At the launch of Google's Election 2010 portal at the internet giant's Sydney headquarters this morning, three of the country's most IT-savvy politicians went head-to-head on the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the government's planned mandatory internet filter.
AEC state manager for NSW Doug Orr, Paul Fletcher, Scott Ludlam, Kate Lundy and Google's engineering director Alan Noble (Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)
Outspoken IT advocate and Labor Senator Kate Lundy spoke of the lengths the government had gone to in making information public through government 2.0 and said she was "extremely proud" of the NBN.
"It is a fundamental base of participation that will put Australia in the forefront of this area from now on," she said.
Former Optus director of corporate and regulatory affairs and Liberal MP for the seat of Bradfield Paul Fletcher said his party is a "big fan of broadband", but questioned "whether it was wise to put $43 billion in a risky technology bet" on the NBN. He denied suggestions from Lundy that he advocated the government's approach to broadband in his book Wired Brown Land.
"We are deeply concerned that the new proposal was put forward without a cost-benefit analysis and without a business plan," he said.
Fletcher refused to reveal the Coalition's policy on broadband, saying that it would be announced "in the coming weeks". He also was not drawn into commenting on the public criticism over the leaked plans suggesting the party would look to a three-pronged approach to broadband.
On the government's planned filter policy, Lundy stepped back from her strident criticism of the plan and instead focused on the review of refused classification content outlined by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. She also said, however, that education was key.
"My view is that the real key, regardless of filter tools, is education for parents and children as to how the internet works," she said.
Greens Party communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said the review was a good idea, and called on the Liberal Party to announce its stance on the filter.
"Last time I checked, the government's policy was for mandatory filtering, and has been for the last three years. At least we know where Labor stands, I'd love to know where the Liberals stand," he said.
Fletcher said the Liberal Party was "deeply sceptical" of the policy, but would wait to see the details of the legislation before taking sides. He highlighted that the Labor Government had removed the NetAlert internet filtering software program for parents initiated under the Howard Government.
The Election 2010 portal launched by Google today combines Google Maps with electoral information such as who currently holds what seat, and by what margin. It also allows users to see search trends in relation to political topics, and is the home to electionWIRE, a YouTube channel run by non-profit youth media organisation Vibewire.
Google also launched Student Voice, a simulated online federal election for students between the ages of 15 and 17. The simulated election will be from 9 to 12 August and the results will be revealed on 15 August, just under a week before the real poll on 21 August.