Since he first surfaced on Twitter on 30 October last year, Fake Stephen Conroy has been amusing Australians with his pithy wit and dead-on parody of Australia's real Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
The real Stephen Conroy
Following the road pioneered by Fake Steve Jobs, Conroy's alter ego has used satire to skewer his real-life namesake at every opportunity, not to mention the opposition. With this in mind, ZDNet.com.au interviewed Fake Stephen Conroy in depth to find out more about the man behind the mask.
What do you enjoy most about being the Minister for Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy?
I love speeches. I didn't used to, though. I'm not some fancy-talking guy with a Diploma in Fruitiness. But now I just love 'em.
Paula and I were at dinner with the Fielding's one night and Steve suggests we play a game. I'm no prude, so when he leaves the room, I start unbuttoning my shirt and giving Susan my best "hey, baby" eyebrow-wiggle. Long story short, Steve comes back with some pencils and paper and we play "Madlibs".
So in the middle of all the verbing and nouning it dawns on me; I could Madlib my speeches! Now I just throw a few "hackers" and "helpless children" and "rapists" into a Word template and I'm done. No muss, no fuss, and it's a lot of fun.
What do you enjoy the least?
I'm not a fan of all the briefings and meetings and strategerising. I'm a hands-on guy, I'm a decision-maker; I have better things to do than listen to my staff go on and on and on about a pending total economic meltdown stemming from the catastrophic failure of IT infrastructure. My time is better spent patrolling the internets, looking for deviants to punish.
Sure, I could delegate the e-police work to an intern, or outsource it to India, but my standards are high, and only I have the intelligence and wisdom to discern the graphic from the pornographic.
Also, Indian people are freaks. Have you seen the Kama Sutra? Wow.
What activities/hobbies do you pursue outside of hours?
I used to be an avid kitten fisherman (purely recreational; catch-and-release), but there just aren't enough hours in the day anymore to find kittens, let alone stuff them into a sack and toss them into a river.
What politician or other social leader do you use as an inspiration?
Uncle Ben Parker, Tony Stark and Jesus. Uncle Ben once said, "with great power comes great responsibility". Tony Stark and Jesus took that advice to heart, and now we live in a perfect world that is free from hatred, crime and shape-shifting Skrull invaders.
Can you talk a bit about the progress of the National Broadband Network request for tender process — what's going on, and what's next?
No. The tendering process mandates that discussion, analysis and criticism of said process is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
What is your opinion of the Federal Government's relationship with Telstra? Is it good, or if not, what could be done to improve it?
Look, I don't want to talk about our relationship, but I will say that it takes work on both sides to keep a relationship working. I know Sol is busy, but it'd be nice if he'd return my calls once in a while. Sometimes ... sometimes it feels like he just doesn't care.
How would you respond to criticism that the internet filtering scheme currently being trialled has the potential to impose censorship restrictions on free speech in Australia?
Let me answer your question with a question; do you love children? Did you know that children love delicious candy? We regulate the delicious foods industry to protect the children you so love, so why should the internet be any different?
Unregulated, our nation's grocery store shelves would be full of chocolate-covered razor blades. That's what the internet is like today, and every time a child visits a web page, they're consuming potentially-deadly mind-candy.
Filtering is a public safety issue, not a free speech one.
What is your opinion on the performance of your Shadow Minister, Lindsay Tanner?
Last time I checked, The Tannernator was on our side. Did you mean Nick Minchin? It's exactly this kind of journalistic deception that necessitates and vindicates the National Filter Network.
With regards to Nick Minchin, to be honest, I don't care for the man. He is constantly undermining my policies and taking my milk from the parliamentary refrigerator. We may disagree on politics, but we should be able to be civil to each other. Minchin's predecessor, Helen Coonan, was a delightful woman. She'd always find time to talk to me, complimenting my tie, for example, and telling me that I smelled nice.
Can you comment on what sort of telecommunications and IT policies the Rudd government will take to the next election?
What makes you think there'll be a "next election"?