Hackett brings social equity focus to NBN Co

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Hackett brings social equity focus to NBN Co
Simon Hackett.

Urges community benefit outlook.

Internet entrepreneur Simon Hackett has revealed that his desire for social equity was a key reason behind accepting a role on the board of NBN Co.

Speaking at an event in Adelaide late last year — for which audio was released this morning, Hackett outlined his reasons for resigning from iiNet to take up the board role.

"I'm doing that because I'm conceited enough to believe that twenty years of skills that I've learned in the past [at Internode] can be applied in the future to try to produce more social equity and that's something that I happen to care about," he said.

"I happen to believe that that next big utility, that next big way of connecting to our homes and our businesses beyond power, water, gas and sewerage – that next set of 'pipes' – can be tremendously important to us if they are available to everyone, if they work properly, and if they cost the same for everyone.

"They're actually things that have a social equity."

Hackett used the theme of the evening — ancestry — to draw comparisons with the work he hoped to undertake at NBN Co.

He said he hoped the NBN "can be a part of the 'ancestry' of this country in its future".

"That's a positive [ancestry] for all of us," he said. "It lets us do new things in our future that weren't possible in our past".

Hackett challenged others to invest time in projects that are capable of leaving "a good result behind" rather than simply serving a personal need.

His comments come on the same day as the SMART Infrastructure Facility made a submission to the Productivity Commission's infrastructure inquiry, urging more community focus in major infrastructure investments.

The submission (pdf) — among other recommendations — urges government to "place 'outcomes' at the centre of infrastructure procurement.

"Infrastructure assets and services have a very privileged and intimate role to play in our society, because they provide the platform for conducting modern life. For example water for living, energy for growth and employment and technology for connection and coordination," SMART argues.

"Shifting the focus of infrastructure from its physical attributes to the services it is intended to deliver is a critical reform that will require a different procurement approach and culture of planning within government.

"The dividend of this reform, however, will better reflect the community's expectations and help justify the investment and disruption caused during construction."

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