Coonan attacks Aust-US free trade critics

Coonan attacks Aust-US free trade critics

Summary: The new Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, has lashed back at opposition claims that the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) will "harm" Australian software producers. In a release issued today, the Senator described statements made by the Shadow IT Minister, Senator Kate Lundy, and Western Australian Democrats Senator, Brian Greig, as "unfounded", accusing the politicians of "misrepresenting" the agreement.

SHARE:
The new Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, has lashed back at opposition claims that the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) will "harm" Australian software producers.

In a release issued today, the Senator described statements made by the Shadow IT Minister, Senator Kate Lundy, and Western Australian Democrats Senator, Brian Greig, as "unfounded", accusing the politicians of "misrepresenting" the agreement.

Coonan quotes Senator Lundy as saying "the AUSFTA will impose the US Patents System on Australian software producers and that small software producers will be vulnerable to anti-competitive bullying". The Minister's retort also referred to comments made by Senator Greig that the agreement would hinder the development of open source software.

Coonan said the opposing politicians were "attempting to frighten Australian businesses for their own political purposes".

"The AUSFTA will not have an effect on Australia's current approach and treatment of applications to patent computer software nor will it affect Australian open source software producers," she said.

"Computer software is already patentable in Australia if it meets the patentability criteria of being 'new', 'inventive', a 'manner of manufacture' and 'useful'. This will not change under the AUSFTA."

She adds that open source licenses will also not be affected by the AUSFTA as they are a form of copyright licensing. "This [agreement] will not affect the take-up and spread of open source software either," she said.

The Senator maintains that the AUSFTA will have positive benefits for the Australia ICT industry.

"It opens up the massive US Government market to Australian exporters and allows for the continued development of innovative software products, including Australia's burgeoning open source software development industry," said Coonan.

"The AUSFTA is overwhelmingly in Australia's interests and the ALP and Democrats should abandon their short-sighted opposition to this landmark agreement and support Australia's ICT industry."

Topics: CXO, Government, Government AU

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

4 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • ms coonan has obviously not read chapter 8 of the FTA, nor has she been aware of previous issues relating to the draconian institution of US software patents (hello? SCO? M$? Dare I go on?)
    This will most certain spell the end for AUssie companies that have 'infringed' on foreign software patents. This is foolish and should be fought with maximum ferocity.
    Check out this:
    http://www.petitiononline.com/auftaip/
    anonymous
  • If the government had been more competant in the negotiations there would be no problems. This seems more like a one way trade deal, not a free tade deal. Hopefully the new government will be able to negotiate a fairer for Australians deal next year.
    anonymous
  • "Soon to be" ex-software developer - OK Ms Coonan - If this deal its so good for OZ, then why are the US senators etc sniggering and trumpeting about "what a good deal for them" it is THEY have got us to sign up to? Of course it's in their favour! You only have to see what has been happening to resellers who sold Microsoft software and upgrade maintenace to clients only to have the Mega giant rip off the customers from the little guys when M$ went direct recently! The claim was they (M$) were offering "the best deal to their end user customer" when in fact the middleman got cut from the loop! It's a sign of things to come. Experience has shown already and will be shown even more so with the FTA that small software developers will have NO chance up against the moguls!
    anonymous
  • One day only! Never to be repeated! You must buy now! Don't think, just sign here... no there is no time to consider the options.

    Why do annoying sales droids sound the same all over the world in all walks of life?

    I challenge Coonan to demonstrate any knowledge of the open source community, any knowledge of the IT marketplace in Australia or any knowledge of how the patent system works.
    anonymous