Wednesday, 15 August 2018 09:42

Labor claims NBN revenue forecasts designed to make govt look good Featured

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Labor claims NBN revenue forecasts designed to make govt look good Supplied

The Australian Labor Party claims that the 2017-18 revenue target set by the NBN Co, the company rolling out Australia's national broadband network, the NBN, has been deliberately set low in order that the government could have a public relations coup.

The NBN Co is due to announce its results for the full year on Thursday.

Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland claimed on Wednesday that the the NBN Co revenue forecasts had been "designed with one thing in mind: spin".

She said serious questions remained about the revenue target that had been outlined in the 2018 NBN Corporate Plan, questioning whether it was set low "in order to spin a public relations coup for the Turnbull Government upon release of the full year NBN financial results this Thursday".

"Despite the nationwide HFC halt that led to NBN missing their activations target by 0.4 million premises, NBN Co is somehow still expected to exceed its $1.9 billion revenue target for 2017-18 in the 2018 Corporate Plan," Rowland pointed out.

NBN Co announced on 27 November last year that households and businesses would have to wait between six and nine months longer for connections while the company fixed technical issues affecting the speed that the network could deliver.

nbn stats labor

Data source: Commissioned Parliamentary Library calculation of activations from data in NBN weekly reports and 2018 NBN Corporate Plan forecasts.

Rowland said NBN Co had argued "this counter-intuitive result" came about due to strong activations over the first half of 2017-18.

"Yet an analysis of this period indicates the average activations rate over the first half was 5% behind forecasts, and that activations in the second half were 35% behind forecasts," she said, citing a Parliamentary Library calculation based on activations from data in NBN Co weekly reports and 2018 NBN Co corporate plan forecasts.

She added that, additionally, a review of the third-quarter results "indicated it would have been possible for NBN Co to halt the HFC rollout in November 2017, then halt the entire NBN rollout on 31 March, and still be on track to exceed the 2017-18 revenue target of $1.9 billion!"

Rowland claimed that given this, it would be nearly impossible to miss the revenue target set by NBN Co for 2017-18.

"Senior executive bonuses are linked to reaching this target. In 2016-17, NBN Co paid out $66 million in bonuses," she said.

"The Turnbull Government needs to explain whether the target was set low to create potential for self-congratulatory spin upon release of the full-year results on Thursday. This isn’t the first time the Liberals have tried to spin their second-rate NBN, and it won’t be the last."

iTWire has contacted Communications Minister Mitch Fifield's office for the government's take on these Labor claims.

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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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