NBN Co CEO's job on the line under the Coalition?

Malcolm Turnbull has suggested Mike Quigley's lack of construction experience in telco is related to delays in the NBN

Malcolm Turnbull has indicated the Coalition would implement changes at the management and board level of NBN Co if it wins the federal election.

The shadow communications minister has been highly critical of NBN Co’s role in delays in the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and today questioned the competence of NBN Co’s CEO Mike Quigley as head of the company.

“I think the management’s performance has been very unsatisfactory. The fact that they’ve missed so many targets surely is enough evidence for that,” he said at the Commsday Summit.

“Mike Quigley, while no doubt is a very capable man [and] respected in the industry, was the wrong choice for this job. He’s spent his life working for a vendor.”

Turnbull said the head of NBN Co should be someone with experience in rolling out a telecom network, either at a construction level or at a business level.

“Someone who sells electronic kit is obviously a million miles away from that. That is a very, very different business and I think the problems that they’re having with construction are not unrelated to that,” he said.

On Tuesday the Coalition unveiled its broadband policy, where most households would have access to connections up to 50Mbps and a minimum speed of 25Mbps.

The Coalition expects its NBN would be completed in 2019 at a capital expenditure cost of $20.4 billion, requiring $29.5 billion in funding.

Turnbull said today if the Coalition were in government, there could be “considerable changes” at the management level of NBN Co.

“As far as the board is concerned, I think you can assume there will be very considerable changes there. While there are a number of consultants on the board, there is nobody there with the sort of high level telecoms experience that you would expect on an enterprise of this kind,” he said.

Turnbull and Quigley have had a deeply antagonistic relationship. Last year Turnbull attacked Quigley, stating he should back down over claims a government-run “communications monopoly” would be friendlier than a private sector option following NBN Co lodging a revised Special Access Undertaking (SAU) with the ACCC.

He was also critical of Quigley’s call for a Comms Alliance-led study to decide what is the best technology to use to roll out high-speed broadband across Australia, stating it was a "bizarre twist" in the broadband debate.

Turnbull defended the Coalition claim that Labor’s NBN would blow out to $94 billion, which Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has said is “basically made up”.

Turnbull said the Coalition’s figures have been based on the rollout taking four years longer than planned and an average cost of passing a premise at $3600 under Labor's NBN.

“That is well below what is currently costing them, as we’re advised. They will not tell us what it is costing them to pass premises at the moment,” Turnbull said.

“That is a state secret, apparently. It’s not a state secret anywhere else in the world. It’s a state secret here in Australia.”

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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