Can the Doctor save the day?

commentary To stop sinking deeper and deeper into the mire, the Australian Computer Society (ACS) has decided to turn to an outsider for help by appointing Dr Kerryn Phelps as a consultant.Phelps, a seasoned media personality and the former high-profile president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), has quietly been on the job since January, when Edward Mandla was appointed president of the ACS.

commentary To stop sinking deeper and deeper into the mire, the Australian Computer Society (ACS) has decided to turn to an outsider for help by appointing Dr Kerryn Phelps as a consultant.

Phelps, a seasoned media personality and the former high-profile president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), has quietly been on the job since January, when Edward Mandla was appointed president of the ACS.

In fact, it was Mandla who pushed for Phelps involvement after watching her in action at an ACS dinner in December.

"I know there has been criticism about how irrelevant the ACS has become but we have been working on a myriad of solutions to overcome this.

"The first step was to get an experienced hand to guide us ... and to make the ACS the voice of the ICT industry," Mandla told ZDNet Australia&nbsp in an interview.

The duo, according to Mandla, have also been working together to define policy issues, and to make the ACS more politically astute and media-savvy.

Phelps believes that to be successful, the ACS needs a strong profile behind the scenes. "It needs to be visibile along the corridors of power in politics and the media."

And Phelps certainly knows what she's talking about.

Hitting the headlines on several occasions while leading the medical association between 2000 and 2003, she's perhaps best remembered for threatening to sue then Federal Health Minister Michael Wooldridge for defamation two years ago. Prime Minister John Howard eventually intervened to settle the feud.

Phelps comes with a solid track record and her appointment bodes well for the ACS. If anything, it shows that Mandla and his council members have woken from their slumber and are headed in the right direction -- at least for the moment.

Her idea to appoint a government lobbyist in Canberra to position the ACS as the premier lobby group for the ICT industry, and to push its agenda is a good move. This is a defining moment for the ACS -- it can either fall flat on its face with silly policies or win back the support of members and the IT community at large.

Do you think the ACS made the right decision in appointing Phelps as a consultant? Would you give the Society an "A" for effort? Send your comments to edit@zdnet.com.au.

Be sure to check out ZDNet Insight on March 17 for the full interview with Mandla and Phelps.