NBN rollout: City of Ballarat faces millions in damages | Photos

The City of Ballarat will face a $13 million bill for 6500 instances of infrastructure damage left by the National Broadband Network rollout.

Council staff revealed the huge bill to a federal parliament NBN joint standing committee on Tuesday morning.

NBN Co paid $99,600 in 2015 to compensate council for infrastructure damage.

Another $53,000 was promised within two weeks of the first payment to cover the repair costs.

However council staff estimated the true cost of reinstating infrastructure to its original state to be at least $13 million, and potentially up to $40 million.

Council infrastructure and environment director Terry Demeo said government legislation did not hold telecos to the same standard as water, gas or electricity companies.

“Water boards, Powercor and other parties are obliged to get a road opening permit from council when they want to install a piece of infrastructure.

“We are able to condition those permits to ensure the reinstatement of property is within our standards.”

Victorian senator Jane Hume visited Ballarat to investigate reinstatement works last week.

Council was then invited to make to appear before the NBN joint standing committee in Canberra.

Mr Demeo said many of the 6500 instances of damage had been fixed to some degree, but not to the standard set by council.

“There are 6000 plus that we believe remain unsatisfactory,” he said.

“The scale of the NBN has caused the issue, the physical rollout of the fibre and the tie-ins into individual properties.

“We are continuing to work with the NBN – it is not about beating up on the NBN – it is about evidence, about Ballarat’s experience as an early adopter of the network.”

An NBN Co spokesperson said the company had complied with all legislation.

“NBN has already taken action with its delivery partners in Ballarat to address prior concerns related to the construction program and continues to discuss the matter with council,” the spokesperson said.

“NBN is confident that any new concerns that may arise are being addressed as soon as they are notified.”

Damage to council and private property during Ballarat’s NBN rollout has been an ongoing issue for four years.

A resident had his fence damaged by NBN workers in 2013.

A Redan resident said his property was covered in concrete following works in the same year.

Mr Demeo said council had taken the opportunity to make federal politicians aware of the challenges facing the city because of the rollout.

“We took that up to make sure this committee, which has pre-eminent senators and House of Representative MPs, to make them aware there are some challenges,” he said.

“These are very nuts and bolts issues around the NBN rollout.”