Shadow broadband Minister, Senator Nick Minchin, has lashed out at the Government’s recent NBNco appointments, claiming the organisation is a “dumping ground” for Labor supporters and ex-party staffers.
The accusation comes after chief of staff for Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, Mike Kaiser, was named principal of Government relations and external affairs for NBNco. The company was established to deliver the $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN).
Minchin said recruiting Kaiser, along with Federal Labor staffer, Jody Fassina, on the board of the Tasmanian NBNco in August, was “highly provocative” and “raises serious questions”.
In a press release, Minchin highlighted Kaiser’s past resignation as a Queensland MP in 2001 after the Shepherdson Inquiry into electoral fraud. He further insinuated Fassina secured the job as a result of her friendship with broadband Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy.
Minchin, a staunch critic of the NBN, is demanding an explanation from the Government.
“These blatantly provocative appointments demonstrate that the Rudd Government has no qualms about using its ill-conceived $43 billion NBN project as a vehicle to reward Labor mates at the expense of taxpayers,” he said in a statement. “The Rudd Government must cease using the NBNco as a taxpayer-funded gravy train for Labor mates.
“It must also stop its reckless NBN spending, which is extraordinary considering the project’s $25 million implementation study is still months from completion.”
A spokesperson for Senator Conroy has refuted Minchin's claims.
“NBNco has made an independent merit-based decision to employ Mike Kaiser as an external affairs and public policy specialist," the spokesperson said. "The company is responsible for its own recruitment activities."
Kaiser’s appointment was announced on November 13 along with former AAPT consultant and British Telecom technology division manager, Claire Rawlins, as NBNco CIO.
“Both Kaiser and Rawkins bring a depth of functional experience to NBNco as the company continues to design and build a very large and very complex engineering project,” NBNco CEO, Mike Quigley, said in a statement.