NBN chief’s salary ‘even worse’ than Australia Post controversy

The NBN board has been asked to justify chief executive Bill Morrow’s hefty salary while the NBN rollout continues to face widespread criticism.

Mr Morrow’s $3.6 million salary is “even worse” than that of Australia Post chief Ahmed Fahour, according to a leading telecommunications industry figure.

The NBN chief’s multi-million-dollar annual remuneration included bonuses which tripled from $483,000 to $1.2 million last year.

Mr Fahour, who resigned last week shortly after the controversy, had justified his exorbitant $5.6 million salary by indicating Australia Post had either met or exceeded all performance indicators, including on-time delivery for letters and parcels.

Internet Association of Australia chairman Tom Berryman said that the NBN, on the other hand, had failed to meet its targets.

“As far as I’m concerned the NBN hasn’t hit any of its goals,” he said.

“It was promised to us years ago and at less cost; surely that constitutes as a failure.

“It’s absolutely outrageous. I wonder how many installers they could employ for $3 million.

“I know quite a few CEOs in the telecommunications and information technology industry earning substantially less – by about one-third – and getting better results.”

Before the last federal election, then-shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull said all premises would have access to the NBN by the end of 2016 at a cost of $29.5 billion.

Now, the NBN rollout is expected to cost between $46-56 billion, with the NBN on target for $49 billion by 2021.

Mr Berryman said the NBN needed to be more transparent.

“The NBN needs to be more public about its targets and to let the public know whether they’re being met,” he told The New Daily.

“Nobody is really able to hold them accountable for their actions. It’s essentially a monopoly. People have no alternative.

“Bill Morrow’s $3 million could certainly go a long way towards increasing the rate by which Australians have access to the NBN.”

Labor senator Sam Dastyari brought Mr Morrow’s salary to the public’s attention on Monday morning when he said that if Prime Minister Turnbull described the former Australia Post chief’s salary as “excessive”, then the same standard should be applied to the NBN and its executives.

“The NBN is becoming a financial black hole and the executives are taking us for a ride,” Mr Dastyari said.

Mr Morrow defended his salary on ABC TV, saying it was not his call to make.

“I presume that the board does its market research to find out what’s fair and what’s tolerable by the public out there, so I leave that decision to them,” Mr Morrow told the ABC.

NBN spokeswoman Philippa Perry said salaries and bonuses were set by the Remuneration Committee of the Board of NBN.

“During the last financial year NBN exceeded its rollout and revenue targets and this obviously influenced the target opportunity for senior executive bonuses,” Ms Perry said.

“As no other project of this size, scale or complexity has been completed before, in either construction or the telco industry, attracting and maintaining high calibre executives is critical to success.

“The remuneration reflects the exceptional performance during the 2016 financial year, exceeding all company targets set for the period and is in-line with other telecommunications executives.”

There are currently 4.1 million premises able to access the NBN and so far 1.8 million that have connected.

Originally published at The New Daily.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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