NBN rewards itself
NBN Co has found money for executive bonuses despite a $6.7 billion funding blowout.
Peak funding of the National Broadband Network is now over $57.7 billion, more than $6.7 billion higher than the most recent peak funding limit.
NBN Co had to source money from the private market, including $4.5 billion for installing new fibre to homes and businesses that could not hit higher speeds on older technology.
NBN Co’s chief executive, Stephen Rue, said this week that the remaining $2.2 billion in extra funding was to cover extra costs for rollouts in regional Australia, improvements to the company’s IT systems, and costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company in charge of the NBN offered an additional 40 per cent free broadband capacity to retailers in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at easing the rapid move to working and studying from home.
NBN Co’s offering meant it would not receive the extra revenue from retailers, which would be expected to show up in the form of lower revenue, not higher peak funding requirements.
However, Mr Rue, claimed part of the blowout was due to the extra broadband offer.
“Because of the additional demand for data… we needed to put more capacity in the network so all of that adds up to just over $200 million,” he said.
Despite having to put its hand out for extra funds, NBN Co managed to find the money for significant bonuses for executives.
Official figures show NBN Co’s executives took home $2.91 million in bonuses last year.
The bonuses were awarded because the executive team “significantly overachieved” its targets for connecting homes, signing up new customers, and annual earnings.
The NBN Co board paid 95 per cent of the short-term incentives on offer to its executives.
NBN Co has been accused of writing down its forecasts for revenues as time goes on so that the target is easier to hit.
“I want to know what that does and whether that is done for an ease in achieving executive bonuses,” Labor senator Kimberly Kitching asked in Senate estimates last month.
Mr Rue said revenue is not the only component in determining bonuses.
“Like all short-term incentive plans, they’re based upon that particular year’s performance, and not just the financial performance,” he said.
“In fact, financial performance is a small part of it. It’s more on the customer experience and the completion of the build.”