NBN committee delayed by missing KPIs

NBN committee delayed by missing KPIs

Summary: The joint committee investigating the roll-out of the Federal Government's National Broadband Network (NBN) project was forced to cut off a hearing early last night, after NBN Co failed to deliver a progress report to the committee on time.


The joint committee investigating the roll-out of the Federal Government's National Broadband Network (NBN) project was forced to cut off a hearing early last night, after NBN Co failed to deliver a progress report to the committee on time.

The Department of Broadband's deputy secretary of infrastructure, Daryl Quinlivan, told the committee that the company was unable to provide details of its progress against key performance indicators, saying that a report has not been finalised, but was "very close".

The committee's chairman, independent MP Rob Oakeshott, said that the committee would officially record its disappointment that the deadline was slipping away, although Labor Senator Doug Cameron distanced himself from the statement.

"It's unhelpful by not providing that information tonight. And if we can get that information as a committee as soon as possible, as close to mid-September as agreed, that would be helpful, at the least," Oakeshott said.

Quigley said that the company will make its report available to the government first, which will then pass it on to the committee.

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull later questioned the chief executive as to why NBN Co was seeking permission from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to be able to raise prices on most NBN packages if necessary, with the maximum increase to be equal to the consumer price index plus 5 per cent.

Quigley responded by saying that Turnbull's line of questioning was "too simplistic a view of the complex process the ACCC and ourselves are going through".

"To say that we can set whatever prices we like is simply not factual."

Turnbull said that Quigley was not answering the question.

"You are treating this committee with contempt," he said.

Quigley denied that he was being contemptuous.

Senator Cameron intervened by telling Turnbull that he was making "a ham-fisted job" of questioning Quigley, and to stop attacking him.

"You cannot just make assertions against Mr Quigley," Cameron interjected.

Turnbull compared NBN Co's plans to that of the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) roll-out in New Zealand, pointing out that the NZ plans were scheduled to decrease in price over time.

Quigley said that the NBN plans were also expected to go down in cost over time, and pointed out that the base plan for the Australian NBN cost $24 per month, lower than $38 per month, as was the lowest plan price in New Zealand.

The NBN would have a faster return on investment if NBN Co sets its prices higher, Quigley noted.

"The business case would be much simpler for us if we set it at $38," he said.

The committee agreed to cut short the public hearing, and to meet again with representatives of NBN Co and the department on 11 October.

Topics: Government, Broadband, Government AU, NBN


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • A slight but important correction. Quigley didn't say he "would" deliver the report to the Department, he said NBN Co had already delivered it to them, on 19th August. In other words, it's not NBN Co that have missed the deadline, but the department.
  • Does anyone seroiusly believe that the NBN will be delivered within budget?
    No business case analysis, constant pricing variations, employees & contactors at high pay rates, and now Conroy and Wong doing a bit of a Master Chef on the books.
    The NBN will be a repeat of the home insulation and BRER projects. Good intentions but completely stufffed by the incompetence of the ministers charged with delivering the project.
    I hope I am wrong but looks like a $50 billion plus stuff up.
    Bert Mill
    • Sorry Bert, but the business case has been analysed (by Greenhill-Caliburn), who found the assumptions therein to be reasonable.

      There have been no "constant pricing variations". The NBN's contracts to date have been signed on-budget. So far they have signed on-budget contracts for fibre, hardware, equipment, wireless spectrum, nationwide wireless rollout, interim satellite, nationwide greenfield rollout and brownfield rollouts in NSW, ACT, QLD, VIC and WA.

      They are currently ahead of the number of brownfield connections predicted in the business case, and slightly behind on the greenfields, although there will be at least 6 new estates turned on this month, pretty much bringing them back up do date.

      The wholesale pricing has not changed with the exception of a (prudent) CVC discount until each POI reaches critical mass, which occurred after negotiations with ISPs. Surely you can't think making changes in response to customer feedback is a bad thing?

      Don't believe everything you read from News Ltd...
      • "Don't believe everything you read from News Ltd..."

        I believe that comment was a copy/paste job from The Australian. You can safely disregard anything Bert has to say.
        Hubert Cumberdale
      • Would that be the report where they only released the executive summary, not the full report?
        As for the pricing, why are they asking for annual increases of 5%?
        If you look at telco / ISP prices over the past 10 years they are trending down and that is without the benefit of billions in taxpayer capital.
        Agree that you should not believe everything you read in News Ltd.
        Also believe that you should not ignore the fact that as NBN is Australia's largest infrastructure project it has received far less analysis that it deserves.
        If the CEO of BHP said he was going to spend $20 to $40 billion on a project that he thought was a good idea and didn't think it was necessary to do a cost benefit analysis, do you seriously think he would continue to have the support of the board and shareholders?
        Bert Mill
    • hey bert, as one who dislikes politicians generally, here's one from left of field and the who would ever have thunk it files... suggesting the nbn and australia is actually in good hands.

  • As a seasoned bureaucrat, I can't tell you the number of reports I've had held up because of missing KPIs, KRDs and all the alphabet soup of management-ese...

    Someone in a Parliamentary Committee saying "Sorry, but we haven't got all the numbers in yet - just waiting for the last figures to get checked" sounds just like a great many meetings I've attended. Please check your conspiracy theories at the door... they won't be needed here.
    • Could not agree more, and as with most SE committees which are 99% of the time useless grandstanding theatres for jackass pollies (heres looking at the increasingly desperate Mal and the in this case idiotic 'lets sell it back to the private sector' Rob) the mob can now disperse to go back to what they normally do. Not a lot of anything, really...