LIBERAL leader Will Hodgman has conceded privately to colleagues that a federal government backflip on the NBN rollout in Tasmania could cost him the election.
Mr Hodgman was caught on camera by the ABC before a press conference in Hobart yesterday, telling Franklin Liberal colleague Jacquie Petrusma: ``This could cost us the election. Anyway that's democracy.''
Later in Launceston, alongside federal colleague Assistant Employment Minister Luke Hartsuyker, Mr Hodgman played down his earlier comment, saying: ``I don't believe it will cost us the election . . .
``There are a number of issues that could cost any party the election.''
The Liberals appear to be on the back foot over the NBN, after NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski admitted last week that only Tasmanians who received the super fast broadband connection by the end of this year - about 30 per cent of homes and businesses - were guaranteed of fibre to the premises connection.
The remaining 135,000 homes and businesses would be covered by a fibre-to-the-node network, with a mixture of new fibre or existing copper or Telstra wires making the final connection.
During the federal election, the Coalition pledged to honour existing NBN contracts in the state.
Mr Hodgman said the state Liberal Party had always been strong supporters of fibre to the premises and that was still the case.
He said he would work with federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to deliver the right outcomes for the state.
``We recognise how serious it is, we want to see it delivered as quickly as possible and as affordable as possible,'' Mr Hodgman said.
``I'll also work constructively with the federal government - they're on the same page, we are singing from the same hymn sheet.''
Speaking from Leslie Street in South Launceston yesterday, alongside federal opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese, Premier Lara Giddings said the decision to use the existing copper network would mean streets would be left divided.
She said Leslie Street had literally been cut in half, with half the street already connected to super fast fibre to the door, while the other half had been told it would have to make do with last-century's copper wire.
``It's just not good enough,'' Ms Giddings said.
She said it was too late and ``quite extraordinary'' for Mr Hodgman to say he would do what he could to ensure all Tasmanians got fibre to the premises. ``Why didn't he meet with Ziggy Switkowski last week when the chair of NBN was in Tasmania?,'' Ms Giddings said.