United pledge on NBN Aurora fix

THE Tasmanian Liberals are continuing to distance themselves from their federal colleagues over the NBN, as all three parties pledged to provide free access to Aurora Energy power poles to continue the rollout of fibre to the home in Tasmania.

Premier Lara Giddings announced yesterday Aurora would forego revenue of about $25 million over 20 years, if the federal Coalition government adopted her proposal to deliver fibre to the premises over power lines instead of underground pits. 

The Liberal Party and Greens were quick to back the decision to provide free access yesterday.

The future of the NBN rollout is dominating the election campaign after NBNCo last week revealed that some Tasmanian residences and businesses would be connected to fast broadband using existing copper network, not fibre as originally planned. 

Liberal leader Will Hodgman was caught on camera yesterday before a press conference telling Liberal colleague Jacquie Petrusma: ``This could cost us the election. Anyway that's democracy.'' 

However, political commentator Richard Ecclestone said the gaffe may do more to help, than hinder, his election chances. 

Dr Ecclestone said voters found it refreshing to hear what politicians really thought and the comment highlighted that the NBN was a federal issue.

``This might actually play into Will Hodgman's hands,'' Dr Ecclestone said. ``Labor's strategy has been trying to somehow implicate the state Liberals and hold them accountable for the about-face or lack of commitment from the federal government.

 ``Hodgman's private remarks clearly indicate he's not supportive of what his federal colleagues are doing.'' 

TasICT executive director Dean Winter described Mr Hodgman's aside as ``brutally honest''. 

``It's a massive issue in the community. Should the NBN be front and centre of the state election campaign though? Probably not. It's not a state issue,'' Mr Winter said.  

Ms Giddings said Mr Hodgman's delayed support for the state government's proposal to deliver the NBN over Aurora's power lines was not good enough. 

``Last year the Liberals described our idea as a thought bubble and Will Hodgman has admitted that he is only supporting it now because he is scared about losing votes,'' Ms Giddings said. 

Denison Liberal MHA Matthew Groom said his party was working with the federal government and regularly talking to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. 

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