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Exetel CEO John Linton passes away

Telecommunications industry veteran and outspoken CEO of Exetel John Linton has passed away overnight.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor on

Telecommunications industry veteran and outspoken CEO of Exetel John Linton has passed away overnight.

(Western Ground Parrot WA image by Brent Barrett, CC BY-SA 2.0) 

Linton, who ran Exetel since 2004, passed away overnight after suffering from a stroke at lunch yesterday. News of his passing was announced on Linton's blog by his son James.

"Yesterday my dad was doing what he liked doing best. Eating at a nice restaurant, drinking nice wines and talking about the state of the telecommunications market in Australia, and the various companies that make this up," he said.

"At lunch he suffered what was thought to be a mild stroke, and was immediately taken to St Vincent's Hospital. He was conscious in the ambulance, responding to their questions, but when he got to the hospital he had trouble breathing and they needed to put him into a medically induced coma and put him on a ventilator to help him breathe. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a very intensive stroke and there was nothing the doctors could do without killing him in an operation or leaving him severely brain damaged. So last night, with most of my family present, his ventilator was turned off and a few hours later he passed away peacefully."

"This is the saddest day of my life, I have lost my dad, my mentor, my boss and one of my best friends."

Exetel engineering head Steve Waddington, who worked with Linton for 16 years, said that there was no one tougher than Linton.

"He was the toughest person I think I will ever meet. The most honest person I have ever met, and one of the kindest. But above all he was unique, with the clarity of vision and sharpness of mind that was simply awesome," Waddington said in a blog post.

"He has been my manager, my mentor and my friend."

Linton will be remembered as an incredibly vocal member of the industry, both at telecommunications conferences and on his blog. He spoke out on issues such as Telstra's dominance in fixed-line services, the film industry's fight with iiNet and the National Broadband Network (NBN). He was not shy in voicing his disapproval of the NBN; in his last interview with ZDNet Australia, he said that it is a waste of taxpayers' money.

"It will be just another waste of taxes — too late to prevent that happening now," he said at the time. "There is no justification — it was, and remains, [Former Prime Minister] Rudd's legacy to his overarching ego that he was an unbelievably pig-ignorant man that had tried to win an election making stupid promises, and a refusal to face the reality that he was catastrophically wrong."

James Linton said that those wishing to buy flowers should instead donate to John's favourite charity, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

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