Wednesday, 17 April 2019 10:46

Call for NBN Co board to quit over ‘failure to deliver’ on core mission Featured

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Commpete, the former Competitive Carriers Coalition, has called for the resignation of the board of NBN Co, the company rolling out the Australian national broadband network, accusing it of comprehensively failing in its core mission, including driving a more competitive telecommunications sector.

Commpete says the board should resign to allow an incoming government to save the project.

According to Commpete, the massive public investment in building the NBN was predicated on the understanding it would transform Australian communications markets, and this was “not just, or even primarily, about transformative technology”.

“It was about driving a more competitive telecommunications sector to end the raw deal consumers have suffered for years due to inadequate competition,” Commpete chair Michelle Lim said.

“Creating a separate, national, wholesale only access network removed the biggest barrier to competition: creating a level playing field to allow competitors equal access to customers.

“But the evidence is now in that NBN has failed to deliver against the core objective," Lim said.

Lim cited market share data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission showing the proportion of NBN connections to challenger retailers has flatlined at below 7%.  

And Lim says the goal should be “30% market share to challenger retailers”.

“Even more damning than this record of failure is the complete silence from NBN about how it is going to change to fulfil its core mission of lifting competition.

“The board has presided over this complacency and now must take responsibility for it.”

Lim said Commpete believed the NBN board had demonstrated no appreciation of the problem, “let alone any imagination in how to promote bold action to reverse it, and should let new blood take over”.

“The NBN is the most important Australian infrastructure project of the past 50 years because it is about so much more than just a piece of infrastructure.

“It is about affordable, innovative, responsive communications markets capable of making Australia the world’s leading digitally economy.

“Without a refreshed and passionate new vision, there is a risk more than $40 billion will have been spent for nothing.

“The board should now allow a refresh of the project to commence immediately to achieve the original competition goals.”

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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