The Australian ICT industry has little to gain from the Liberal Party and is likely to get behind the Labor Party and Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, according to AIIA CEO, Ian Birks.
The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) is a leading ICT industry lobby group.
“At the moment the ICT industry would be quite partisan and would provide strong support for the Labor Party,” he said. “There isn’t really a clear alternative. Once there is one then we’ll have to evaluate it and it may lead to a different assessment.
“The current policy position of the opposition doesn’t recognise the critical position that the Digital Economy will play in the future… by not supporting the rapid rollout of ubiquitous high-speed broadband they’re not providing the key underpinning from which everything else will flow.”
Birks said the Opposition lacked an understanding of how important the IT industry and its products are to any viable society. He expected the Labor Party to the bigger spender when it comes to Government procurement of IT hardware and services.
“If the Opposition is that it wants to reduce the size of Government then there is an implicit position that says it will spend less on IT,” he said “The key issue is to understand the role technology has in underpinning a better society and economy and the Opposition doesn’t really have that clearly as their platform at the moment.
“It is a concern that we have not seen a clearly stated Opposition policy in this area but I understand one is being developed.”
Birks also disliked the Coalition’s use of the National Broadband Network as an example of financial mismanagement.
“It undermines confidence in the digital economy and the value of infrastructure,” he said. “The danger is that people who only have a limited understanding of what can be achieved are likely to view this as a negative issue and therefore the whole thing will catch a cold.”
But the Coalition is talking with various industry bodies with Birks claiming Shadow Minister, Tony Smith’s, office had contacted him about having a meeting on key issues.
Former Optus executive, Paul Fletcher, is now a member of the Liberal Party and has met with the AIIA and other industry bodies to canvass opinions for a Coalition policy.
“He generally understands the positive role our industry can play so I feel confident he’s a good person in that sense,” Birks said.
According to a spokesperson for Shadow Minister, Tony Smith, the Coalition would not shy away from criticising the estimated maximum cost of the NBN or describing it as a reckless and risky adventure.
"We won't respond to speculation about what may or may not be in the Coalition's broadband policy," the spokesperson said in a statement. "During the course of the campaign the Coalition will outline a responsible alternative policy to deliver fast, reliable and affordable broadband, as well as other related policies."