NBN Co execs to be hauled before Senate committee

Summary:Acting chairman of the NBN Committee Stephen Conroy has ordered the executive team of NBN Co to appear before the committee tomorrow after the executives again declined an invitation.

Several key NBN Co executives have been ordered to appear before the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network (NBN) tomorrow, after they once again declined to appear before the committee.

In a press release this afternoon, acting NBN Co chair and former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that NBN Co's head of strategy JB Rousselot, chief operating officer Greg Adcock, chief technology officer Gary McLaren, and chief financial officer Robin Payne were invited a week ago to appear before the committee.

Although the committee had changed the date to avoid a conflict with an NBN Co board meeting, Conroy said that NBN Co informed the committee that the executives had declined to appear tomorrow.

"Therefore, the committee has issued an order for NBN Co personnel to appear in person at the committee's hearing on December 11," Conroy said.

"It is with regret that the committee has had to issue this summons. It follows another summons issued to NBN Co by the committee last month."

At that hearing, NBN Co's executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski appeared before the committee , and was taken to task by Conroy over the planned changes to the NBN rollout, and the state of Telstra's copper network, which would be used in a proposed fibre-to-the-node model.

Conroy was also highly critical of the appointment of some of the executives who he now seeks to question, including Adcock, who Conroy said was responsible for the delays to the NBN rollout during his time overseeing the Telstra pit and duct remediation.

"I am just seeking to establish whether ... NBN Co have hired the bloke that stalled the rollout to manage the rollout. I would have thought you would have wanted to understand that before you hired somebody," he said.

Conroy also accused Rousselot — who Conroy said shares a boat with Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull — of being sacked from Telstra.

"[Rousselot] started, I understand, a bit higher in the tree, and was so incompetent that they demoted him on a number of occasions. What was his final position at Telstra before he was terminated?" Conroy asked.

"Senator, I do not accept that description of his career. His time at Telstra overlapped my time at Telstra. I was aware of him in the area of the BigPond broadband business and media and content. He is a very skilled financial individual, and knowledgeable," Switkowski said.

In his release today, Conroy said that NBN Co's reluctance to put forward any of its executives is "at odds" with Turnbull's commitment to more transparency at NBN Co.

"The committee is investigating and analysing the Coalition's AU$30 billion broadband policy, and it is expected that NBN Co will cooperate with the committee's work," Conroy said.

It comes as later this week, NBN Co is expected to release a heavily redacted version of its strategic review .

Topics: NBN

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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