Contractors dig in over NBN halt

UP to 60 Tasmanian contractors promised four to six years' work on the underground rollout of superfast broadband will demand compensation if they are not given work.

About 20 contractors rallied in Hobart yesterday, bringing specialised trench-digging machines that were now sitting idle.

Brighton-based contractor Andrew Bullock believed they were entitled to compensation after investing millions of dollars in equipment and training, before work dried up after just seven months.

Mr Bullock said contractors had used guarantees of at least four years' work to secure bank loans. "You can't get people to invest millions and then leave them high and dry," Mr Bullock said.

He considered the federal government's decision to only deliver fibre to the node a broken election promise and predicted the state Liberals would pay for it.

"I think it'll cost them the state election."

Matthew Burns, of Statewide Earthworks, said he was up for $15,000 a month in repayments on the unused machinery. "I can assure you I'm not going to lie down on this," Mr Burns said.

Greens leader Nick McKim released more details on his plan for the state to take over the project. The Greens want to invest $3.4 million to set up a state-owned business to roll out the NBN.

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