Claims by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull that Visionstream had stopped work on the construction of the fibre-to-the-premises portion of the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Tasmania were inaccurate, according to Visionstream.
Turnbull yesterday accused the NBN construction partner of stopping work in Tasmania, and questioned whether the company would be able to reach all 200,000 premises to be passed by fibre in the state by 2015.
"As far as we can see, no work has been done by Visionstream for at least two months. And they've basically downed tools," he said.
"The last figures we saw from NBN Co showed that less than 20,000 premises had been passed with fibre in Tasmania, and so that's less than 10 percent of the total rollout, so obviously completing it by 2015 looks pretty optimistic."
But Visionstream fired back today, stating that work is continuing across the state.
"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," a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.
The spokesperson indicated that work had slowed on the project due to issues related to the Telstra asbestos controversy with the pit and duct remediation, but Visionstream said it is continuing to take up work when it is available.
"Current work volumes are limited by asbestos-related work delays; however, Visionstream is working with NBN Co and Telstra to commence construction of works as it is released," the spokesperson said, rejecting speculation that the company had cut the number of staff working on the project.
"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."