Switkowski earns AU$50K per month extra as NBN Co CEO

NBN Co executive chairman Dr Ziggy Switkowski will earn an additional AU$50,000 per month over the top of his base chairman's salary every month until he appoints a replacement CEO to the company.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor on

NBN Co executive chairman Dr Ziggy Switkowski has revealed that his wage for his part-time chairmanship for NBN Co is also topped up with an additional AU$50,000 per month until a new CEO is appointed.

Image: Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet

Switkowski's 3.5-day-per-week chairmanship is believed to come with an AU$180,000 per year salary at NBN Co, but in facing a grilling from former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy in a Senate Select hearing in Canberra today, Switkowski revealed that he is also receiving an additional AU$50,000 per month while he is acting as an executive chairman, until he appoints a new CEO to the company.

Were Switkowski the executive chairman for a full 12 months, he would be paid at least AU$780,000 by NBN Co. The government-owned company had previously refused to disclose Switkowski's wage when asked by ZDNet, stating that his wage would be revealed in NBN Co's next annual report.

Switkowski indicated that he hopes that the CEO role will be filled shortly, but would not disclose who is currently a candidate for the position.

Conroy asked whether "Malcolm Turnbull's best friend", Openreach's director of network investment Mike Galvin, is one of the candidates, but Switkowski refused to confirm or deny whether Galvin is on the list.

ZDNet interviewed Galvin in March on BT's £2.5 billion fibre-to-the-cabinet project that is aiming to pass two thirds of the population by mid-2014. Last night, BT's CEO Gavin Patterson told ZDNet that the project is still running "on time", and said it would come in under budget.

Switkowski indicated that the NBN Co strategic review would be handed to the government on Monday, but indicated that there is confidential commercial information contained in the review that would make it difficult for the government to disclose it in full to the public.

He said that the quality of the copper network would be assessed as part of the NBN Co review.

"Work continues around trying to establish the condition of the copper network around the country, and various RSPs have worked together to determine initially a heat map of the performance of the copper network and then down to specific lines," he said.

The Department of Communications indicated yesterday that its own review of the availability of broadband in Australia would not include a review of the copper network itself.

On the question of whether the government would be able to meet its commitment to deliver 25Mbps to all premises by the end of 2016, Switkowski said he didn't want to pre-empt the findings of the review, but admitted it would be "very challenging".

He said it is important to get the rollout back on track first.

"We are three years into the rollout and two years behind. Part of the problem has been to make heroic forecasts and miss them," he said.

"It will take all of next year [to fix it]."

In a hearing that was reminiscent of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull's bouts with former NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley, Conroy often took Switkowski to task over his responses to the committee. He first accused Telstra of allegedly "sacking" new NBN Co head of strategy JB Rousselot, and said that NBN Co's new chief operations officer Greg Adcock had allegedly "stalled" the rollout of the NBN during his time overseeing the remediation of pits and ducts in Telstra.

When Switkowski would often decline to answer on the grounds that he would pre-empt the government's decisions from the strategic review, Conroy would say the chairman was compelled to answer.

"You cannot hide behind the review in answering a factual question," Conroy said.

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