yARN: Why Kate Lundy won’t get Stephen Conroy’s job

Despite many in the anti-filter movement predicting the imminent demise of Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, he’s going nowhere fast

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.

Tags Stephen ConroySenator Kate Lundymandatory ISP filerCompetitive Carrier’s Coalition (CCC)Communications MinisterTelstra

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23 Comments

Michael Wyres

1

AS much as I (and many) hope that Conroy does lose the portfolio, and your points as to why he may keep it are certainly very sound - as the last week in politics has ably demonstrated, politics is a funny game. It is certainly true that Gillard has risen to the Prime Ministership with a lot of help from the Labor Right. Unquestioned. But one must keep in mind why the spill occurred in the first place. Rudd, and his policy direction was becoming increasingly unpopular publicly, and Rudd's support of the mandatory filtering policy must surely fit into this category, so if Gillard is SERIOUS about cleaning up public opinion, the removal of Conroy from DBCDE has to be a very real consideration. Undoubtedly, he's done an excellent job in the NBN process and getting Telstra to the table. However, how much of that was his good work, and the $9B he was offering Telstra or the $2B more Rudd waltzed in and brought to the table at the last minute to get them over the line? Conroy needs to drop back into a new NBN-specific portfolio, and leave the real policy that effects the industry to someone with some REAL knowledge of the industry, and some ability to actually LISTEN to constituents. Conroy is NOT this person. Lundy, at this stage, is certainly that person.

tom

2

Thank you David for a good assessment of the politics. I agree with much you say Michael but you seem to be beholden to the critics view.
I believe the real choice came down to who will handle the job. Gillard seems to be improving al the time and who would want Conroy's job! I think Senator Lundy would be a much softer target and would fall into the critics hands.You and I differ on fundamentals.
One is sometimes led to think factionalism is a Labour trait but as happened to the last opposition leader the coalition is just the same. The only difference is that Labour admit the truth of their range of personalities, the coalition deny it.

Kevmeister

3

All Labor has to do is kill off the filter policy - I don't care if Conroy keeps the portfolio or not. Gillard might be able to get the "win" people want to see whilst not having the Right factions get their nose out of joint [too much].

Harquebus

4

When the compulsory filter and data retention plans are dropped, I will drop my plans to vote Labor last.

Duke

5

Its simple, Conroy keeps NBN, Lundy gets the rest...or thousands of Labotr voters in marginal seats like me will bail on them.

Peter

6

Well if this is the case then there is no change from me either. I'll still be voting Labour out at the next election and nothing will have been gained by Labours 'shuffle'. You'd think they'd learn.

Sam

7

If PM Gillard intends changing any Policies as a means to regain support for Labor's re-election, most would cost funds eg. dumping the RSP tax, comitting to ETS, etc.

But it would cost absolutely nothing, zero, to dump the stupid pointless Net Filter, and would actually free up its funds for other useful programs. You'd think it'd be a 'no-brainer' to scrap it.

But if they don't, I'll still be putting Labor last regardless of any other of its Policies.

paleoflatus

8

As Bertrand Russell pointed out many years ago, authority (power) has no value unless it's used to thwart people. We're clearly in the hands of the Labour POWER brokers - hence net censorship and surveillance, as well as newer moves such as government restrictions on the appearance of models and the range of clothing to be advertised and sold etc.
Power corrupts and this lot set dangerous precedents for Australia.

davis

9

I disagree with this assessment because it only looks at keeping or removing Conroy in the context of Communications.

He's very much in line for promotion. Finance Minister being the role I envisage.

Phil

10

@davis, that's an interesting comment. But would ALP move him out of the Comms role (which is a very high position with lots of exposure) this late in the game?

Also, would Lundy be good for Finance? Or not enough experience?

Jobst

11

Ms. Gillard has to ONLY stop the filter to get back voters, Conroy (dear I say this) has MOSTLY done a good job, his stupidity hanging on to the filter coloured the rest of hist work ...

bris

12

I am really pleased Gillard is in the seat however as others have said, get rid of the filter or we will get rid of Labour. Simple

Shane

13

You can't provide Conroy with too much credit over the Telstra deal. Telstra has been more and more willing to play ball ever since Sol left. This was part of a few factors in making them willing to jump in on this.

ezra

14

bris, will the massed voters that turned up for the melb and syd protests be the ones that get rid of labor?

One third of them are not old enough to vote. Take two thirds of 21 at each protest and that is 28 votes.

Now take all the voters that figure the NBN is important, add the people that applaud the first govt to ever actually regulate Telstra and the filter stays where is belongs in comparison, and you have a winning ticket again.

