Communications Minister Macolm Turnbull has revealed concerns about Visionstream’s progress on the NBN in Tasmania.
“As far as we can see no work has been done by VisionStream for at least two months and they have basically downed tools,” Mr Turnbull said.
The Minister suggested that work has been stopped in Tasmania for several months. “And at this stage, VisionStream is just not building anything. And there is a serious problem there which we have got to address. So I’m not suggesting we would dishonour or breach any contracts but at the moment nothing is being done under the contract by the contractor.”
“We have only just appointed a new chairman of NBN Co and we are undertaking a strategic review so we can find out exactly what the situation is at the moment, why is in the mess that it is where it is in the mess, and what we can do about it.”
Mr Turnbull says the government will honour the existing contract with Visionstream, as long as Visionstream fulfils their contractual obligations.
“Where there is a binding contract, for example with VisionStream, if VisionStream were to do its part of the contract then we would do ours which is obviously to pay them for the work they’re doing, in accordance with the contract. But at this stage there is no work going on and that doesn’t, I struggle to see how that can be in compliance with the terms of the contract.”
In response, Visionstream has released a statement declaring that the Minister’s allegations are untrue and that it is continuing to roll out the national broadband network across Tasmania as planned.
“Visionstream has not stopped work and continues to roll out the national broadband network across Tasmania,” the statement reads.
“Visionstream is currently undertaking construction of Fibre Servicing Area Modules (FSAM) in Launceston, a large amount of aerial cabling across the State, and is issuing tenders for new construction civil works as work packages are released by NBN.
Current work volumes are limited by asbestos related work delays, however, Visionstream is working with NBNCo and Telstra to commence construction of works as it is released.
In Tasmania, Visionstream has always maintained about 200 local staff on the ground in two offices, plus a variable contract workforce to deal with the flow of construction work and has successfully delivered on the number of premises passed above our contracted minimum for these packages.”
This comes after the government recently released an interim Statement of Expectations to the NBN Co and announced changes to the board and a strategic review of its activities.