Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has gone on the attack against claims that the new Coalition government has stalled the rollout of the fibre-to-the-premises National Broadband Network (NBN), stating that the network will pass more premises with fibre by the end of June 2014 than have been passed to date.
The minister has faced criticism from Labor over a perceived slowdown in construction efforts on the NBN since the Coalition took government in September, with the network only passing 2,000 premises for the month of September.
NBN Co and Turnbull blamed the slowdown on pit and duct remediation work kicking off again after the asbestos issues earlier this year, and on difficulty with Tasmanian construction partner Visionstream, which is now asking for more funding to complete its existing contract.
Today, Turnbull and the NBN Co executive chair visited the Western Sydney suburb of Blacktown to prove that the NBN is still rolling out. In a video posted to Turnbull's YouTube page, the minister said that double the premises will be passed by fibre by the end of June than are currently passed today.
"NBN Co is proceeding; 12,000 premises were passed last week. We have issued design instructions for more premises, twice as many premises to be passed by June 30 next year as NBN Co has been passed to date," he said.
"So the proposition that the NBN rollout has been stopped or slowed is simply not correct."
According to stats released by NBN Co this week, the network has so far passed 304,840 premises by fibre, with 232,017 of those able to order a service.
Turnbull's office clarified that the NBN will have passed 450,000 brownfields premised by the end of June. The NBN has currently passed 237,324 brownfields premises, with 164,501 able to order a service.
The company today also appeared briefly in the New South Wales Supreme Court for a directions hearing into the case brought against it by Telstra over claims that NBN Co has wrongly valued the AU$11 billion deal. The hearing lasted for just one minute, with Justice David Hammerschlag setting another hearing for the case on December 13.