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Reason Gladys can’t be Optus CEO

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There are calls for former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian to step in as Optus chief.

Doubts continue to swirl around the idea of former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian taking over the top job at Optus after its chief executive resigned.

The embattled telecommunications company’s former chief Kelly Bayer Rosmarin announced she was stepping down on Monday after overseeing two major crises in just 13 months.

Optus’ parent company Singtel has launched a global search for her replacement, but some are suggesting that they won’t have to look far, with Ms Berejiklian currently working for the company.

NCA NewsWire understands that the former premier has flagged her interest in the role after becoming responsible for managing the company’s business customers in early 2022.

ICAC SYDNEY
Despite voicing her interest in the role, Gladys Berejiklian is unlikely to take over as Optus chief executive. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
Optus CEO Senate Inquiry
Former Optus chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin resigned on Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

However, any decision to promote Ms Berejiklian could be seen as risky after she was found to have engaged in serious corrupt conduct by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) over her involvement with former partner Daryl Maguire, then MP for Wagga Wagga.

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Despite Ms Berejiklian appealing the findings, many are saying the ICAC rulings mean that she is unlikely to be considered for the top job.

Despite saying the decision would ultimately fall with the Optus board, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young cast doubt on Ms Berejiklian’s ability to come into the role, saying she wanted someone who “understands that we need better regulation and work with the government, not against them”.

“I think Gladys will have to get some other things off her desk before she steps forward,” she said on Tuesday.

“What I want to see is somebody who puts the public interest first, is honest and has integrity.”

Ms Berejiklian has remained silent on the matter, ignoring reporters’ questions on Tuesday as she made her way to work.

Optus chief financial officer Michael Venter has assumed the role of interim chief executive as Singtel looks for a replacement for Ms Bayer Rosmarin, with many saying he could take over the top job.

Optus CEO Senate Inquiry
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Optus would need someone ‘who puts the public interest first’ to step into the role. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Ms Bayer Rosmarin’s resignation comes under two weeks after a nationwide Optus blackout left 10 million Australians without phone or internet access for more than 12 hours.

More than 400,000 businesses were left unable to accept payments due to the blackout and transport and health services were thrown into chaos after the country’s second biggest telco went dark about 4am.

The company and its then chief executive were slammed for their failure to communicate with customers as the hours ticked on the outage, with Communications Minister Michelle Rowland expressing her frustration with the national telco as it happened.

“Optus have not given a precise timeframe. They have assured that they are working as quickly as possible but I reiterate that it is important for Optus to keep customers updated and in a timely way because this is precisely the questions that customers are asking,” she said.

“I think Optus needs to make sure that they step up and communicate with people because as I understand this started in the early hours of this morning.”

Senator Hanson-Young said any replacement would need to be more communicative with the public.

“Whoever takes it on really needs to restore trust, be a good communicator, and understand that at the end of the day you are offering an essential service,” she said.

“We need a total overhaul of the regulations of these big telecommunications companies … every part of our daily lives is impacted if we can’t use our mobile phone or internet data.”