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Vodafone Boss Asked To Fix Up Labor’s NBN Mess

Vodafone Boss Asked To Fix Up Labor

The move comes as  Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull moves to fix the mess left behind by the former Labor Government who have been trying to run a spoiling campaign via  a Labor-dominated Senate Select Committee that includes Stephen Conroy the former Labor Communications Minister who has been credited for creating what has been described as the “NBN mess” by several experienced observers. 

Also set to be released is a 60-day NBN Strategic Review, ordered by the Abbott Government soon after winning September’s election.

Morrow’s appointment was foreshadowed late last night by newsletter Communications Day, which claimed Morrow had been picked largely because of his strength as a turnaround specialist.

He has been heading Vodafone’s local operations since March last year, when he was brought on board by joint venture partners Hutchison Whampoa and the UK-based Vodafone Group to lead the No. 3 telco following huge outages and near-disastrous losses of subscriber numbers.

NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski has been acting as interim CEO for NBN Co while a permanent replacement has been sought.

The redacted Strategic Review is expected to be released publicly around 1pm today. 

The document, prepared by a team led by Switkowski, has been aimed at analysing the progress and cost of the NBN rollout and NBN Co’s financial and operational status. Switkowski has previously indicated it is likely to conclude that the NBN should move to a fibre-to-the-node (FttN) approach rather than the fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) approach ordered by the previous Labor government.

Redactions in the document are claimed to be mainly aimed at keeping secret commercial-in-confidence aspects of the findings. “For the review to be relevant, it has to get down to a very high level of detail into commercial elements, and it is doing that. And they cannot be disclosed,” Switkowski has said.

Meanwhile, a Labor-dominated Senate Select Committee this week ordered a number of NBN Co executives to appear before it yesterday. The executives included head of strategy and transformation JB Rousselot, commercial head Kevin Brown, chief operating officer Greg Adcock, chief marketing officer Kieren Cooney, CTO Gary McLaren, and CFO Robin Payne.

The summons had been slammed by Turnbull earlier this week. ”The NBN Co executive team have appeared before Senate Estimates and the NBN Committee twice in the last three weeks. They have offered to appear on Friday after the publication of the Strategic Review, and – to meet the convenience of the senators – a public hearing has been scheduled for next Tuesday,” he said.

In the event, Rousselot did not turn up as he was required to put finishing touches to the Strategic Review documents; and the others had little to tell the committee ahead of the documents’ publication. But Cooney faced a special grilling from former Comms Minister Stephen Conroy, who called him a “smart-arse” for attempting to shut down the committee hearing over a quorum issue.