/>
X
Government

Rudd backs NBN Co's Kaiser hire

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has defended Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's role in helping a Labor powerbroker land a plum job with the National Broadband Network.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor and  AAP , Contributor on

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has defended Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's role in helping a Labor powerbroker land a plum job with the National Broadband Network.

It surfaced yesterday in Estimates that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy had referred former Queensland Labor MP Mike Kaiser for the government relations role with NBN Co — the company that will build and operate the $43 billion network.

The position was never advertised and Kaiser, who was Queensland Premier Anna Bligh's chief of staff, was the only applicant interviewed for the $450,000-a-year job. Conroy had been the only person to refer him to the company.

In 2001, Kaiser was forced to quit the Queensland Parliament in disgrace after it emerged he had been involved in electoral rorting.

However, Rudd was satisfied the appointment was fair. "Both myself and the government have full confidence in NBN Co and full confidence in the minister," Rudd said.

"It was [NBN Co's] independent decision and as I understand it they undertook three sets of interviews before reaching that decision."

But the opposition's legal affairs spokesperson, George Brandis, said Kaiser, who was a close, personal friend of the minister and had no previous corporate experience, was appointed through a corrupted process.

"I'm accusing him [Senator Conroy] of interfering in the process to secure this job for one of his mates," Senator Brandis said.

"The manner in which this was done is plainly, plainly a corrupted process."

Rudd said his office had been aware of Kaiser's imminent appointment but that he had no personal knowledge prior to its public announcement.

"My office were apprised by NBN Co and/or the minister's office, I can't recall which, between the decision being taken by NBN Co and the public announcement," he said.

"This was an independent decision by NBN Co."

Editorial standards