Thursday, 18 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts. Given Australia is ranked 61st in the world for fixed-line broadband, the cost of the NBN has blown out from $29 billion to $57 billion and up to 238,000 premises still can't access minimum NBN speeds as required by law, how on earth were NBN Co executives, management and staff given $78 million in taxpayer funded bonuses? How much would they have been paid if the NBN wasn't over budget and behind schedule?
I thank the shadow minister for her question, which goes to the remuneration arrangements at the government business enterprise set up by Labor—
Mr Brian Mitchell interjecting—
to employ executives from the private sector. It was set up by Labor with a plan, at the time, to connect to 12 million premises around the country. When they left government, barely 51,000 premises were connected to the fixed-line network. It is certainly true that there were no bonuses paid when Labor was in government. I'll tell you why: it's because the performance was so hopeless. They fell so far short of their targets. They were short by 40 per cent, 50 per cent, 60 per cent. I'll tell you something else: the base salary of the chief executive employed by Labor was 18 per cent higher in real terms than the base salary of the current chief executive.
Let's talk about performance! Let's talk about how vital it was that people had reliable broadband they were able to connect to when this nation was hit by COVID and millions of people moved to working and studying from home overnight. That was absolutely vital to our nation. When traffic levels rose by 70 per cent during the day, the NBN kept going. The NBN is now able to connect to almost 12 million premises, and almost eight million premises are connected. We're getting on with the job of delivering the NBN. We inherited a chaotic train wreck of a project. We've turned it around. We've got on with delivering it. Please ask me more questions about the NBN, because I'm happy to keep talking about it all day.
Just before I call the member for Warringah, members on both sides, the level of interjections is too high. I give this warning at about this time every Thursday, I think. Don't be surprised if you're ejected for interjecting. The member for Warringah.