blog If you had any shred of belief that Australia’s debate over the National Broadband Network had further depths to sink to, let that belief be laid aside. Today, News Ltd (who else?) published an article attacking the amount of money which NBN Co spends on … coffee. That’s right; coffee. The NBN debate has officially reached the lowest possible point that it could reach. News Ltd reports (we don’t recommend you click here for the full article, it’s a joke):
“The 31 machines are costing almost $4000 a month in beans and their maintenance has cost more than $10,000.”
Wow. What a shocker. This incredible revelation was placed in News Ltd’s article above the far more interesting news of the delays NBN Co is suffering through its contractor Syntheo in some states. Which editor made that choice to elevate the coffee issue over the status of the rollout of a $37 billion infrastructure project? The mind boggles.
What’s even worse … Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was forced to take questions on the fraught coffee situation during a doorstop interview in Sydney this morning (he was suitable scathing), and this afternoon we received a media release from NBN Co (PDF) on the issue, to clarify the situation. The company said:
“NBN Co has dismissed claims about the high cost of coffee on the company’s premises. A single cup of coffee at NBN Co works out at around eight and a half cents per cup per working day per person. When the cost of the coffee machines and their annual maintenance is added to the equation, the price comes to about 16 cents a cup. The company was responding to media reports arising from an answer to a Question on Notice from the Senate Estimates Committee.
A detailed, multi-part question sought from NBN Co the cost of coffee, coffee pods, coffee machines and their maintenance, specifics about the type of coffee machines purchased as well as the reason for their purchase. Coffee and coffee machines have been purchased by NBN Co 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.”
Let me be the first to damn the Coalition for pursuing this ridiculous line of reasoning, and the journalists who reported it for abdicating their duty to inform the Australian public of current events. Collectively, anyone who touched this line of inquiry with a bargepole is a flat out joke and should be ashamed to call themselves “professional”. It sickens me to see our democratic systems and NBN Co’s staff forced to waste time on this nonsense. Can’t we all just grow the hell up? Well, perhaps it’s the right day for a good farce.