Mike Quigley wants three Kaisers

Mike Quigley wants three Kaisers

Summary: During a tense Senate hearing in Canberra Senator Ian McDonald questioned why NBN Co needed government relations officer Mike Kaiser when NBN Co was the government.

TOPICS: NBN, Broadband

During a tense Senate hearing in Canberra Senator Ian McDonald questioned why NBN Co needed government relations officer Mike Kaiser when NBN Co was the government.

"Your only two shareholders are in fact government ministers and hopefully you would be reporting directly to your shareholders," said McDonald. "I just can't understand the worth of a quite expensively paid government relations person when you're the government in effect."

McDonald then called Kaiser "highly political and manipulative". Kaiser was referred to NBN Co by Minister of Communications Stephen Conroy. Kaiser is currently on a $450,000 per annum package.

Mike Quigley

Quigley in Kaiser firing line
(Credit: Liam Tung/ZDNet.com.au)

Quigley replied that he was "absolutely convinced of [Mike Kaiser's] worth" and that he wished he had more staff in Kaiser's position. "I wish I had another two or three such people on board," Quigley said. "Frankly, our government relations person is spending much more time on state governments and local municipalities."

Asked whether the selection of the first five release sites on the mainland was designed to benefit the Rudd Government in marginal seats, Quigley assured McDonald that there was "no conspiracy".

"We're much too busy to be playing games about marginal seats, Senator," said Quigley.

But, to the dismay of fellow NBN senate estimates committee member, Labor Senator Kate Lundy, McDonald blamed Quigley's choice of Kaiser for those conspiracies.

"This is the problem when you engage as a government relations officer, a guy who has been up to his neck in political manipulation, rorting of electoral votes," said McDonald.

"What are you alleging?" asked a shocked Lundy. "Don't cast aspersions like that."

"This is the problem you get yourself in to," McDonald pressed on, "when you engage highly manipulative people in these very senior positions."

Lundy warned McDonald that what he said in Kaiser's absence would create for him the right to respond in the Senate. McDonald replied: "I don't think Mr Kaiser would reject any description I have given of him."

Quigley, however, wanted to set the record straight: "I find Mr Kaiser an extremely valuable member of the team. He is providing a lot of value-add to the team."

"And so did Mr Goss and Ms Bligh think he was a very valuable member of their teams, and the central campaign for the ALP committee?" McDonald asked Quigley. "I'm not alleging impropriety of you, but these are the conspiracy theories you generate when you appoint an officer like this."

At the close of the hearing, Liberal Senator Mary-Jo Fisher delivered Quigley a parting shot in preparation for their next run in: "Rest up ... Not."

Topics: NBN, Broadband

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Let’s get down to brass tacks, If the NBN is to be built, Kevin Rudd will need to sort out his financial commitment priorities for the Country. Above all, he must chose between two vital services: Health and Telecommunications wishful thinking. Health naturally comes first simply because without it we cannot hope to have the second.

    Mike Quigley intimated during his appraisal deposition to the Senate enquiry that it could be 20 to 30 years before the NBN makes a satisfactory financial return which clearly demonstrates that if the NBN is to be built it will need to be fully funded by taxpayers. It also illustrates the reason for his bargain hunting for Telstra assets.
    Vasso Massonic
  • Speaking of viability -- Optus have criticised the NBN (if it's retail) -- but here's what else they said:

    WSJ 15/4 -- "Despite the criticism, Optus said it remained a strong supporter of the NBN and believed it was a commercially viable project that had the potential to reshape the telecommunications in Australia.

    Quizzed by senators about Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's refusal to release the McKinsey/KPMG implementation study into the NBN, Mr Krishnapillai said Optus had done its own modelling and did not need the McKinsey report to conclude the NBN was commercially viable.

    He said the $43bn price tag for the fibre-to-the-home network was the absolute maximum and it could be done for far less if Telstra did not “hold the whole country to ransom on access pricing.

    Nice try Telstra minion, the NBN keeps rolling on, so say bye bye to the monopoly...