Despite romping away in the opinion polls, and within striking distance of the highly difficult task of gaining a majority in Tasmania's Hare-Clark elected lower house, Tasmanian Liberal leader Will Hodgman has been overheard saying to a colleague that Malcolm Turnbull's plan to switch the National Broadband Network (NBN) over to a fibre-to-the-node network could cost him the election.
As captured by the ABC, Hodgman told fellow shadow minister Jacquie Petrusma that the issue "could cost us the election; anyway, that's democracy".
Hodgman later said that he NBN is a critical piece of infrastructure for Tasmania, but there are a number of issues that could lose either major political party in the upcoming state election.
Last week, the executive chairman of NBN Co, Dr Ziggy Switkowski, confirmed that Tasmania will not have its fibre-to-the-premises rollout completed, and that existing copper would be used from next year.
"We've now agreed on a multi-technology mode, where we will seek to use existing copper network where we can," he said.
Switkowski labelled arguments that copper is inferior to fibre as "debatable".
"I can appreciate given the way the NBN was originally positioned and the discussion about speeds, but the reality is that using the existing copper network, in this case, will give most people a speed experience vastly in excess of what they can actually use, and under the current plan that's being developed, most Tasmanians will get access to higher speed earlier than would otherwise have been the case," he said.
"I can understand why you would say that [copper is inferior], but the speed experience that you have is really at the speed of the slowest link, and the highest-speed final link to the home, which, if you look only point to point, would be fibre, may not necessarily give you a good indication of what the overall experience would be, depending on where the information is coming from. And particularly in Australia, where so much information comes from offshore, it'll be throttled by the various links in the global networks."
Tasmanians will go to the polls on March 15.