NBN plan sends 75% of contracts overseas

The National Broadband Network (NBN) project will use Australian manufacturers, technology suppliers and construction services for only a little under a quarter of its content needs, an independent report claims.

The Australian released an analysis this morning, claiming that of $7.4 billion worth of business, local manufacturers and construction companies are likely to receive only $1.75 billion, with the rest being outsourced to overseas vendors.

This report comes only days after Julia Gillard pledged her support for local content mandates, making it necessary for companies working on projects with at least $20 million worth of government funding to list all their suppliers.

The strategy was designed to encourage big mining and resources players to give their manufacturing contracts to Australian companies as much as possible.

Gillard announced the plan at last Thursday’s Future Jobs Forum in Canberra, which was a gathering of union representatives, manufacturing business-owners and government members, all committed to planning to ensure the longevity of Australia’s manufacturing industry.

"The Gillard government is telling the mining industry to buy Australian because our manufacturing industry is dying, but when it comes to the nation’s biggest and most expensive infrastructure project in our history, the government is not prepared to support local industry," Openetworks managing director Michael Sparksman said – quoted by The Australian.

"We’re basically being told that the Australian workforce and manufacturing industry is not good enough for NBN Co even though it is presently entirely funded by the taxpayers. The message is that overseas companies can do all the smart manufacturing and services and all Australian workers can do is dig holes and lay cables."

Read The Australian’s full report here, complete with a list of lodcal and outsourced companies signed-up for contracts.