NBN Co works to address dissatisfied users

NBN Co has more than doubled its revenue as connections to the network accelerate, but the company acknowledges it is months away from addressing growing frustrations among customers.

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With 2.4 million homes and businesses now active NBN users through service provider’s like Telstra or Optus, NBN Co’s revenue rose from $421 million in the 2015/16 financial year to $1 billion in 2016/17.

But while the NBN provides download speeds of up to 100 megabytes per second, the majority of customers have selected speeds of 25Mbps or less – reflecting the network’s under-utilised potential.

Telecommunications expert Paul Budde said Australians can’t afford the highest speeds.

“NBN Co’s business model is set by the government,” he said.

“Instead of rolling out to those who want or can afford a premium service – like a normal commercial enterprise – the company’s objective is to link the entire country like a social-economic investment.”

Mr Budde said the cost of this investment is then borne by retail service providers (RSPs) which are selling broadband.

“(The RSPs) are burdened by the market reality that $60 to $70 dollars only gets you a second rate service with disappointing speeds,” he said.

NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow also admitted the process of transferring customers onto NBN services has not always been user-friendly.

“We know we have an issue with the activation process for too many end users, we have daily meetings about how that is getting addressed,” he said.

“We’re working closely with the RSPs to be able to rectify this and it is the top priority within the company.

“I believe its going to take us a number of months before we can actually address this adequately.”

He said 75 per cent of users have transferred to the NBN within 18 months of it rolling out in their area, ahead of the company’s target of 74 per cent.

In the 2016/17 financial year, 2.8 million premises were connected to NBN infrastructure, bringing the total to 5.7 million.

Regional construction is now two-thirds complete and the metro footprint is one-third complete, and average weekly activations 45,000 homes are expected to increase as the rollout ramps up in major cities.

Mr Morrow said the company’s 2020 targets remain in place, with a completed build connecting 8 million homes, driving $8 billion in annual revenue.

Australia needs a population plan: Smith

Entrepreneur Dick Smith says Australia needs a population plan to help save the country from an addiction to “endless growth” and increasing inequality.

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Mr Smith on Tuesday launched a campaign calling for a limit on the number of immigrants entering Australia to stabilise the population below 30 million.

The Dick Smith Fair Go advertisement also targets the country’s wealthiest individuals, demanding the top one per cent of income earners publicly reveal the amount of tax they pay.

His controversial $1 million ads reimagines the 1980s “Grim Reaper” AIDS campaign and features the same voice actor, John Stanton.

“All Australian families have a population plan, they don’t have 20 kids, they have the number of children they can give a good life to,” Mr Smith told AAP in Sydney.

“But our politicians don’t have an equivalent plan for the country as a whole.”

The campaign calls for an inheritance tax for the wealthiest one per cent of the population to ensure Australia doesn’t end up like the United States, Mr Smith said.

“When I was a young person in the 1950s all Americans were wealthy and Australians were poor by comparison (but) now you have about 40 million Americans on minimum federal wage.”

Mr Smith believes endless growth and greed means finite wealth has to be divided between more people “and that means less for most”.

Citing US entrepreneur Nick Hanaeur he suggested rising inequality always led to the poor taking up pitchforks.

Mr Smith, at Tuesday’s launch at the Hilton hotel, waved a plastic devil’s pitchfork for emphasis.

The former adventurer insists he’s pro-immigration but argues the current rate is too high.

He does, however, want Australia to increase its humanitarian intake to 20,000 a year.

Mr Smith’s advertisements will air daily for three weeks on television, radio and online.

Sydney mum convicted over abortion pills

A Sydney mother of five who took abortion pills to try to terminate her 28-week pregnancy has been convicted and placed on a three-year good behaviour bond.

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Blacktown Local Court Magistrate Geoffrey Hiatt said he was satisfied the woman, who was 28 at the time, acted intentionally to illegally try to have a miscarriage by taking the abortion pills.

In a July judgment made public on Monday, Mr Hiatt said the woman – who had pleaded not guilty – had been about 19 weeks pregnant when her partner of three years told her he did not want her to have the child because they were not married.

”The accused did not act upon this and continued to attend medical check-ups,” Mr Hiatt said in his judgment.

”At about 26 weeks into the pregnancy, her boyfriend again urged her to terminate the pregnancy.

”She told her boyfriend that it may be too late to have an abortion.

