CeBIT Australia organizer, Jackie Taranto, has poured cold water on reports of a falling out between the trade show and the Australian Government, following NSW Premier Morris Iemma's refusal to open this year's show.
According to a report published in the Australian Financial Review this morning, Taranto had criticized what was said to be a governmental lack of leadership in building a thriving ICT industry.
But while this morning's report portrayed the souring of a five-year relationship between CeBIT and the Australian Government, insulting the government had never been her intention, Taranto told IDG in an interview this afternoon.
"What I stated wasn't totally out there; it wasn't meant in that way," she said. "They've [the NSW government] always supported and funded CeBIT Australia very strongly as an ICT event."
"We have a good relationship with the Australian Government," she said. "New South Wales [state government] has supported CeBIT from the beginning, and that's always been the strength on how we've grown the event here."
The NSW Department of State and Regional Development has remained a major sponsor of CeBIT Australia since its inception in 2002, through a partnership that involves both financial and promotional support.
The recently re-elected Iemma has declined to attend CeBIT Australia's May 1 opening in favour of a meeting with his new cabinet. His refusal will result in the first time since its launch in 2002 that CeBIT Australia is not ceremonially opened by the Premier of NSW.
Unfortunately for CeBIT organizers, this trade-show-first will coincide with another new development: the involvement of Christian Wulff, a prominent German politician with a 50 percent stake in the CeBIT's parent company, Deutsche Messe.
"It's a pretty big thing [for Deutsche Messe] to have invested in bringing CeBIT to Australia," Taranto said. "Controlling 50 percent of the interests of our organization is pretty significant, and he's [Wulff has] never been here, so it's a big thing for him to come, and he's bringing pretty serious investors here this year."
In efforts to develop relationships between Germany and Australia, Wulff has scheduled meetings with Prime Minister John Howard; Special Minister of State Gary Nairn; QLD Acting Premier Anna Bligh; and QLD Minister for Public Works, Housing and ICT, Robert Schwarten.
While confident that Wulff will meet with representatives of the NSW state government during his visit, Taranto said that CeBIT Australia is still in negotiations with Morris Iemma's office to arrange a meeting with the Premier himself.