Optus CEO exit a ‘sacrifice for reputation gods’

ACMA has commenced legal action against Optus for a major cyberattack.

ACMA has commenced legal action against Optus for a major cyberattack. Photo: AAP

A “blame culture” behind Optus boss Kelly Bayer Rosmarin quitting the telco doesn’t necessarily benefit the wider community.

In the wake of the November 8 outage that left millions of Australians without access to the internet or cell service, Bayer Rosmarin quit on Monday and said it was in the best interests of Optus.

But that’s been disputed by two prominent figures including National Anti-Corruption Commission head Paul Brereton, who says the need to take a major scalp after a scandal is “part of the problem”.

“Who is going to benefit from the resignation of Optus’ chief executive?” he told the National Public Sector Governance Forum on Tuesday.

“I don’t see that Optus is going to benefit from that in any operational sense. Reputationally, there’s been a sacrifice to the gods if you like, but that’s about all there is.

“If we recognise mistakes will happen, accept responsibility for them, put things right rather than just going to find a scapegoat, we will do a lot to improve culture in the public service.”

Australia’s triple-zero call network has come into focus after the outage prevented hundreds of people making emergency calls.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission chair Joseph Longo acknowledged the telco’s crisis plan was lacking, but agreed making mistakes was part of the game.

“The community doesn’t expect things to go perfectly all the time, but when they don’t go well and they have a major impact on the community … it’s absolutely essential the communication of what is going to be done … is clear, it’s comprehensive, and it’s quick,” he told ABC radio.

Monash University strategy and international business professor Mariano Heyden said Bayer Rosmarin’s resignation was necessary, adding more must be done to win back Australians’ confidence.

“The old adage rings true for the resignation of Bayer Rosmarin: heads must roll,” he said.

“Repairing public trust in Optus cannot solely be achieved by simply changing the CEO – rather, it also needs to be a by-product of authentic change in the way they conduct business.”

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the chief executive’s decision to stand down showed leadership.

“We need to make sure we’re putting the rights of the public, the public interest, first and foremost. These are essential services, not just some luxury,” she told ABC TV on Tuesday.

During a Senate inquiry into the Optus outage, it was revealed 228 emergency calls were unable to go through and the telco still does not know why.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has independently begun an assessment to investigate Optus’s compliance with rules on emergency calls.

The rules cover such obligations as conducting welfare checks on people making unsuccessful emergency calls during an outage and providing access to emergency call services.


Topics: Optus
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