House debates

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Questions without Notice

Mr Mike Kaiser

2:46 pm

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Casey, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the appointment of former Queensland ALP secretary Mike Kaiser to a $450,000-a-year job at the National Broadband Network at the suggestion of his Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, a job that was not advertised. How is this consistent with the Prime Minister’s statement of 3 August 2008:

… the Government believes in practising a new way of governing that is more transparent, more accountable …

Does the Prime Minister stand by the actions of his minister—yes or no?

Photo of Kevin RuddKevin Rudd (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Both the government and I have full confidence in NBN Co. and full confidence in the minister. The first point I would make in response to the honourable member’s question is that the decision to appoint Mr Kaiser to this position was taken independently by NBN Co. Secondly, I am advised that NBN Co., through Mr Quigley, has told estimates that a selection process was undertaken and that Mr Kaiser was interviewed three times before being appointed, twice by NBN Co.’s head of human resources and once by Mr Quigley himself. Furthermore, the CEO of NBN Co., Mr Quigley, has said that, following industry practice, senior roles at NBN Co. have been sourced through a combination of searches by recruitment firms and referrals. Mr Quigley told Senate estimates that 40 per cent of NBN Co.’s staff had been hired on a referral basis. That is the approach which applies to this particular appointment.

On the question of appointing people of ability, whatever their past political experience, before those opposite whip themselves up into a frenzy over this one, can I remind them that this government has appointed Peter Costello, on the basis of merit, to a position on the Future Fund; we have appointed Brendan Nelson as our ambassador in Brussels, on the basis of ability; we have appointed Tim Fischer as Ambassador to the Holy See, on the basis of ability; and I think we have even appointed Arthur Sinodinos to something as well. We believe in merit based appointments and we have full confidence in the minister and in NBN Co.’s handling of this matter.