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Praise For NBN Appointments

Praise For NBN Appointments

He is also the man most responsible for wiring Adelaide’s CBD and airport for free Wi-Fi.

Some observers are even suggesting he could be a candidate for the chief executive’s seat. Board chairman Ziggy Switkowski is currently also acting CEO, while executive search firm Egon Zehnder looks for a more permanent choice.

Delimiter Web site operative Renai LeMay, who earlier this year campaigned for Hackett’s appointment to the NBN Co board, yesterday enthusiastically hailed the appointment, pointing out that in July Hackett outlined a series of measures by which NBN Co could cut its costs and bring its pricy FttP rollout more in line with the Coalition’s FttN-based alternative.

Two other appointments made to the board yesterday – and announced by Comms Minister Malcolm Turnbull – also bring huge practical experience, something mostly lacking in the previous board, all but two of whom were sent packing following the September change of government:

– Justin Milne is a former Ozemail CEO, Telstra BigPond chief and the telco’s MD of voice, broadband and media in 2010.

– Patrick Flannigan is a former executive general manager of Skilled Engineering, and a cofounder of ASX-listed infrastructure provider Service Stream.

He joined NBN Co as the company’s head of construction in 2009, where he managed the company’s network construction and relationships with major contractors, but resigned in 2011 to found electricity, gas, water and telecoms service outfit Utility Services Group, where he is currently CEO.

Both Milne and Hackett face possible conflict-of-interest situations in their new roles, given their major shareholdings. Milne has reportedly agreed to sell his package of  305,000 Telstra shares, worth an estimated $1.6 million at yesterday’s closing price.

Hackett has said he will resign as Internode CEO and leave the board of iiNet, one of NBN Co’s largest customers. But his intentions surrounding his $37 million shareholding in iiNet – part of the deal under which iiNet acquired Internode – are less clear.

According to a Financial Review report, he has told iiNet chief executive Michael Malone that there are “no planned changes” to his 3.74 per cent stake. 

Some observers believe he would at least need to place the shares in escrow, and absent himself from board deliberations that might affect iiNet.