Industry backs lobby merger

Industry backs lobby merger

Local IT players have given a thumb's up to the proposed merger of the industry's two main representative bodies.

The consensus was that pulling the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and Australian Electronic and Electrical Manufacturing Association (AEEMA) together would benefit the entire industry.

Brookstone Technologies managing director and AIIA treasurer, John Stockbridge, said a combined association would give the industry a more influential role nationally.

"Any creation of an organisation with a more powerful and effective voice means we're better equipped to influence the federal policy agenda," he said.

Data#3 general manager, Laurence Baynham, said the bigger group was a way of overcoming the fragmented nature of the IT industry.

"In particular, this will help when lobbying government, which doesn't understand the various parts of our industry and doesn't differentiate groups," he said.

While he had initially questioned the validity of the merger, Baynham said both shared a common view of promoting the needs of IT companies. This was in contrast to the Australian Computer Society, which focused on individuals, he said.

"Consolidation where it makes sense is always good news," Baynham said.

ASI Solutions director, Maree Lowe, said the joining of the two groups would also present benefits in the commercial market and help to grow local industry.

The responses follow the release of new survey documents asking members for input on a merger. AIIA general manager, James McAdam, said the two boards would meet in August to discuss the findings, with the merger to be put to vote in October. If approval was reached, the joint entity would launch on July 1 next year.

The main focus would be to retain the core structure of both member groups, he said. Both had a similar number of participants. "We plan to retain the forums and special interest groups the AIIA currently has," McAdam said.

Stockbridge said a larger organisation would also provide members with faster response times to queries, as well as increased resources. While there would be some areas which the two organisations saw in a different light, he said there were many more they agreed on.

"The UK industry associations all got together under the umbrella of a main body and that has performed spectacularly well," he said.

Emerson Network Power, which produces networking hardware as well as communications tools, works with both associations.

Currently, electrical hardware regulations were monitored by AEEMA, while control and supervision regulations sat with AIIA, marketing manager, Peter Spiteri, said. "It makes solid sense that the total systems be covered by a single association," he said.

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