The Australian Labor Party says it will honour existing contracts for the construction and (presumably) maintenance of the NBN if it wins government in July. But it is also promising “more fibre” in the network should it take office.
Speaking at a Broadband in the Bush forum in Brisbane on 9 June, Regional Communications Shadow Minister Stephen Jones told the audience that there were “key contracts” in place that “have been written and must be honoured”.
While no further details were given, it can be safely assumed these contracts include the Definitive Agreements with Telstra (revised in December 2014) which involved the transfer of Telstra HFC and copper assets to nbn as well as the agreement with Optus to allow the acquisition of its HFC network.
They may also include the $1.6 billion contract with Telstra, signed in April, to design and project manage the upgrade of the Telstra HFC network and further contracts with both Telstra and other nbn partner companies for other design, construction and maintenance functions.
It remains to be seen how much room there may be to recast these agreements to accommodate Labor’s fibre plans and how any renegotiation of existing contracts may affect CWU members engaged in work covered by them.
But Jones was no doubt right to warn that, should Labor win in July, “the nbn will not be able to be turned around overnight.”
Jones said that Labor’s full policy for the NBN and the communications industry more broadly will be released “very, very soon”.