Internet service providers (ISPs) say they believe Federal Communications Minister and Right factional power broker, Stephen Conroy, has cemented his position in the wake of Julia Gillard’s post to the Prime Ministerial seat.
Service providers praised Conroy for his work on the on the National Broadband Network (NBN) and said they hoped the “NBN-minister” retained the communications portfolio in the event of a Cabinet reshuffle.
Telstra chief executive officer, David Thodey, is understood to be writing personally to congratulate Gillard on her appointment and in a statement said the telco looked forward to working with her and her government.
Optus spokesman Maha Krishnapallai said the telco was “absolutely enthusiastic about Stephen Conroy coming through on outstanding issues”.
But directors of some of Australia’s largest ISPs have called for the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to be carved up.
“The NBN is big enough on its own,” said one regulatory chief at a large telco on the condition of anonymity.
“Conroy should handle the NBN, but the rest of ICT could be better run by [Labor backbencher] Kate Lundy.
“Though we are very happy with his performance. If you asked me two years ago that we would have the ACCC onside, Telstra voluntarily split and the NBN on track, I’d say you were dreaming.”
One ISP source claimed the $11 billion deal between the Federal Government, NBN Co, and Telstra on Sunday “saved” the NBN.
Lundy was pointed to by many industry sources as a competent ICT minister.
“She gets ICT. She understands the benefit of IT, she knows how people use IT and why, and she can explain that to non-technical people,” one executive said.
Another director of a large network company described Lundy as “the best communications minister we never had”.
Gillard is also IT-savvy, according to sources, who claim e-health will get a “boot in the arse” under the former deputy PM.