news The founding chief executive of the NBN company, Mike Quigley will publicly discuss the history of the National Broadband Network as well as the various options for its future, in a major speech to be held just over a week before this year’s Federal Election on 2 July.
Quigley, an engineer by background and a former senior executive at French networking firm Alcatel (now part of Nokia) was appointed to lead the NBN company from April 2009, when it was created by the then-Rudd Labor administration, with a mandate to deliver a near-universal Fibre to the Premises network, supported by satellite and wireless technology in rural areas.
The executive then led the NBN company until the 2013 Federal Election. At that point Quigley retired.
Throughout his period leading the NBN company, Quigley emerged as a strongly positive force pushing the virtues of the FTTP technology which Labor set as the initial model for the NBN.
During the 2010 election campaign, for example, Quigley strongly attacked the Coalition’s rival NBN policy, which would have seen the NBN project largely abandoned.
And throughout the years since, including after the Coalition took power in 2013, the executive has remained strongly in favour of the original Labor model for the NBN.
In November 2015, for example, Quigley released an extraordinarily detailed and highly referenced document analysing the NBN company’s costs, to back up a claim he had made at the time that an up-to-$15 billion blowout in the cost of the NBN was due to the controversial Multi-Technology Mix approach imposed on the project by the Coalition.
The University of Melbourne has now revealed that Quigley will give a free public lecture on 22 June on its campus, in collaboration with the Telecommunications Society of Australia which Quigley has previously collaborated with.
The event promotion states:
“Only three short years ago, the National Broadband Network was a main focus of the federal election as each major party campaigned their vision of Australia’s connected future. This coming federal election has seen less talk of the NBN perhaps as Australians have become disillusioned over promises made versus what has been rolled out.”
“Yet the impact of the NBN on the future of Australia’s connectivity, technological developments, and networked society remains an important topic.”
“In this free public lecture, Mike Quigley, NBN Co’s first employee and CEO from July 2009 to September 2013, will reflect on the ups and downs of the NBN project during the last seven years. He will then consider the pros and cons of the various options to complete the NBN.”
Quigley’s intervention in this year’s Federal Election campaign comes as it remains unclear to what extent the NBN will be a key issue in this year’s poll.
Earlier this month, Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said she had seen “incredible” interest in the National Broadband Network issue as she travelled around Australia on the election campaign trail, delivering Labor’s message that Malcolm Turnbull had “dropped the ball” on the project.
And the NBN shot into the headlines over the past several weeks following the revelations that the Australian Federal Police had raided the offices of Labor Senator Stephen Conroy and the home of a Labor staffer, seeking to track down NBN whistleblowers leaking sensitive internal documents.
The NBN was again in the headlines over the weekend, after current NBN chair Ziggy Switkowski published an extraordinary defence of the company’s actions.
Labor has written to the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Martin Parkinson, requesting that he investigate what Labor said was a breach of the Caretaker Conventions during the Federal Election.
However, the NBN was barely mentioned during last night’s hour-long debate between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, indicating that neither felt it was an issue they wanted to bring up.
I have a deep and abiding respect for Mike Quigley, and I know that many readers do as well. I would encourage anyone who is available in Melbourne to attend this talk. I will personally be attempting to attend, time permitting.
Image credit: NBN company