Tasmanian government won't pay SubPartners for cable connection

The state government has refused to pay US$15 million and connect an intercontinental marine cable from Sydney to Hobart.

The Tasmanian Government had been in discussions with SubPartners to connect a spur from Tasmania to a cable running between Perth and Sydney.

But on Friday morning the chief executive of Superloop, which acquired SubPartners in April, said no discussions were ongoing. 

Bevan Slattery said SubPartners have had discussions “over the years” with the Tasmania Government, but “had not been able to come to an agreement”. 

“There are no ongoing discussions between SubPartners and the Tasmanian Government,” he added.

That comment prompted a rebuttal by Minister for Technology and Innovation Michael Ferguson.

“Mr Slattery’s comments are very surprising given that discussions have been taking place as late as last evening with the consortium members and there have also been discussions with the Commonwealth Government to seek assistance to facilitate these opportunities for Tasmania,” he said. 

“Unfortunately, the only option put forward by SubPartners was a separate cable from Sydney to Hobart with no direct connection to the Indigo cable.”

SubPartners proposed to own the cable and asked the state government for a U.S $15 million contribution.

But the Tasmanian Government would not have any rights or capacity in that link.

“Given these facts, the Tasmanian Government is not in a position to agree to the changed, inadequate proposal,” Mr Ferguson said. 

“The Tasmanian Government remains willing to continue discussions with SubPartners and other Consortium members about a spur to Tasmania.”

TasICT, the region’s peak technology body, said a solution was “critical to Tasmania’s future”.

“It is about future proofing the connectivity of the island and bringing the backhaul costs down,” he said.

“We call on SubPartners to continue conversations with the government.”