Mike Quigley has announced that we will retire as chief executive of NBN Co.
After four years at the helm of the organisation tasked will rolling-out the national broadband network, the former Alcatel executive has decided to retire for a second time from corporate life.
His departure comes amidst widespread speculation that the NBN Co board - led by Siobhan McKenna - has been campaigning for him to resign the post.
The Australian Financial Review reported in May that McKenna - appointed in March - had sounded out other board members about Quigley’s future at the company, after she pledged to assume a more hands-on role.
“The Directors are proud of Mike’s achievements and welcome his decision to remain in post to ensure a smooth transition to his successor, ” McKenna said today in a statement from NBN Co.
Quigley’s resignation follows the departure of former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy this month, a result of the federal leadership coup which saw Kevin Rudd re-appointed prime minister.
Conroy had been a strong supporter of Quigley in the role as NBN Co chief, having appointed him in the position upon the company’s inception in 2009.
NBN Co and Quigley have faced intense criticism over the ability of both to manage the rollout of the national broadband network on time and on budget.
Pressure over rollout
The company has been forced to reduce its rollout target on several occasions due to contractor issues in several states, and was also forced to halt works after contractors from Telstra were found to have been mishandling asbestos.
In March, NBN Co downgraded its rollout forecast to between 190,000 and 220,000 premises passed with fibre by the end of June - a drop of around 40 percent on the previous forecast of 341,000 set last August. In 2010, 1.3 million passed premises had been forecast.
It achieved the target, passing 207,500 premises.
NBN Co took back NBN works in the Northern Territory off its contractor Syntheo, a joint venture between Lend Lease and Service Stream, in May 2013 after blaming the contractor for a reduction in its forecast premises passed, from 300,000 provided last October to 286,000.
Quigley also oversaw the recent asbestos scandal plaguing the national broadband rollout, after it was revealed the material had been mishandled by Telstra staff at sites in NSW and Victoria, with further asbestos breaches discovered at three NBN worksites in Queensland.
The discovery forced a stop work for around a month while Telstra completed an urgent audit and put its contractors and subcontractors through "further training" on asbestos handling techniques.
Search for a successor
New communications minister Anthony Albanese issued a joint statement with finance minister and NBN shareholder minister Penny Wong thanking Quigley for his contribution to the NBN project.
"Mr Quigley also understands, intuitively, what all good infrastructure builders know: you do it once and you do it right," the statement said.
Quigley will stay in the CEO role until his successor is appointed. Then he will return to a retirement that was put on hold when he became NBN Co’s founding CEO.
Quigley was paid $1.97 million last year.
Additional reporting by Allie Coyne