This was first published in The Mercury on 6 August 2014.

LATE last year new federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull released his promised strategic review into the NBN rollout.

It provided no certainty to Tasmanian businesses or consumers and Mr Turnbull still hasn’t outlined what the future is for Tasmania’s NBN.

That is in stark contrast to what Tasmanians were told before the federal election.

At an April 2013 lunch, Mr Turnbull – then the shadow communications and broadband minister – addressed about 100 members of Tasmania’s ICT industry. It was attended by leading Liberal Party members and federal election candidates.

At that event, Mr Turnbull made a very important election commitment to honour existing NBN contracts in Tasmania.

It was a promise unique to Tasmania. First, he was honouring all contracts, not just where construction had commenced. Second, NBNco had already announced it had signed a $300 million contract with Visionstream to complete the fibre to the premises (FttP) rollout across the state. No other state was so far progressed.

That meant Mr Turnbull was effectively promising Tasmanians they would get the same NBN, irrespective of who they voted for at the federal election.

That promise was reaffirmed on August 23 when Tasmanian Liberal Senator David Bushby said: “If contracts are in place for the full fibre rollout, there will be no difference in who gets fibre to their home in Tasmania under Labor or Liberal.”

With these reassurances, the NBN issue that had plagued the Coalition in Tasmania at the 2010 federal election was successfully defused and it fared significantly better at the 2013 election.

A state swing of 9.39 per cent and even bigger swings in Bass (10.78 per cent), Braddon (10.04 per cent) and Lyons (13.51 per cent) can be – at least in part – attributed to the resolved NBN issue.

It may even have been the difference between winning and losing one of the three seats the party won.

In December 2013 Tasmanians were given further hope that the NBN could still be delivered in a reasonable time frame as the Tasmanian NBN contractor, Visionstream, announced a new agreement with NBNco that would “accelerate” the rollout.

Unfortunately, it was left to NBNco chairman Ziggy Switkowski to come to the state and tell Tasmanians they would get a fibre technology mix of fibre to the premises they were promised and the inferior fibre to the node (FttN) technology they were promised they wouldn’t get.

Mr Turnbull hasn’t been back to Tasmania since April 2013. In radio interviews, he alleged Visionstream’s unwillingness to complete the project for the price originally agreed to as the main reason for not sticking to his commitment.

Yet, despite the allegations of Visionstream’s poor performance, it was announced on May 20 this year that Visionstream would have its contract extended in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.

Visionstream, to the frustration of many, rarely communicates. We have no idea what issues they are facing and NBNco isn’t much better.

In August last year, the NBN rollout was stalled by asbestos issues and contractual disputes. In August this year, NBNco’s own statistics show that not only has the project slowed to a crawl again, it actually passed minus 10 premises between May 18 and June 30.

What’s worse is that there is no explanation as to what issues are causing such inexcusable results. No communication from Visionstream, no word from NBNco and absolutely nothing out of Mr Turnbull.

Just as frustratingly, the process to connect Tasmanians to the NBN is failing.

We continue to hear horror stories about businesses and households which simply want to connect to the NBN that has been rolled past their premises, but can’t. It continues to take months to connect the customers to the NBN.

In many cases, issues like missed appointments, technical problems and complete disorganisation between NBNco and its contractors cause significant delays.

Tasmania was promised the NBN would bring a whole range of economic opportunities to the state, not just by being rolled out, but by being rolled out here first.

Not only is the NBN being rolled out at a rate that won’t see the project completed for another 16 years, it’s also being delivered much slower than in other states. Our promised first mover advantage is gone.

Tasmanians have been let down by successive federal governments. The project ground to a halt under the previous federal Labor Government and the new federal Coalition Government has not even attempted to deliver what it promised.

Mr Turnbull should come to Tasmania, outline what the issues are and outline a plan to resolve them.

He may not have created this mess, but it is his responsibility to fix it.