Fibre to the curb

THE problematic rollout of the NBN continued in characteristically bumpy fashion this week, with contractors allegedly killing a mature tree at the corner of Central Ave and East Street in Bayswater.

Cr Catherine Ehrhardt has reported it to the city, calling it “absolutely disgraceful”.

She says a passerby was told by workers a “truck backed into it”, but she notes the tree doesn’t look like it has any impact marks, and doesn’t seem to be missing any bark, sparking her suspicions that it might’ve just been in the way.

While it’s just one tree, the council has been fighting tooth and nail to retain and increase its threadbare canopy cover in the past couple of years after it was rated one of the least leafy suburbs in WA in a 2015 study.

• Wow, good work NBNCo contractors. Photo by Catherine Ehrhardt

Complaint

We contacted the contractor, Downer Group, and asked what happened with the tree: they forwarded our query on to their press handler, and the internal email subject line was “FW: another NBN complaint to send on please”.

Rebecca Papillo, NBN Co spokesperson says: “We can confirm that unfortunately one of our contractors accidentally caused a tree to fall over while reversing their vehicle.

“We apologise for the damage caused and any inconvenience to neighbouring properties. In its place we will be planting two mature WA Red Flowering Gums.”

Previous NBN complaints we’ve heard have included flyers advising residents of upcoming construction weeks after it had actually started, workers showing up with power tools at 5.45am on a weekend, and furious residents finding out they’re getting a big green tombstone-looking node box installed outside their heritage houses without consultation.

Cr Ehrhardt says she was told by workers they had council approval to start working on her verge—but they didn’t.

“They shut up when I said ‘actually, I’m a councillor’.”

She says she later had workers trespass on her property to dig a trench on her side of the fence line.

She says they’re tearing up the suburbs to install a dud technology.

“I’d characterise the NBN full stop as an absolute joke and anyone with half a brain would’ve known it was an outdated technology and by the time it was rolled out it would be out of date.”

Even with an NBN node right outside her house, she has no plans to connect to the NBN—”I’m going wireless.”

by DAVID BELL

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