”She contacted a number of clinics in NSW and interstate and was refused from all of them on the basis that her pregnancy was past 20 weeks.”

Mr Hiatt said the woman, who had five children aged between four to nine, eventually found someone she believed was in Darwin, known as “Patrick”, who was prepared to facilitate an abortion when she was 28 weeks’ pregnant.

Patrick told the woman it was possible to have a termination up to 30 weeks and he would send her abortion pills for $2000.

She received a package from South Africa in early September 2015 containing a pack of 10 pills each containing 200 milligrams of misoprostol, a hormone-type substance.

She took six pills the next day before becoming unwell and was taken by a friend to Blacktown Hospital.

An emergency caesarean section was performed and the child was born.

”The ongoing debate regarding pro- and anti-abortion is a polarising issue within the community,” Mr Hiatt said.

”In my view, the clear intent of the parliament was to enact provisions which would hold persons criminally responsible for unlawful acts towards a foetus causing either a miscarriage or an abortion to occur.

“In essence, protection for a foetus from the time of conception through all stages of pregnancy to the point of birth.”

Business gets poor marks for Asia skills

Ninety per cent of Australia’s top 200 countries are clueless when it comes to understanding how to do business in Asia.

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A report by think tank Asialink reveals most of corporate Australia lack a sophisticated knowledge of Asian markets along with trusted relationships, language skills and cultural awareness.

“Just as we wouldn’t send our top athletes onto the field without ample training, we shouldn’t expect business leaders to kick winning goals in Asia until they are match fit,” Asialink Business CEO Mukund Narayanamurti said.

Out of a possible total of 30, the average Asia capability score of ASX 200 boards was only 6.42.

Non-listed companies proved more agile in Asia, often outperforming their ASX colleagues, especially at the senior executive level.

The report found large public companies are out-performing smaller ones.

Energy and resources and financial services sectors are getting better marks but manufacturing, healthcare and pharmaceuticals groups are the least match-fit for Asia.

Senior female executives in the top ASX 200 companies, however, were four times more likely than male counterparts to have Asia literacy in their skill set.

PwC Asia practice leader Andrew Parker said corporate Australia needed to lift its game.

“If the last 25 years have been about shipping our commodities to Asia, the coming decades will be a story of services and consumption fuelled by a rapidly expanding Asian middle-class,” he said.

“If we aspire to be more than casual observers, Australian businesses will need to be where the consumers are – and that is increasingly in Asia.”

Institute of Managers and Leaders chief executive David Pich said a shift in long term growth over short term returns was well overdue.

“Asia offers businesses the chance to achieve double-digit growth but these returns are characteristically seen in the medium to long term,” he said.

Matulino out, Foran in for Rabbitohs clash

Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman will make his 250th NRL appearance in Friday’s dead-rubber NRL clash with the Rabbitohs in Sydney, but will do so without regular front-row partner Ben Matulino.

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Matulino has been handed a one-match ban by the NRL judiciary for a late-match shoulder charge on Canberra’s Elliot Whitehead in last week’s 36-16 home loss.

The 23-cap Kiwis enforcer made an early guilty plea and was duly slapped with a one-game ban on Tuesday, ruling him out of Friday’s game.

Sam Lisone has been named in the No.10 jumper in Matulino’s place and will partner the 33-year-old Lillyman, who joined the Warriors in 2009 after 62 games for the Cowboys and has gone on to play for the club 187 times.

Off-contract at the end of the year, the coming weeks could be the 14-time Queensland representative’s last in Auckland.

Elsewhere, the Canterbury-bound Kieran Foran returns to the starting line-up after missing Sunday’s loss to the Raiders with a shoulder issue.

He’ll partner Ata Hingano in the halves, with Mason Lino – originally chosen to replace the injured Shaun Johnson – demoted to an eight-man extended bench.

Issac Luke remains on the pine after being dropped for his recent poor form, where he’ll be joined by the returning Charlie Gubb.

Both sides’ NRL finals hopes are long gone.

WARRIORS: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), David Fusitu’a, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Kieran Foran, Ata Hingano, Jacob Lillyman, Nathaniel Roache, Sam Lisone, Bunty Afoa, Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering. INTERCHANGE: Issac Luke, Chris Satae, Isaiah Papali’i, Charlie Gubb, Mason Lino, Toafofoa Sipley, James Bell, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.