Hypocritical Turnbull Strikes Again Over Quigley

NBN Co, the company building Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN), this morning announced that founding CEO Mike Quigley, would be retiring from that position, after initially coming out of retirement in 2009 to head up the company.

“NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley today announced that he will retire from corporate life after four years leading the team that is building and operating Australia’s National Broadband Network.”

Note the specific use of the wording that “he will retire from corporate life“.

Malcolm Turnbull, the opposition communications spokesperson, and number one Quigley critic, was straight onto the front foot:

“Revolving doors at #NBN Co just as there are in the Labor caucus. How can project be a success when CEO gets fired?”

Note the specific use of the wording of “CEO gets fired“.

Nowhere in the NBN Co statement does it say Quigley was fired. Turnbull has zero evidence that Quigley was fired, and as such shouldn’t have said it.

Moreover, it has been Turnbull who has been after Quigley’s head on a platter ever since Tony Abbott famously ordered Turnbull to “demolish the NBN” when he became opposition communications spokesperson in 2010.

It is the height of hypocrisy for Turnbull to claim Quigley was “fired” – (which of course he wasn’t) – when it is what Turnbull has wanted all along.

Here on his own website, Turnbull claims Quigley wasn’t the right person for the job:

JOURNALIST: What about Mike Quigley, would you sack him?”

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We have not made any comments about that other than to say, and I’ve said it before and I have no regrets in saying that and I don’t back away from it, that I don’t think Mr Quigley was the right choice to be chief executive of this project because it is essentially a big construction project and while he has worked for a vendor, for Alcatel, and has sold a lot of equipment to people who have been building networks he’s never in his career been responsible for building a network or been responsible for running a telco. And that’s a fact.”

In April, Turnbull signalled “considerable changes” to the NBN Co board, should the opposition come to power in the upcoming federal election:

“”So yes I expect there will be considerable changes in the management level. As far as the board is concerned, I think you can assume there will be very considerable changes there.””

Given that he doesn’t “think Mr Quigley was the right choice to be chief executive”, it is not an unreasonable leap to conclude that the removal of Mike Quigley would have been part of the “considerable changes in the management level” of NBN Co.

The bottom line here is, Turnbull would have sought to remove Quigley from NBN Co, the moment he got his backside into the ministerial seat at DBCDE in the event of a Coalition win at the election.

That is, he would have fired him.

Yet he points out in a tweet of how unstable it makes NBN Co look by “firing” the CEO.

Hypocritical and disingenuous all the way.

Now, it is quite possible – (and in fact, likely) – that the ongoing political pressure with respect to the NBN project may have forced Quigley’s hand. Where has the majority of that political pressure been coming from?

Malcolm Turnbull.

It’s fair to say that Malcolm has gotten his way, but the grubby tactics from a man with far less credentials in communications, networks, and infrastructure delivery than Quigley have to be pointed out. Turnbull has taken down a good man for political points, and he should be ashamed.

But he won’t be.

Of course, the retirement of Quigley should not be a shock, given NBN Co has been actively involved in a search for a new CEO for some time:

“NBN Co chairwoman Siobhan McKenna has hired headhunter Egon Zehnder to find a replacement for chief executive Mike Quigley, sources close to the company say.”

Quigley didn’t come out of retirement in the first place just for the money, given his donation of his first $2 million annual salary to charity:

“He was independently wealthy after a long and successful career in the global telecommunications industry, but he took the job anyway, partly to move back to his native Australia. But he made it clear yesterday he still doesn’t need the taxpayer-funded salary that comes with it, donating his entire first-year pay cheque of $2 million to aid research into brain diseases and stroke rehabilitation.”

Given his 60 years, Quigley would likely have stepped down long before the 2021 NBN completion date, but a decent and honourable man has been shot down.

Enjoy your retirement Mike.