Wednesday, 26 October 2011 19:10

Lib Fletcher disputes accusation of getting NBN Co salary figures wrong - UPDATED


Liberal MP and National Broadband Network critic Paul Fletcher has been accused of publishing incorrect and dramatically inflated average salary figures for the staff of NBN Co, the company responsible for administering the NBN. However, Mr Fletcher has contacted iTWire and stands by his findings.


Note that the information supplied to us by NBN Co detailed below is not correct. Mr Fletcher actually calculated the employee count by taking the end of June 2010 number of 207, adding the end of June 2011 number of 855 and dividing by two, to get the head count of 531. He did not simply use an end of June 2010 number of 531 as the NBN Co spokesman claimed (see additional information below).

After an earlier article published as a result of a release from the office of Mr Fletcher, NBN Co contacted iTWire and claimed that Mr Fletcher's calculations that the average salary of NBN Co staff was $224,000 were way off the mark because he had calculated them using incorrect data.

NBN Co head of communications, Andrew Sholl, told iTWire that Mr Fletcher had in fact divided the organisation's 2010/2011 staff costs by the 2009/2010 head count.

"Our 2009/2010 head count was 531 (the figure Mr Fletcher used) but that number rose considerably in the 2010/2011 financial year to 855," said Mr Sholl.

"If you use the 2010/2011 figures, the correct average staff cost is $139,000 which includes superannuation and training. What's more, as the company grows staff costs will go down."

However, Mr Fletcher contacted iTWire today and stated that his figures were based on standard industry methodology.

"The standard methodology is taking the headcount at the end of one year and adding the headcount at the end of the next year and averaging it," Mr Fletcher said.

"In addition, this is the same methodology I used to calculate the salary figures for the other companies quoted in my release."

It should be noted, however, that using this methodology on a mature company with tens of of thousands of employees does not necessarily equate to using the same methodology on a nascent company that more than quadrupled its workforce in a sngle year.

Mr Sholl also countered the comparisons Mr Fletcher made between NBN Co staff costs with other major companies, including the dominant telco Telstra, which, according to Mr Fletcher's figures has an average staff cost of $101,000.

"He talks about Telstra's average salary of $101,000 but in that you have to include retail staff, maintenance staff, call centres and so on," said Mr Sholl.

"Unfortunately I suppose, we can't put all of our construction workers on the (NBN Co) books because all of that is outsourced. However, our average staff costs will go down because like all start ups we're building the company from the top down, and later we'll hire middle managers and other (lower end) workers."

Mr Fletcher told iTWire that he intends to issue a further media release on this matter today.

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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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