NBN to take back seat in lead up to Tasmanian election

Tasmania’s political leaders have begun the battle for votes ahead of the State’s election on many fronts, but not over the National Broadband Network (NBN) currently being rolled out across the island state.

Political commentator Professor Richard Herr from the University of Tasmania, said the State’s economy and the pulp mill site on the Tamar River are major issues expected be addressed by Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett.

“What the NBN has done, in particular the fact that the Federal Government named Tasmania to be the roll-out state, is taken what could have been a political liability and neutralised it,” Herr said.

The Tasmanian NBN rollout was officially announced in July last year. The project involves the construction of a seven kilometre fibre optic transmission link between Aurora Energy's Cambridge Data Centre and Midway Point.

Work officially commenced in September, with the first cables being laid in five-year-old foundations.

Herr said the unused foundations could have been an embarrassment for Bartlett, had construction not already started.

“I’m sure that the [Bartlett] Government will use it as a positive as much as it can, but since it’s not something the [other political parties] are likely to oppose it’s not going to be seen as a vote changer,” Herr said.

Digital Tasmania spokesperson Andrew Connor said although the NBN may not rate highly in the lead up to the election, Tasmanians are keeping a close eye on its development.

“The NBN is a big ticket item that people are expecting to see results from here in Tasmania,” Connor said.

There have been calls for the State’s Premier to help build the ICT industry and leverage the NBN by taking on a new ministerial role in ICT.

Bartlett has previously touted the NBN rollout to about 200,000 Tasmanian premises will make the state “the most connected place on the planet by 2014”.

Last week, the Tasmanian Government announced it will make major investments in the state’s ICT capabilities as part of a new $6 billion 10-year Infrastructure Strategy initiative.

The Tasmanian election will be held on March 20.


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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