How do bean counters at the NBN get through the daily grind? With the help of $437,000 worth of taxpayer-funded coffee.
NBN Co has revealed it spent $210,000 of public money buying high-end espresso machines for its office staff – at an average cost of roughly $5000 for each piece of equipment. It has also spent $145,000 on coffee and $82,000 on machine maintenance.
The company in charge of building Australia’s high-speed broadband network, which has 5000 staff, also appears to be spending more on coffee than all other major government departments and agencies, which have a combined total of about 155,000 staff.
Most major departments – including Treasury, Finance, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Environment – say they do not buy coffee machines or coffee for staff. Of those that do, the total spending adds up to about $129,000 in recent years – although some major departments such as Defence do not provide figures.
NBN Co said the spending was a productivity measure which dated back to the early days of the company, established by Labor.
“Since the establishment of the company coffee and coffee machines have been purchased by NBN as an amenity for employees, contractors and visitors in order to aid productivity by reducing the time spent by staff purchasing coffee outside their offices,” a spokesperson told Fairfax Media.
The numbers were revealed in a series of answers to a questions on notice by Labor senator Catryna Bilyk, who questions why NBN staff can’t pay for their own coffee like most other public servants.
“It’s no wonder Malcolm Turnbull’s second-rate NBN is years behind schedule – NBN Co is too busy sipping taxpayer-funded lattes to get the job done,” she said. “Instead of delivering the fair dinkum fibre NBN Australians are crying out for, Mr Turnbull is delivering more waste and mismanagement.”
Among NBN’s favourite machines is the $4577 Necta Koro, which is said to offer “excellent, full-bodied espresso at the optimum extraction temperature and exquisite mixed beverages, including a wonderful cappuccino with a long-lasting, creamy top”.
It is also partial to the Swiss-designed $5753 Jura Impress X9: “Easy to use even for the inexperienced, highly versatile and extremely reliable, the Impressa X9 makes exceptional coffee specialities with one single touch. Treat your customers, guests, employees and yourself to coffee at its very best.”