We'll wait and see on NBN chief: Hockey

Summary:Shadow Treasurer Hockey will not say whether NBN Co's CEO would keep his job if the Coalition wins the next Australian Federal Election.

Federal Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey will not say whether NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley will remain in his job, despite a party colleague saying that he would be sacked if the National Broadband Network (NBN) is funded by the private sector.

Liberal MP Paul Fletcher called for Quigley to be sacked after the network's latest corporate plan revealed a cost blowout and lower-than-projected connections.

Fletcher was director of corporate and regulatory affairs at Optus for seven years before entering parliament.

Asked on ABC Radio in Melbourne about whether Quigley should be fired, Hockey said that this decision can only be made by the minister for communications.

"We'll wait and see when we get in," he said.

"This is a matter for the incoming minister for communications. Let's see how it pans out."

Hockey refused to say whether he has confidence in Quigley, saying only that if elected, the Coalition will put Australia's needs first.

"I'm not going to get into the game of individuals holding jobs or not. That's incredibly arrogant from the position of opposition," he said.

Hockey said that the government has failed to deliver the system within the promised five years, with predicted delivery now stretching to 2021.

"If he has overruns or doesn't deliver on time, taxpayers underwrite it. It's a perfect scenario for a corporate boss," he said.

"I don't think there should ever be a blank cheque on these things. I think there needs to be a robust system of checks and balances to ensure we get the best service at affordable cost," he said.

The original 2009 announcement of the NBN in April 2009 was at a price of AU$43 billion, and was expected to be completed within eight years. The current network is forecast to require a capital cost of AU$37.4 billion, and will be completed by June 2021, with NBN Co forecasting the network to be paid off by 2033.

Josh Taylor contributed to this article.

Topics: NBN

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