Tuesday, 07 March 2017 19:34

Morrow unfit to head NBN Co, says senior academic Featured

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NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow's attacks on his critics during a Senate Estimates hearing, labelling them as trolls, mischievous and disrespectful, shows clearly why he is unfit to head the company and should resign, a senior academic says.

Mark Gregory, an associate professor in the School of Engineering at RMIT University and a commentator who does not mince his words, said while discussing NBN Co's social media policy, Morrow had made several comments that were "plainly unacceptable for someone at the helm of a government business enterprise".

In an article for InnovationAus.com, Gregory said over the last six months Morrow had made many false and misleading statements in the media, denigrated anyone who had been critical of the NBN and at Senate Estimates had exceeded the limit for a highly-paid head of such an enterprise.

Gregory pointed out that the NBN had begun as a nation-building project but had been overshadowed by negative political influence, especially since the 2013 federal election.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield should ask Morrow to publicly apologise, he said, adding that the minister should at least take ownership of the NBN Co chief's "blatant politicking".

As an example of Morrow's behaviour at the hearing, Gregory wrote: "Responding to a question from Senator Scott Ludlam about reports that NBN Co has blocked people on social media 'offering feedback or critical comment', Morrow stated that if people are 'mischievous, if they’re insultive, disrespectful we block them … some of them deserve to be blocked Senator'.

"Senator Ludlam responded 'some of them probably don’t' and that the NBN Co people monitoring social media may be a little 'oversensitive'. How true."

Gregory said he was one of the people who had been blocked by the NBN Co on Twitter. "I estimate that I responded to about 10% of NBN Co’s posts over the past six months, and this was clearly too much for the fickle and overly sensitive NBN Co," he wrote.

"NBN Co is acting like an immature child, one that has no idea how to react when someone tells it something it does not want to hear, other than to lash out and attempt to bully its detractors."

Criticising the rollout, Gregory said NBN Co would face significant threats in coming years as 5G was rolled out as the fibre to the node technology was obsolete and could not compete.

He contrasted this with what had happened in New Zealand where an all-fibre policy had been adopted and the country was now seeing the benefits.

"It is important to note that statements by the government that FttP would have cost $30 billion more and taken 10 years longer to complete are false, misleading and ministers that spruik this nonsense are only making themselves look like dills," Gregory wrote.

"Malcolm Turnbull’s NBN is a lemon. It is already obsolete. Australians will be required to pay for the NBN all over again in the 2020s as the current network is being built to satisfy today’s demands, and not tomorrow’s."

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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