The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has given the Labor Government a fail mark in its engagement with the IT community, but praised its National Broadband Network (NBN) initiative.
In an in-depth interview with ARN, ACS CEO, Bruce Lakin, said the Government had a disjointed method of managing ICT initiatives that had spread responsibility for tech issues between too many ministers and departments.
“In terms of overall commitment to ICT, I’d give it a failing grade but I’d give it a meritorious award for its commitment to broadband,” he said. “In the latter days of the Howard Government we had Senator Coonan as the relevant minister and I think most people would say that in terms of focus and coordination that was a more consistent and more attentive model.”
He called for a consolidated focus with a dedicated minister representing the ICT community around the country with a responsibility for industry development and e-citizen services.
Lakin’s criticisms were acknowledged by Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, during a speech to the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA). He claimed the blame lay with Government bureaucrats.
“I share your frustration,” Conroy said at the time. “I know the industry has been calling for consolidation and I think that’s a very, very positive thing.
“My next great challenge is to convince the bureaucrats to work in a much closer way to deliver the Government’s messages, policies and services.”
The Coalition did not escape unscathed, with Lakin looking forward to getting the opposition’s plan for broadband around Australia.
“If they are talking about closing [NBN Co] and the current model for delivering broadband to the nation we’d respect that opinion but we’d like to see what the installation rollout and enablement plan is to give the nation 93 per cent high speed coverage,” he said.
“The Opposition has had less coverage than the Government, but it’s also given less policy contribution. We would hope to see them make a more definitive commitment to broadband and ICT.”