The chair of the NBN has defended spending millions of dollars on executive bonuses amid a severe economic depression.

NBN Co boss Stephen Rue was paid $3.1 million in the past financial year, including a $1.2 million bonus. Six other NBN senior managers were paid over $1 million last year.

The management team received $2.9 million in personal bonuses - an increase of 40 per cent compared to the year before.

The executives were collectively paid $11.4 million in 2020.

When Labor held the Federal Government, Liberal MP Paul Fletcher compared NBN's salaries to those at the ‘Millionaires’ Factory’ of Macquarie Bank.

Now that he is federal Communications Minister, Mr Fletcher has not commented on the million-dollar wages. His spokesperson says the corporation has been operating in a commercial environment and its pay rates are a matter for the board.

“The COVID pandemic required, as a priority, that NBN continue to provide a resilient network which Australians could trust, not to withhold compensation from those people who have made it work and have justly earned their incentives,” NBN Co chairman Ziggy Switkowski said.

“[The NBN] has performed very well throughout the COVID-19 pandemic when the nation has needed it most.”

NBN Co says employees' salaries are being kept at the same level for 2021 as 2020, except promotions and bonuses tied to achievements of the company and individual performance.