Lundy has all the appearance of being a great person, seeks compromise. But she is a political lightweight today and has not shown that she can stand withered attack before wilting.

That will probably come with time, but not yet. Conroy on the other hand drives some people nuts with his execution, but he does not budge in the face of sustained attack, ignores the crap that is thrown at him, ignores the massive personal attacks and fixed the NBN and Tesltra in the meantime.

No PM in their right mind would move him out of that job today.

Chris

15

@ezra. No, the voters who will wipe out the Labor Government are the 99 percent of 88,645 people who voted in recent opinion polls such as the one by Sydney Morning Herald.
See for yourself: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/filter-goes-ahead-regardless-20100529-wmg7.html .

Then there's the more than 100,000 who signed onto Getup and the 20,000 who signed a recent Senate Petition tabled in Parliament.

There's no point in protestors marching down some street to fight an issue like this.

Peter

16

There is a very basic reason why Kate Lundy won't get Stephen Conroy's job - she's bloody hopeless! I say that from personal experience when I worked in Government.

ezra

17

Chris, are you talking about a real poll or a newspaper poll? An authenticated one-vote-person-poll or a let's-just-keep-clicking-on-this-dumb-button-poll?

If 100,000 sigs is all Getup can get, knowing that the majority of their members have voted for it plus the already active anti-filter crowd, then you are missing approx 4 million votes to oust the ALP.

Good luck with that, and you might want to look at the authenticated, validated polling from the last few days. The polled there were not able to click on the link 1000 times each and vote the poll to a subjective death m8.

Marty

18

Well with Conroy still in the drivers seat on the filter, nomatter what they do now Labor have lost my vote. Removing or deviding Conroys portfolio into two would have sufficed but now not only do we have Conroy and filter intact but we have Rudd returning in the new year meaning same same same, three more years of learching from one situation to the next..

Tom Brown

19

Chris:
I looked for that poll but your link sent me to SMH article about it with no detail about where it was placed and how it was presented that I could find. The journalist Sarah Whyte has some interisting lnks but the one to whirlpool about this is down, I assume due to the DOS attack occurring against Whirlpool.
I am interested and would like to see how the poll was done if you can help.
Unfortunately a cleverly done poll can give false data, a good example of this was the Republic debate and vote, a put down by the last government, they did not care what people wanted they only wanted to prove (falsely) that Australians did not want a Republic.

Regards
Tom

Tom Brown

20

Attached is another link to an article from Sarah Whyte http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/games/lurching-in-protest-at-gaming-classifications-20100327-r42v.html
I find it inconsistant when she writes an article describing the failure of the current classification system for games.

Elwood

21

It is quite interesting, I have read a couple of speeches from Fabian Society members, and they do not like Conroy at all. They don't really say why, but he has apparently stiffed them a couple of times in the past. The Fabians are a lot more leftist than Conroy and his backers, so there are issues apparently. Conroy is pretty tight with the right wingers and unions, and I think Julia would be treading dangerously if she took him on. Those boys knifed Rudd quite handily, and Julia certainly isn't 'one of them' - totally different background.

Chris

22

@Tom; Here's another link to the SMH poll on the filter proposal.
http://www.smh.com.au/polls/technology/government-filtering-internet/20100529-wmo4.html

Before you start trying to discredit it, no, its not a scientific poll so anybody interested was able to vote rather than a selected statistical sample. But with an outcome as clear as 99% against vs 1% in favour I think the result speaks volumes.

Pro-censorship readers had the same freedom to sit clicking away to inflate the yes vote, so where were they all? Every poll taken on the subject has produced similar stats.

Polls Polls Polls

23

Chris, the pure and simple difference is that you are looking at defining two groups as if they had the same degree of motivation to actively campaign.

That is an error and a tactic used time and time again by marginalised groups to try and give the impression of a far greater support base.

One the one hand we have broader Australia, who are not storming the barricades to have a filter, simply because they accept and agree that some base standards are applicable. They have neither the need nor the inclination to go taking part in or megaclicking on online polls.

In fact most of them do not even read most of the articles related to the subject, cos the proposed policy is agreeable to them and causes them neither concern nor protest at all.

What you have on the other side, with all due democratic rights, is a far smaller group that are very active, continually active, seeking whatever means they can to bring down the policy. Look at how long the ISP filtering thread is on Whirlpool, yet the group has only margianally grown and public protest is still limited.

Smaller group of people spending a lot of time at keyboards and churning out loads of blog and forum comments, actively seeking out and responding to online polls, and some of them even letting others know that they have voted xxx times on polls.

It is not hard to get a 99% response in one direction then under those circumstances.

Validated polls though show a different story.

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