Tuesday, 20 November 2018 05:37

Labor accuses govt of avoiding 'inconvenient metrics' in NBN Co results Featured

Labor accuses govt of avoiding 'inconvenient metrics' in NBN Co results Courtesy NBN Co

The Australian Labor Party has, predictably, slammed the Federal Government for avoiding any mention of what it calls "inconvenient metrics" in the NBN Co's first-quarter results which were announced on Monday.

In a statement, Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Shadow Finance Minister Jim Chalmers said both Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Finance Minister Matthias Cormann, who were referred to as "infamous backers of Peter Dutton", had given an "out-of-touch assessment of their second-rate NBN".

The results showed that NBN Co had not increased its average revenue per user from the level of $44 for the full-year 2018 and was still continuing to haemorrhage money.

The reference to Dutton was about the support Cormann and Fifield had offered to the home affairs minister when he challenged Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party a few months ago.

The two ministers had said, "Shareholder ministers welcomed the results which confirm the company’s solid performance across all metrics.”

"Of course, we wouldn’t expect either of these two dynamic number crunchers to be drawing any attention to the inconvenient 'metrics' below," Rowland and Chalmers said.

They cited the following as proof of their accusations:

  • "A second-rate network that is $21.4 billion over budget;
  • "A rollout that is four years behind the promised timeline;
  • "A $900 million hit to taxpayers as a result of the bungled HFC rollout;
  • "The inability of NBN Co to secure private debt which required taxpayers to step in with a $19.5 billion loan;
  • "A recent three-year deferral of when NBN Co was due to repay its government loan from 2021 to 2024 that is yet to be reflected in the budget papers;
  • "A 1075% blowout in the copper remediation bill to $640 million;
  • "Average revenue per user that has only increased by $1 in the last two years;
  • "A total of 300,000 premises vanishing off the NBN rollout plan – despite the build cost of the rollout increasing by a further $2.1 billion; and
  • "Small businesses reporting they are losing an average of $9000 when switching to NBN."

Rowland and Chalmers claimed the NBN was in such a mess that even after five years in the job, Cormann was unable to anyone willing to loan NBN Co money on acceptable terms.

"All the while, New Zealand, the US and the UK have reduced the cost of deploying fibre-to-the-premises by between 40% and 50%, they claimed.

"The backers of Peter Dutton should, at least, have the humility to accept their failures and get on with the job of addressing them – rather than trying to spin results that are at odds with the reality of their second-rate NBN."


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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