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Trying to make sense of the confused, and confusing, Mr Clare.

28th July 2014  |  Comments  |  Blog

In Parliament today I said that the NBN Co had met, indeed surpassed, its target for total (ie brown and greenfield) premises passed with fibre as at June 30. I said the target had been 467,000 but in fact by June 30 the NBN Co had passed 492,000 premises.*

Mr Clare claims this evening that in November last year I had said 450,000 premises would be passed with fibre by 30 June and in fact only 381,146 premises were passed by that date.

As usual Mr Clare is confused and confusing.

The specific target he is referring to is the NBN rollout ‘brownfields FTTP’ target for June 2014 – that is, the number of households and businesses in established towns and suburbs the NBN fibre network would pass by that date.  Mr Clare claims the “target” set by the current Government was 450,000.

That is untrue. The Government has not set rollout targets for the NBN Co. The only targets set by the Company  since the election to date have been in the Strategic Review published in December and it is those targets to which I was referring in the House today.

Following the election there was considerable uncertainty about the state of the rollout – one of the reasons why the Strategic Review was required.  In his reference to the figure of 450,000 I assume he is referring to a speech I gave on 18 November 2013 at a Commsday event in which I said:

As the Strategic Review delves further into the current state of the rollout, we are slowly getting a better handle on what NBN Co really was capable of achieving under the outgoing management, and how we need to bolster its capabilities.

Shortly before the election, the NBN Co revised its June 30 2014 premises passed target down to 600,000 brownfield premises, about half what had been estimated in August the previous year.

However it appears that even that estimate was unduly optimistic and it is likely that when new, realistic and genuinely achievable targets are set they will be materially lower – around 450,000.

It is quite clear that I was not making a forecast, let alone setting a target but rather giving an update on what was at the time the best, but nonetheless clearly changing, information from NBN Co.

The matter of forecast targets was however settled on 12 December 2013 when the NBN Co produced its Strategic Review which advised that the Company’s best, considered, forecast of the brownfield FTTP rollout by June 2014 was 357,000. As noted above the actual number of brownfield premises passed with fibre as at June 30 2014 was 381,000 which when added to the 111,000 greenfield premises passed comes to the figure of 492,000 which I mentioned in the House today.

Throughout the period from August 2012 to the election in September 2013, the Australian Labor Party insisted that the NBN brownfields FTTP figure for June 2014 would be 1.1 million.

Yet in fact they knew that that Company itself had downgraded that forecast, first to 850,000 premises in May/June, then to 600,000 in August. These revisions were not disclosed to the public.

The Coalition Government has been upfront at all times with the state of the NBN Co fibre to the premises rollout; this stands in marked distinction to Labor which was only concerned with getting fibre to the press release.

* To be precise the target (set in out in the 12 December 2013 Strategic Review at page 46) was 357,000 brownfield and 110,000 greenfield - total of 467,000. The 30 June actual figures were 381,000 brownfield and 111,000 greenfield - total of 492,000

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