Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has appointed three telecoms veterans to the board of the company charged with building Australia's national broadband network, one of whom owns a significant number of Telstra shares, while another had left NBN Co on unceremonious terms.
The three new non-executive directors appointed to NBN Co's board are Patrick Flannigan, Simon Hackett and Justin Milne. They join board members Ziggy Switkowski, Alison Lansley and Kerry Schott.
As recently reported by Fairfax Media, Mr Milne owns $1.5 million worth of shares in Telstra and was believed to have been made an NBN Co consultant before Tuesday's appointment.
A spokesman for Mr Turnbull said Mr Milne had "already started moves to get rid of [the shares]". However, with the appointment effective immediately, Mr Milne maintains a conflict of interest given the NBN Co board would be expected to approve any changes to the multibillion-dollar deal with Telstra. Mr Milne also sits on the Tabcorp board with NBN Co executive chairman Dr Switkowski and was a former chief executive of OzEmail. He started working at OzEmail shortly before Mr Turnbull sold his stake in the company.
Mr Milne is the fourth ex-Telstra executive to be appointed by Mr Turnbull. Telstra's former director of media, J.B. Rousselot, was appointed NBN Co's head of strategy and transformation on October 23. And last week NBN Co announced that ex-Telstra executive Greg Adcock would become its chief operating officer.
Mr Adcock was on Telstra's negotiating team when it struck its $11 billion deal with NBN Co.
One of the other appointees, Mr Flannigan, previously joined NBN Co as the company's head of construction in 2009, where he managed the company's network construction and relationships with major contractors. But he later resigned in 2011 on unceremonious terms just days after the government-owned enterprise was forced to suspend its building tenders because of higher than expected costs. At the time, NBN Co said it was "disappointed" he was leaving.