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850 NBN staff paid more than $200,000 amid government pay crackdown

New figures, provided to a Senate committee, show that as of September 9 this year 4859 of its 6300 employees were paid in excess of $100,000 a year, including 733 workers on salaries worth between $200,000 and $300,000.

An NBN Co spokesman said staff were employed under individually negotiated contracts, enterprise agreements and other commercial arrangements.

“In order to remain competitive and attract and retain critical talent to the organisation, NBN Co benchmarks senior executive remuneration against other telecommunications companies, although the remuneration … is more aligned to the more modest ratio of comparable government business enterprises, rather than that of listed entities,” he said.

The spokesman said the network and its employees were also accountable for corporate expenses and “aware of our corporate expense policies”.

He said this budget includes community engagement functions, which were maintained during the pandemic, as well as hotels and food for staff on business trips.

The spokesman said travel and events expenses were reduced during this period with the amount incurred equating “to an average monthly expense of approximately $8 per month, per employee”.

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The rollout of the network finished earlier this year and the NBN Co has revealed plans to reduce its staffing levels to 5500 by the end of 2020, leaving 800 people redundant.

Labor’s government accountability spokeswoman Kimberley Kitching said NBN Co was the new “millionaires factory”.

“NBN Co employs public servants who take no private-sector risk, but are given multimillion-dollar rewards,” Senator Kitching said.

There are 877 NBN workers earning about the same or more than the base salary of a backbencher, which was $211,250 on July 1.

The technology provider came under fire earlier this month over the potential payment of millions of dollars in bonuses to senior executives this year. CEO Stephen Rue received a $1.7 million salary package in 2019 and an extra $828,000 in short-term incentives.

Other publicly-funded executives are also under pressure after the Morrison government told the board of directors of Australia Post to veto more than $7 million of bonuses at the same time as the nation faces the worst recession in more than 90 years.

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