The number of spinners employed by NBN Co has skyrocketed under the Coalition. According to information provided in response to a question on notice from Senate estimates, NBN Co now employs 46 staff to manage its communications and marketing. This includes six in corporate communications, nine in state corporate affairs, seven in employee communications, a massive 12 in consumer and social media, 10 in government relations, a head of function and one in administration. By comparison, under Labor in July 2013, NBN Co had just 27 staff across corporate and government relations. It is even higher than in February, when NBN Co reported to Parliament that it had 28 communications staff.

The Prime Minister’s Office employs just 50 staff in total, including communications staff. It could be argued that the scale of NBN covering the whole country would warrant a high number of staff, but Australia Post has just 38 communications staff out of its 38,000 employees. NBN Co, by comparison, has just under 5000 staff, according to its most recent annual report.

NBN Co’s decision to go into consumer marketing through its blog (currently offering tech gift ideas for Christmas), has raised some eyebrows given the NBN is a wholesale service that does not sell products direct to the public.

Despite the boom in staff numbers, NBN Co is doing much more with much less in terms of funding compared to 2012-13. The budget for the corporate and regulatory affairs functions of NBN Co was $55.6 million in 2012-13 (including $33 million in ads), whereas now it is $20.2 million in total.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey