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Published 08 August 2013 10:06, Updated 09 August 2013 08:52
The NBN is one of the key election policy battlegrounds between Labor and the Coalition. Photo: Glenn Hunt
Labor’s centrepiece infrastructure project, the national broadband network, will miss its June 2014 rollout target by more than a quarter of a million homes, as construction delays and problems with subcontractors continue.
Leaked internal forecasts seen by The Australian Financial Review indicate NBN Co now expects to have 855,935 existing homes and businesses ready to connect to the fibre network by June 2014. This is 273,065 fewer than the company forecast it would reach in the latest corporate plan, released in August last year.
NBN Co revealed last month it had reached 163,500 homes and businesses with fibre at the end of June 2013. This was 57 per cent fewer than it had forecast in its corporate plan.
The shortfall comes despite a last-minute rush by NBN Co to sign new contracts worth $580 million with Leighton Holdings-owned Silcar, and Downer EDI before the government business enterprise went into caretaker mode on Monday in the lead-up to the federal election on September 7.
The NBN is one of the key election policy battlegrounds between Labor and the Coalition, which has promised to deliver a cheaper but slower alternative.
The latest construction deals will not affect NBN Co’s ability to reach the June 2014 targets because it takes 12 months on average to make premises ready for the NBN.
In total, the 2012 Corporate Plan projected 1.13 million existing homes and businesses across the nation would be able to order an NBN fibre service by June 30, 2014.
This figure is also likely to include a large proportion of apartment buildings and shopping arcades that cannot immediately order an internet service even though they are counted as “passed” by NBN Co.
Much of the delay has been blamed on contractors’ inability to retain subcontractors, or hire skilled labour, as a result of poor rates or lack of construction work.