As the red mist clears and Julia Gillard assumes the top job in politics, many of the anti-filter crowd are hoping that pro-choice Senator, Kate Lundy, will take out the more divisive Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy. But they shouldn’t hold their breath.
On paper, the case looks good for Lundy to take on one of Australian tech’s most important portfolios. The Senator has demonstrated a granular and balanced view of the IT industry and communications issues and has plenty of experience in the IT stream.
Her opposition to the mandatory ISP filter has generally been in line with popular opinion. Proof of this came from an unlikely source when the nominally conservative National Party voted to oppose the policy by a strong majority, citing it as one of regional Australia’s most discussed issues.
By contrast Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has been caught out exaggerating support of the filter while facing opposition from US ambassador to Australia, Jeff Bleich, and IT giants such as Microsoft and Google.
Pundits that are hoping for change also point out that Gillard and Lundy are both in Labor’s Left faction, whereas Conroy was formerly a powerbroker for the Right faction and had the close support of Kevin Rudd.
But it’s important to note that Rudd was toppled after the Right faction backed Gillard. Whether she’ll admit it or not, the new Prime Minister will not be able to provide a bevy of ministerial positions to Left faction – and knocking down ministers this close to an election will rock an already shaky boat.
Another thing pointing in Conroy’s favour is the fact that despite the slings and arrows directed at him from many in the public, he’s done a firm job with most of his portfolio.
Convincing Telstra to split itself in two was always going to be a hard sell, but Conroy recently pulled it off by using a hefty stick and an $11 billion carrot.
This has paved the way for the National Broadband Network to move ahead. While the Liberal Party has continuously attacked the NBN and questioned its need and high cost, the IT industry is largely in step with the Government on the issue.
Last, but not least, is the fact that Senator Lundy’s partner is Competitive Carrier’s Coalition (CCC) director, David Forman. The CCC is a lobby group that represents a wide range of telco companies that normally stand against Telstra in a very effective manner.
While this will more than likely have zero to little impact on Lundy’s performance as a Minister, the perception of bias would provide the opposition with ammunition at a time when Labor is fighting for its political survival.
Although senior politicians from all sides of politics have told ARN of their respect for Lundy’s abilities and gumption, few predict she’ll get the job. Instead, they predict she’ll enjoy a gradual ascent to a parliamentary secretary or junior cabinet ministerial position.
In other words, not yet.