Former communications minister Stephen Conroy backed Julia Gillard for Prime Minister Peter Braig
The chief executives of Australia's biggest telecommunications companies have called on the next communications minister to make key changes to Labor's national broadband network before the next election.
On Wednesday night former communications minister Stephen Conroy followed through with his pledge to quit his role if Kevin Rudd regained leadership of the Labor Party.
Telstra chief executive David Thodey described the senator as "a tough negotiator."
"While we did not always agree with the way he wanted to achieve this vision, we ended up working well together and I respect his abilities," he said. "He has an incredible ability to get things done and we shared his vision for the enormous benefits that will come from a high speed national broadband network.
"His Ministry will be remembered for the NBN, his enthusiasm and his absolute commitment to the role."
iiNet chief executive Michael Malone said Senator Conroy's departure represented an opportunity for Labor to change small but vitally important aspects of the national broadband network.
He said adopting the Coalition's favoured approach for bringing broadband to apartments, which installs fibre to the basement instead of every single unit, would save a large amount of time and money.
"This is something [many people support] but NBN Co was given a directive not to from the government," he said. "The positive out of [Prime Minister Kevin] Rudd's speech last night is he said he'd reach out to business, although there'll be some scepticism about that from the community.
"I think there was a complete lack of consultation ... and so it all became a bit of a debacle."
Vodafone chief executive Bill Morrow described Senator Conroy as courageous in his pursuit of industry change.
"Senator Conroy has played a pivotal role in solving long-standing structural problems in the industry and has laid the foundations for continued telecommunications reform in this country," he said. "[He] has begun a shift that will change the telecommunications industry for the better."
Speculation on which senior politician will take over the Communications portfolio is rife with several key candidates being mooted including Simon Crean and Anthony Albanese.
While many in the telecommunications industry have told The Australian Financial Review that ACT Senator Kate Lundy is the most qualified for the role, she has publicly backed Julia Gillard over Kevin Rudd on several occasions.
Earlier this month Senator Conroy admitted to making "plenty of mistakes" during his time as Minister but defended his legacy and said he'd achieved significant change in difficult times.
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