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EDITORIAL: Deja vu all over again

EDITORIAL: Deja vu all over again

So the Government thinksIT needs to be re-framed.Re-worked. Re-mapped. Again.

I guess they're right. According to CBA's David Murray, the industry has become dangerous. Citizen Bill Clinton claims it's also boring. And then there's a survey that suggests it is the fourth most likely industry to engage in unethical behaviour. So what's going on? Somebody been snorting coke over IP? I mean, how much more framing do we need?

Funnily enough, the Government that is about to give us a make-over is the same administration that just doesn't seem able to move on to the 'work' part of the 'framework'. Instead, they keep regurgitating the same old line about encouraging IT innovation and have proceeded to set up a Steering Committee to drive it to the party. Understandably so -- one has to have a driver to blame if the affair ever blows up in one's face. Sigmund Freud would have called it the Heffernan Complex.

Really, one has to look no further than the proposed stages of the framework development before the spooky feeling of déjà vu starts to kick in. First, there is research and mapping, then a 'foresighting' process, then a framework development process and to top it all off, a reporting stage. Not a policy in sight!

Personally, I'd go for a change of culture. That way, at least the language of the proposal would have a familiar ring to it. Except, nothing much is likely to change, for, if the Broadband Advisory Group is any indication, the wolf is still wearing sheep's clothes.

For one, the only carrier on board, Telstra, is the very culprit at the heart of the broadband debate. The 'stakeholders' (on behalf of whom the government is trying to 'foster communication' on the broadband issue), on the other hand, will have no direct participation in the process. True, AARNet, which secured a board seat, provides Internet services to the education sector and CSIRO. But how about some ground warriors? Surely, an ISP or two would help!

And then there is that word - innovation. For the Government, innovation, it seems, is about developing new technologies and applications and shoving them down consumers' throats to 'facilitatebroadband take-up'. Never mind that the issue was never about the lack of 'marketable' products and applications. But since Telstra has finally dropped the wholesale price of broadband services, the 'facilitators' of broadband take-up are finally in on the game. Even if onlynominally.

Well, now that the broadband fairy has arrived, you should at least make a wish! Just for the record, though, I seem to remember that if no teeth have naturally fallen out of your gums, you'll have to have one pulled out. You see, the Telstra fairy never works for free.

To be fair, both the ICT Framework for the Future Steering Committee and the Broadband Advisory Group are made up of industry veterans with a lot to say on the subject -- Peter Kazacos, Terry Walsh, Phil Singleton and Jeffrey Tobias are all carrying the channel's flag. Hopefully, they will follow in the footsteps of Norman McCann, the sadly departed managing director of Hewlett-Packard and the appointed chairman of the Steering Committee,who tirelessly lobbied for the IT cause. And hopefully, this time around, the industry's voice is going to make a difference.


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