Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Shadow Finance Minister Jim Chalmers said in a joint statement that there was a serious question over whether Communications Minister Mitch Fifield could continue in the portfolio.
NBN Co announced its corporate plan 2019-2022 on Friday. The rollout is scheduled to be completed in 2020, but issues with both HFC and fixed wireless have led to missing some financial targets.
The company is also unlikely to achieve its targeted $52 in average revenue per user even by FY22.
- A $2.1 billion cost blowout for the NBN;
- Rollout delays to 1.3 million homes over the next twelve months;
- A total of $700 million in lost revenue as a result of the HFC rollout halt;
- A $500 million increase in the cost to deploy HFC; and
- The copper footprint would expand by a further 100,000 premises.
Rowland and Chalmers said: "The scale of these failures raises serious questions over [Finance Minister] Mathias Cormann’s judgment and whether Mitch Fifield should continue in the Communications portfolio at all.
"Since taking over the portfolio, ...Fifield has not taken his responsibilities seriously, which at key junctures has bordered on wilful ignorance.
"Fifield’s HFC debacle must be subject to forensic examination given the shareholder governance failures at play.
They said the Liberals’ "NBN failures" would have significant consequences, including:
- Consumers were paying more for less;
- Taxpayers and the federal budget were more exposed;
- NBN Co had less revenue to fund future upgrades; and
- The broken long-term economics are placing pressure on NBN Co to increase prices in unfair ways.
"The unfair price hikes were on full display when NBN Co attempted to charge regional fixed-wireless users $20 more per month than city users on the same speed," Rowland and Chalmers said."This is nothing short of a shambles and it is clear the NBN cannot afford another three years of this incompetent and divided government."
Rowland acknowledged the efforts of outgoing chief executive Bill Morrow who did not figure in Friday's corporate plan announcement, with Stephen Rue doing the honours.
"There are few leadership roles in this country as testing as NBN Co CEO," Rowland said. "Over the past four years, Bill Morrow dedicated his skill and energy to the project in pursuit of a broader good.
"Morrow didn’t shy away from Parliamentary scrutiny, and was refreshingly forthright in his approach to discussing issues facing the rollout.
"Whilst this candour would sometimes result in sharp criticism from Labor, it must be acknowledged the CEO was willing, at key junctures, to explain problems for what they were."
She said despite all the political debate, the underlying mission of the NBN had always been about equality of opportunity.
"Morrow sought to promote this objective under challenging circumstances. Australia has been very fortunate to attract a business leader of his calibre, and we do hope he chooses to remain onshore.
"We wish [him] success in whatever he seeks to pursue in his next chapter."