The election date is set. It’s pistols at dawn on August 21 as voters decide on who they want in the next Federal Government. The spotlight will inevitably be on the new Labor Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and her arch nemesis, Liberal Party leader, Tony Abbott.
With just a few weeks till D-Day, we asked ISPs what they wanted out of the upcoming election. After all, some of the biggest technology and communications issues affect them and their subscribers.
There is the touchy subject of Internet filtering. Highly contentious, extremely unpopular and still very much alive despite a bit of a hiccup, the current Government has delayed the full implementation till next year. But that hasn’t stopped Telstra, Optus and iPrimus committing to a voluntary scaled down ‘child porn URL filter’.
Then there is the ambitious National Broadband Network (NBN) the Coalition has pledged to bin if it is elected as the preferred Government. There’s also the possibility of a Telstra structural separation – that is, splitting the telco’s wholesale and retail arms.
ARN asked three ISPs about the issues they want to see addressed for the election.
Mandatory ISP-level filtering and the structural separation of Telstra are “non-issues” in the upcoming election, according to iPrimus CEO, Ravi Bhatia.
The filter issue is not worth discussing and will not make a difference to anybody, he said.
“I don’t think it plays any role in the election; there are bigger issues than that and it is not a political issue,” Bhatia said. “Whether there is a filter or not and how it functions, what it leaves out and all that is nonsense.”
In terms of whether political parties should address the possible structural separation of Telstra, Bhatia doesn’t see the point in involving it in the election discourse.
“The separation issue has been there since 1997 [when Telstra was privatised] and hasn’t swayed any elections one way or another; I think it’s a non-issue,” he said.
While the Coalition has repeatedly stressed it will scrap the NBN if elected into power, it is all bluff according to Bhatia.
“It is political argy bargy as the Opposition will always oppose what the Government does,” he said. “I don’t think anything will change. This is just the Coalition positioning itself for the election and trying to create a differentiation.”
Bhatia wants to see stability, economic development and certainty for jobs as election outcomes.
Internode detailed its election wish list: To see the next elected Government continue building a wholesale only NBN, to not waste money censoring the Internet and providing more resources to the police to enforce existing laws pertaining to cyber security.
Internode carrier affairs manager, John Lindsay, is opposed to the Internet filter and views the introduction of a voluntary ‘child abuse filter’ by the Labor Government to defuse the Internet filtering debate.