As NBN’s rollout ends, jobs bust begins

Following a 10 year rollout, this week (30 June) marked the scheduled end of construction on the National Broadband Network (NBN).

In reality, there are still several thousands of homes that remain unconnected. Those aside, construction is more or less complete.

While opinions vary on whether the NBN has hit its mark, there is no doubt the project’s completion will have negative impact on Australian jobs at the worst possible time.

As illustrated in the next charts, the NBN’s┬áconstruction provided a key pillar of support to the Australian economy as the private sector teetered on recession:

At the peak of its build-out, the NBN contributed roughly 0.5% of Australia’s final demand growth and about half of the nation’s major projects pipeline:

Accordingly, the completion of the NBN’s rollout will detract from both construction jobs and Australia’s economic growth.

The timing could not be worse, with residential construction – especially high-rise – also collapsing:


There were just under 1.2 million Australians employed in construction in May, accounting for a record 9.6% of jobs:

The construction sector, and by extension Australia, should brace for heavy job losses as NBN workers are retrenched and the apartment market collapses.

Leith van Onselen


  1. Investment opportunity for SCOMO … new funds to extend FTTN to FTTH. As you say its not like we dont need the jobs … and WFH has shown value of the network. Building out the fibre makes it more scaleable. Especially for Zoom etc meetings … video conferencing needs a solid network.

    • Pfh007.MEMBER

      They might convert some homes, where FTTN is not performing, from FTTN to FTTC but that is about it.

      FTTC is much easier to deploy as it does not require access to the residence and it can deliver oodles of bandwidth.

  2. Jumping jack flash

    And this is precisely the reason why infrastructure projects are not really a good thing to provide long term and ongoing economic support by the government. Rather they are just to look flashy and generate a lot of attention.

    After the thing is built, the jobs end. But more importantly, and maybe this wasn’t the case with the NBN i dont know yet (compared to my old ADSL1.5 i had before the NBN I’m still saving money), but we end up spending more as a result of using the infrastructure. Usually this is the result of gouging, whether it be tickets to see an event at a stadium, using a toll road, bridge, tunnel, etc, or the NBN.

    I received a letter from my NBN provider saying my bill was going up. Why? I switched providers. I actually saved money compared to my original bill. Quality is adequate so far.

    • Doesn’t scarcity economics demand constant development of MOAR thing so there can be MOAR and MOAR thing? Because reasons…
      I too saved money on my connection but promptly spent it and more on streaming video subscriptions….Because I’m hooked and I needs ma stories.

  3. In other news, MissileMaker intends to stimulate defense industry jobs and provide security for the nation with state of the art inter-suburban missile bases and weapons targeting unemployed protestors to be built by the a consortium of Chinese/Russian/USA contractors with Australians to specifically design the stickers on the packing crates ensuring a job for an Australian….or at least a temporary visa holder

  4. with so many empty houses they could build exchanges and data centres in every street … that would help property market and wealth effect

  5. The irony is NBN was partially a response to earlier crisis requiring govt infra investment. As was the ‘asset recycling initiative’ to get State govts to sell assets to give them cash to build toll roads. Every layer of Govt has been involved in a multi billion can kicking exercise which allows the ponzi to continue.

    Sooner or later we must take our medicine and sustainably restructure the economy.