Plans end for NBN Tassie joint venture

Summary:Some 18 months after it was first proposed, the various parties involved in the stillborn Tasmanian National Broadband Network joint venture with Aurora Energy have walked away from the idea.

Some 18 months after it was first proposed, the various parties involved in the stillborn Tasmanian National Broadband Network joint venture with Aurora Energy have walked away from the idea.

In July 2009 then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that the National Broadband Network would be rolled out in Tasmania through a joint venture between the Federal NBN Company and state-owned Tasmanian utility Aurora Energy, which has been involved in previous broadband initiatives in the Apple Isle.

However, since that time, uncertainty has reigned about whether the joint venture arrangement would actually come to pass, with the Tasmanian division of NBN Co operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of the larger national company and Doug Campbell, the chairman of the Tasmanian arm, stating publicly in December 2009 that the joint venture idea had been ditched.

"At this point in time, it's not operating as a joint venture. They're just acting as our agent," Campbell said of Aurora Energy at the time.

But the issue was still kicking around in October this year, when Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said he was to meet with Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett to discuss the issue. At the time, Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher said the joint venture talks were "hastening very slowly".

Today, the office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy issued a statement on the matter, confirming an iTWire report that the Federal and State governments had decided not to pursue a joint venture arrangement in Tasmania after all.

"NBN Tasmania and Aurora Energy have built a strong working relationship and Aurora Energy has entered a commercial arrangement to continue its role as agent, for NBN Co, in Stage 2 of the roll-out," the statement said. "All parties are strongly committed to the successful roll-out of the NBN in Tasmania."

"Work is progressing well on the roll-out of the NBN in Tasmania. NBN Co continues to connect homes and businesses in the Stage 1 communities of Smithton, Scottsdale and Midway Point, while design and planning work is well underway in the Stage 2 regions," the statement added. "Consultation with local councils is already underway and [construction] is expected to begin next year."

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government : AU, NBN

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