full opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay
26 September 2013
If Malcolm Turnbull is serious about making sure all Australians quickly get access to affordable, high-speed broadband, there is one man he must consider appointing to the board of NBN Co: The entrepreneur who was instrumental in bringing Australians broadband in the first place. Australia’s own Gordon Freeman; a giant who looms large in the telecommunications annals; an outside-the-box innovator; the thinking man’s NBN board director. Internode founder Simon Hackett.
It seems to be almost a daily occurrence at the moment that the mainstream media canvasses new names for executives who should be appointed to help steer the troubled affairs of the National Broadband Network Company.
Although Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull hasn’t formally confirmed the appointment, pretty much everyone at this point expects that, despite his abject lack of recent or historical experience actually deploying telecommunications networks, former Telstra and Optus CEO Ziggy Switkowski will be appointed sometime next week to lead NBN Co’s board and management team as executive chairman.
With this supposed pillar of stability (who exited both his former telco roles under questionable circumstances) in place, other names are being thrown up in supporting roles.
When it comes to the role of permanent chief executive (a position which also carries with it a board role) to replace NBN Co’s retiring leader Mike Quigley, The Australian newspaper has suggested names such as former Seven executive Rohan Lund, departed NBN Co head of construction Patrick Flannigan and long-time Optus chief Paul O’Sullivan. The Financial Review has canvassed options such as executives from Telstra, BT and New Zealand telco Chorus. And now that Turnbull has asked NBN Co’s board to resign, the speculation has begun about non-executive board directors as well. Today ex-Leighton chief Wal King had his hat involuntarily thrown into the ring.
The constant speculation about NBN Co is endlessly fascinating, because it actually does really matter who leads NBN Co, at both a board and an executive level.