ICT and the election

commentary It´s election time and like most, I cannot wait for the poll date to pass.The campaign has had its moments in the ICT sphere.

commentary It´s election time and like most, I cannot wait for the poll date to pass.

The campaign has had its moments in the ICT sphere. For a brief moment, hacks envisaged filing juicy yarns about our incumbent Prime Minister being hauled over the coals for breaching the anti-spam legislation. Such journalistic catnip was rapidly scattered to the winds by the Australian Communications Authority, who sent the ALP a slightly terse note that really could have been boiled down to two words -- forget it. The distinct sense from the ACA´s bunker was the last thing they wanted was to be dragged into a campaign brawl involving Howard. However, this episode aside, it has all been relatively mundane.

Both sides of politics are generally doing their best to offend as few people as possible, while appearing to do as much as possible. Kate Lundy´s ALP ICT policy speech fell into this category on occasion. While Lundy did put forward some interesting ideas regarding an ICT policy framework and touched on those aspects of industry development, manufacturing policy, immigration etcetera that impacted the sector, there were a hell of a lot of statements crafted to seem more dynamic than they actually were. For example, in government tendering: "Labor will work across the necessary portfolios to ensure that reasonable tender response times are provided for ICT tenders." Doesn´t really mean much and doesn´t commit an incoming ALP government to actually do something.

Of course, the touchiest electoral issue has been the sale of the remainder of Telstra. The government is anxious to proceed (backed by the heavyweight´s board and management, who noted in the just-released annual report that a full sale would reduce restrictions such as the ability to raise equity capital and use that for acquisition opportunities), but must deal with Australians in rural and regional areas, to whom it committed to upgrade telecommunications services before going ahead with the transaction. The Prime Minister said earlier this month services were "up to scratch," a comment duly interpreted by the ALP as meaning the sale agenda would be an early priority for a returned coalition government. The ALP´s current policy is to leave the majority of Telstra in public hands. I personally think most Australians just care about ensuring they get guaranteed access to affordable, high-quality telecommunications services rather than the will-it, won´t-it happen sale in itself.

What do you think are the main ICT issues of the campaign? Will ICT policies in themselves swing your vote?

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