opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay
12 November 2013
Image credit: Internode
That moment which many Australian technologists fervently hoped for but never expected to see has come to pass: Simon Hackett has been appointed to the board of the National Broadband Network Company. But what questions should the Internode founder be asking NBN Co’s executive management team? Here’s five ideas to start with.
Right now, there’s a lot of excitement in the telecommunications industry regarding the appointment announced this morning of Internode founder Simon Hackett to the board of the National Broadband Network Company. And it’s not hard to see why.
Much of the industry, at this point, retains a deep cynicism about the actions which new Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition in general have taken with respect to the NBN project as a whole since the conservative side of politics swept to power in the recent Federal Election. Appointing a controversial new NBN Co executive chairman who’s been out of the industry for almost a decade? Hand-picking several other NBN Co executive staff with personal connections to Turnbull or the Coalition but little direct experience deploying fibre telecommunications infrastructure? Appointing a slab of new external consultants? Radically altering the NBN future rollout map? None of these actions have sat comfortably with the Australian population with regard to an important infrastructure project they are keenly interested in.
Hackett’s appointment, as the wave of rejoicing on social media today demonstrates, is the first real win for Turnbull in the post-election national debate about the future of the NBN under the Coalition. It is the first step Turnbull has taken with respect to NBN Co which the general public will wholeheartedly approve of.
The appointment strongly demonstrates that Turnbull is not afraid of having independent voices on NBN Co’s board. Hackett has been a strident critic of quite a few of NBN Co’s actions and policies in general and has not been afraid to go toe to toe with previous Communications Minister Stephen Conroy on the issue, blasting the Labor Senator repeatedly in public for his NBN missteps. His appointment signals that NBN Co’s board and management team over the next several years will not wholly be composed of ex-Telstra executives with close connections to Turnbull or the Coalition in general. Hackett’s not a “yes man”, by any measure.