NBN Delays: Now A Union Wants To Stop Work On The Rollout Completely

Julia Gillard at an NBN rollout announcement in 2010. Getty / Lisa Maree Williams

The rollout of Australia’s National Broadband Network is now in a mounting crisis over asbestos risks at construction sites.

The Australian reports this morning that one of Australia’s largest unions wants construction work halted on the NBN, one of the ALP’s flagship projects — and, along with the national disability insurance scheme, one of its only popular ones.

The company responsible for the rollout, NBN Co, has already flagged a significant delay to the project, revising its target of delivery to around 200,000 properties instead of the 341,000 it had aimed for.

According to The Oz, the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union has written to workplace relations minister Bill Shorten calling for a stop to all work on the pits until the risk to public health can be assessed.

“We immediately call on Telstra and NBN Co to cease all pit and pipe remediation work associated with the NBN rollout,” CEPU national secretary Peter Tighe said in the letter.

The Oz also says that NBN Co is progressing with work in so-called “brownfield” sites, which are in older suburbs and present more of an asbestos risk than those in newly-built areas.

Telstra meanwhile has stopped its work on NBN pits and has called in PricewaterhouseCoopers to provide advice on the matter. Chief executive David Thodey said yesterday the company was not facing any material financial risk from the issue.

More at The Australian.

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