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Contractor talks break down

NEGOTIATIONS between NBN Co and ETSA Utilities on a multimillion-dollar construction contract in South Australia and the Northern Territory have broken down amid claims of overcharging.

NEGOTIATIONS between NBN Co and ETSA Utilities on a multimillion-dollar construction contract in South Australia and the Northern Territory have broken down amid claims of overcharging.

ETSA was NBN Co's construction partner at the Willunga fibre-optic cable test site, a relationship which helped other test-site construction partners win larger contracts.

However, ETSA's bid for a two-year contract to manage construction and install cables in the central states was seen to be too expensive, an NBN Co spokesman said.

"We were unable to reach agreement with ETSA but we remain in negotiations with other construction firms for SA and NT, and we hope to reach a conclusion in coming weeks," he said.

An ETSA spokesman would not confirm that pricing had caused problems. He said simply that the two parties had agreed to end negotiations.

"We got very close but we could not finalise an agreement," he said. "We have a very good relationship, and as an electricity infrastructure provider in South Australia, we anticipate we will probably be doing some further work with [NBN Co] in the future."

NBN Co awarded a $133 million contract earlier this week to Transfield for construction work in Victoria and a $174 million contract to Syntheo, a joint venture between Lend Lease and Service Stream, for similar work in Western Australia.


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