A chat with Fake Stephen Conroy

A chat with Fake Stephen Conroy

Summary: ZDNet.com.au presents the man behind the Twitter account: Fake Stephen Conroy lays out his digital agenda. And kitten-fishing.


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
(Credit: DBCDE)

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"?

Topics: Censorship, Government, Government AU

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  • Wow

    The Minister is funny AND super-hot.
  • I don't know much about humour...

    ...but I know what I like.

    From what I can see from fake Stephen Conroy on this and twitter, it is hardly a highpoint of satire.

    I know there are an awful lot of IT people out there critical of filtering and the NBN process, but I do wonder what they'd prefer? Roll over and let Telstra build an FttN network and not require access? Have Conroy impose a filtering regime rather than conduct a technical trial?

    What exactly would the Fake Stephen Conroy do if he was the Minister?
  • Re: I don't know much about humour...

    Dear Mr. (or Ms., in which case, "hey baby, how're YOU doin'?") Anonymous,

    I wholeheartedly agree with you; IT people are a bunch of hypercritical nerds. All they care about is "logic", like that Dr. Spock in The Star Wars.

    That said, as crazy (and kind of gross) as these super-nerds are, I think you're being disingenuous in your insinuation that they are against a technical trial. For the most part, they're not against a trial, they just think that it's a pointless waste of money that is ultimately doomed to failure.

    They're wrong, obviously. The trial will demonstrate that filtering makes the Internets faster than ever before, with more vivid, realistic colors, and the unmistakable aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

    LOL (Lots of Love),

  • Or, there are other, more sensible options

    I like the way you frame the debate as a restricted choice: "Have Conroy impose a filtering regime rather than conduct a technical trial?"

    There is, of course, another choice: Don't waste the taxpayers' money on Conroy's Rabbit-Poof Firewall, with or without ill-defined trials, but spend the money where it'll actually do the most good: policing and education.
  • See what filtering does?

    So, I mis-typed "Rabbit-Proof Firewall", and it gets turned into asterisks. That ends up looking ruder than it could have done without them. Hilarious!
  • Rabbit-proof

    I could fix that for you Stilgherrian, but I reckon the comment thread looks funnier this way :)

    News Editor
  • oh boy .

    The heading sounded misleading - and the article followed suit -- payrise this year - i dont think so..
  • Very Funny

    Thanks for the laugh this morning
  • Dr Spock in Star Wars????

    What the???
  • RE: IT people

    Conroy is in no way a typical IT person.
    I'd probably go as far to say Helan Coonan knew more about telecommunications that he does.

    'Nerds' would actually provide technical details, and would pay particular attention to how such a plan would affect speed, efficiency, etc...

    No matter what department he's in, he's simply a politician.
  • Actually...

    ... it's "The Star Wars", not "Star Wars"
  • ROFL!


    Nothing could prove, conclusively, the effects of a Mandatory Internet Censorship scheme.