's policy.
"Nine out of 10 Tasmanians don't have access to the NBN ... and at this stage Visionstream is not building anything," Mr Turnbull said.
NBN Co figures reveal that just 19,500 homes have been connected by Visionstream from their contract to hook approximately 200,000 homes with fibre to the home.
And with just 40 "boots on the ground" reported at the end of August, down from 240 in June, it seems that number isn't set to jump any time soon.
Mr Turnbull hopes to have a review completed by early December.
"Tasmanians were basically misled by the Labor Party. They were told that they had this great NBN coming to them, that the dreadful coalition would stop it. The project has been stuck," he said.
Premier Lara Giddings had a phone meeting with Mr Turnbull on the matter yesterday, with Ms Giddings saying "we had a constructive discussion in which I reinforced the importance of continuing the full rollout of optic fibre to the home".
Visionstream did not return The Examiner's calls yesterday, with TasICT chief executive Dean Winter calling for an update from the company charged with the rollout.
"We've got an interstate company who have won the right to deliver the most important infrastructure project of this generation, but who seem totally disengaged with the Tasmanian community," Mr Winter said.
"There needs to be a definitive, detailed public statement made about the company's progress and their ability to complete the $300 million contract they signed last year."
Mr Turnbull suggested Visionstream's own problems - which include asbestos remediation works and subcontractor payments - could result in Tasmania's rollout being redrawn.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @benmackey