The political football that is the NBN took another pummelling this week with Labor shadow ministers Michelle Rowland and Jim Chalmers taking aim at the government over claims NBN was exceeding targets, labelling them ‘ridiculous’.
In a joint statement, Rowland who is Shadow Minister for Communications, and Chalmers – Shadow Minister for Finance – said the claim that NBN Co was exceeding targets was ‘ridiculous’ and ‘disrespects the intelligence of the Australian public’.
The pair also took potshots at Mitch Fifield and Mathias Cormann saying: “If Mitch Fifield and Mathias Cormann were not sufficiently deluded in backing Peter Dutton for PM, they today made the ridiculous claim that NBN Co was continuing to exceed its targets!”
The outburst follows comments from Fifield and Cormann, in their respective roles as Minister of Communications and Minister of Finance, that NBN was showing strong performance and growth in activations and revenue, with its half yearly results ‘confirm[ing] the company is exceeding its connection and financial targets’.
Labor’s claims are based on targets set in NBN’s first corporate plan, back in 2017, rather than later plans, with Rowland and Chalmers saying ‘It appears the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government is hoping no one notices their NBN ‘targets’ get changed every year because the previous targets have been missed.”
Rowland and Chalmers say NBN is failing to meet the 2017 targets across revenue, ARPU, activations, HFC activations and HFC ready for service.
FY19 revenue, the pair say, was due to reach $3.7 billion, with the company’s $1.3 billion half year result suggesting it may not meet that target.
NBN’s half year report shows 4.6 million premises with an active service over the NBN network and 8.1 million premises ready to connect – up 38 percent on the same time last year.
Rowland and Chalmers also delved back into 2013’s NBN Election policy, noting a coalition promise of a rollout cost of $29.5 billion, while the project’s current forecast is for $50.9 billion in rollout cost. The 2013 NBN Election policy also put completion at 2016, a date that has since been pushed out to 2020.
Meanwhile, Fifield and Cormann, in their joint statement following the release of NBN’s half yearly results, claimed the figures confirmed the company’s ‘solid performance across all metrics and provides further evidence of the benefits of the coalition’s faster, more affordable NBN rollout’
In the six months to 31 December, NBN’s revenue was up 46 percent year on year, to $1.3 billion, supported by an uplift in ARPU to $45.