Will more NBN delays affect you?
Patrick Lion – National Political Reporter
News Limited Network
March 22, 20138:32PM
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THE Federal Government is refusing to say which areas will suffer under the latest delays to the National Broadband Network.
The silence came as Stephen Conroy’s future as Communications Minister was questioned by the Opposition after a disastrous week for two key policy areas of his portfolio.
Shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull lashed Mr Conroy for incompetence over media reforms, as well as more delays for the multibillion-dollar National Broadband Network.
Mr Conroy’s office declined to comment on the Coalition attacks.
Amid the drama of Thursday’s Labor leadership turmoil, the NBN admitted only a maximum of 220,000 premises would be passed by June, not the 341,000 forecast.
NBN blamed construction contractors for the delay.
A department spokeswoman said while she couldn’t name affected areas, information would be updated on the website in coming weeks.
“This is a 12-week delay in a decade-long national infrastructure project, and we now expect to achieve the 341,000 target by the end of September,” the spokeswoman said.
“We still expect to deliver the total project by June 2021.”
The delays came after Mr Conroy failed to win support for his media reforms – criticised for restricting freedom of speech and regulating the press – forcing Prime Minister Julia Gillard into an unsuccessful intervention to win crossbench support.
The laws were eventually pulled from a vote on Wednesday.
Mr Turnbull said Mr Conroy’s pursuit of media reforms had undermined Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s authority in a way Kevin Rudd could only dream.
The latest hiccups come after the Government’s problems with other key policies overseen by Mr Conroy including the abandoned controversial internet filter and the botched Australia Network tender.
“Stephen Conroy’s remaining Communications Minister shows that competence is not a relevant consideration for being included in the Gillard Cabinet. Loyalty to the boss and her factional backers is the only qualification,” he said.
“This past fortnight has been an unmitigated disaster for the senator from Victoria.”