Updated: Exclusive - Tasmanian NBN dumps all Tasmanian board members

Sources claim three local board members appointed by Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett, don’t get their contracts renewed

The three local board members of NBN Tasmania, Mark Kelleher, Dr Daniel Norton and Sean Woellner, have not had their 12-month contracts renewed and will be dropped, according to senior sources close to the organisation.

The organisation is responsible for the rollout of the National Broadband Network throughout Tasmania and its board is currently headed by former Telstra executive, Doug Campbell.

ARN understands the changes come on the back of a degrading relationship between NBN Co and Aurora Energy, which was ditched as a joint venture partner in late 2009. Aurora has since become a procurement agent.

The three local directors were appointed by Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett, in August 2009 after critics pointed out the lack of local input. The latest move will leave the board with no Tasmanians.

A spokesperson for NBN Co confirmed the resignations and said Dr Norton resigned from the board in December 2009 due to 'other commitments'.

"We also thank Sean and Mark for what they have contributed to the board of NBN Tas during their one year appointment," the spokesperson said. "As is appropriate, further appointments will be considered after the election."

Digital Tasmania spokesperson, Andrew Connor, said the rollout of the National Broadband Network in his state was a very good thing, but more locals need to be trained and hold senior roles.

“It’s a bit of a concern that there’s no local input on it and there are certainly enough smart people here that could take part,” he said. “They would have the experience of the Tasmanian situation and want to get the best out of it for our consumers and businesses.

“We hope that all board members have been selected on merit and will do the best for the state…from day one they should be training local people to do all sorts of roles from the physical work to the high-end business operations of the network.”

TasmaNet is a Tasmanian telco with no involvement in the NBN. Its managing director, Joel Harris, said there was not much senior local involvement in the rollout.

“TNBN Co is almost a mythical creature that we don’t know much about,” he said. “We tried for some time to work with the NBN and we subscribed to their emails and newsletters but got nothing back.

“We’d like to get involved and test some of our business cases with their products…the problem down here is that the State Government thought they would have more control.

“Because of the confusion a lot of people now have different expectations as to what it is and what it should do for them. That includes timelines for delivery of services and what they are.”

But Harris stopped short of calling for Aurora Energy to take the reins and control the rollout. He said while the staff were excellent at their jobs, they were not being provided the resources they needed to make it 'core business'.

“Aurora does a very good job and they manage the State Government’s fibre network so they’ve learnt a lot from that,” he said. “But at the same it’s not their core business and I think they should concentrate on their core business.”

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