AIIA, ACS welcome Coonan's reappointment

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and Australian Computer Society (ACS) has welcomed Senator Helen Coonan's reappointment as the Minister for Communications and Information Technology.AIIA chief executive officer, Rob Duirie, said the organisation welcomed the continuity of Coonan's leadership and was "encouraged by her enthusiasm and for listening to what the industry has to say.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and Australian Computer Society (ACS) has welcomed Senator Helen Coonan's reappointment as the Minister for Communications and Information Technology.

AIIA chief executive officer, Rob Duirie, said the organisation welcomed the continuity of Coonan's leadership and was "encouraged by her enthusiasm and for listening to what the industry has to say."

Durie said the AIIA will be following up Coonan's commitment on key issues previously raised, such as giving small and medium sized enterprises access to government contracts.

The ACS also previously mentioned their approval of Coonan's initiatives for improving "accessibility" to government ICT contracts in relation to the GITC contract framework, especially for small to medium businesses "who don't feel able to bid for these contracts".

ACS president Edward Mandla said it was a "huge relief" to hear Coonan's reappointment today since they are expecting to "move ahead" on a variety of issues they have previously raised with Coonan.

Mandla said they will be focusing on working out in the next 10 to 15 years what the solution is for improving broadband in Australia. He added that the ACS will also be following up on a range of issues to improve IT employees' situation in the country.

"We want to make it more attractive by dispelling the long hours and dark towers image of the IT industry. We also want to look at possibilities of employees being able to work from home, getting 12 months paternity leave, child care and fringe benefits," Mandla said.

He added that he will also be following up about raising professional standards in the industry and lowering liability levels in contracts.

Durie echoed Mandla saying that the AIIA is "pleased about the specific commitments the Minister's office made and are keen to work on a more dynamic strategic direction in the industry and putting in place a clear framework particularly for local companies."

He added that they are looking forward to the early implementation of Coonan's commitment on a "proactive response to the challenges of global sourcing and addressing issues of small-to on raising capital share options".

Mandla has previously expressed his support of "onshoring" as an the offshoring countermeasure mentioned by Coonan in the government's ICT policy.

"It's particularly encouraging that the Minister has picked up on onshoring as an important counter measure. This goes hand-in-hand with government purchasing. Our organisations are forced to export prematurely due to a lack of support from Australian government and corporate accounts. We need legislative change as much as we need cultural change in government purchasing and we are pleased that the federal government will address this," Mandla said.

Coonan's spokesperson previously told ZDNet Australia  that the Senator will pursue the merger of industry regulators, Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) and the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) should she be reassigned to the ICT portfolio.

However, Durie said they are not concerned with the merger and is focused more on the key issues they have previously raised. He also added that the AIIA was pleased that the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts was still intact since the organisation was already "comfortable with things staying like they are."