Aussie minister caught up in broadband row

An Aussie cabinet minister famous for wanting to censor the internet got his mate a cushy job with an outfit that is going to construct a $43 billion broadband network.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who is the darling of those who want a Chinese style firewall for Australia, gave a recommendation to NBN that it hire Mike Kaiser as the head of government relations and external affairs.

The outfit’s chief executive, Mike Quigley, told a Senate estimates hearing yesterday that Mr Kaiser was personally recommended to him by Senator Conroy, and was appointed without other candidates being considered.

Kaiser has a bit of history behind him. He was elected to the Queensland parliament in 2000 but chose not to recontest his seat a year later after he was identified as allegedly being part of electoral registration irregularities in 1986.

Kaiser was never charged with any electoral fraud offences and Conroy wrote the whole thing off as ”youthful indiscretions”.

Quigley said Senator Conroy had told him Mr Kaiser was appropriate to fill the role. He was appointed to the $450,000 a year job which was never advertised.

Quigley said he knew about Kaiser’s past but did not mention it during the interview. We guess it is easy to forget allegations of dishonesty when your company wants a huge government contract.

Opposition communications spokesman, Tony Smith, said the revelation of Senator Conroy’s recommendation was ”absolutely staggering”.

It raises serious questions about the NBN employment and management processes and the level of political involvement and interference by the Rudd government.”

Quigley said the appointment process was legit. ”We made an assessment against what we believed the job needed to have. We’ve done that in other circumstances also.”