Turnbull promises 'total change of management culture' at NBN Co

Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that former Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski will take the reins at NBN Co.

Switkowski was widely expected to take charge of the company after the board was ousted late last month. The communications minister described Switkowski as "one of the most experienced telecommunications executives in Australia".

Two members of the previous NBN Co board, Alison Lansley and Kerry Schott, will join Switkowski on the new NBN Co board.

The new board will oversee a strategic review of the NBN. Turnbull told a press conference held earlier today that it was important "to have a very clear-eyed, accurate, objective assessment of where the company is at the moment".

The NBN rollout so far "has been a shockingly misconceived exercise, wasteful exercise, in public policy," Turnbull said. "We are endeavouring to recover value for it and get the job completed as quickly and cost effectively as we can. But we need to know, what is the state of the project right now, accurately.

"We then need to know what the real trajectory of it would be were the previous policy settings to be kept in place. And then we need to know what are our options for making it more cost effective, finishing it sooner, making it more affordable for consumers, making it less expensive for taxpayers."

Turnbull said the government wants the review to report the "unvarnished facts".

"We do not want spin," the minister said. "We do not want the company to tell us what they think we might want to hear. We want to know what the real facts are. And then, armed with those facts, then we can make decisions about the future of the project and Australians will see the actual, factual context in which we're making them."

Although during the election the Coalition made much of replacing the current fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) rollout with a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) rollout, which relies on copper phone lines instead of optical fibre to deliver the 'last mile' of connectivity, Turnbull said that the mix of technologies ultimately used to complete the rollout would depend on the review's outcome.

"There is a total change of management culture both from a government point of view and from the company point of view," Turnbull said. "We've stepped out of the world of spin and politics and ideology, and into the world of business and objective facts, and making decisions in a rational way."


Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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