commentary Following the resignation of Daryl Williams as IT minister, the local industry is once again leaderless. We have a few suggestions.
Williams recently announced that he will only be minister until the next election, after which he's retiring from Parliament. Williams achieved a lot in his seven months in the job, at least compared with his predecessor, but Richard Alston didn't set a very high standard.
In business, if you had a department that never seemed to achieve anything, and the last two managers had resigned within seven months of each other, you'd start to think there was something not quite right about that department. But not achieving anything useful in the IT arena seems to be one of the Howard Government's policy goals, so perhaps they think Alston and Williams have done a bang-up job.
Williams has also been a lot more willing than his predecessor to deal with the IT media and get involved in debate, something we hope will continue with whoever succeeds him. But who will that be?
IT Shadow Minister Kate Lundy is an odd choice for IT Minister: she knows about IT and has strong opinions about how technology can be used to make Australia a better place.
Not achieving anything useful in the IT arena seems to be one of the Howard Government's policy goals, so perhaps they think Alston and Williams have done a bang-up job.
We're a little dubious about how far Lundy might go on open source software -- you can't force someone to have alternatives, which is what she seems to be trying to achieve. Either open source applications are an alternative for government departments, in which case those agencies would be foolish not to consider them, or they're not suitable for whatever reason, in which case it would be dumb to force those agencies to keep open source alternatives on the shortlist.
But this is something that can be debated with the industry and the media, and if we know anything about Kate Lundy, it will be. Of course Labor has to win the election first, and even if it does, the party generally has so far not taken IT anywhere near as seriously as Lundy does.
If the Coalition wins, PM Howard (or PM Costello?) will have slim pickings trying to find a suitable IT Minister from the crop of politicos currently on the front bench. But if we cast the net a little wider, we're sure we can find a suitable minister somewhere. For instance:
Delta Goodrem The thing that's been missing from the IT portfolio is profile, and Delta has plenty of this. Plus she's been in a recording studio and seen lots of knobs, dials, and blinking lights, so she has enough experience with technology to meet the current standard for IT minister.
Hew Raymond Griffiths The alleged leader of the Drink or Die piracy group, who was recently charged in the US, Griffiths has quite possibly done more than any other person to reduce Australia's ICT trade deficit by importing all sorts of software without paying for it. As well as practical experience in achieving policy objectives, he's also lived with his parents for far too long, just like the PM.
Hugh Jackman He played a geek in Swordfish, so he must know something about IT. Plus being able to type at 300 words a minute while being, er, otherwise distracted would also be a valuable skill for a politician.
Shri Arun Shourie Never heard of him? He's the minister of communications and information technology in India. We figure since the rest of this country's IT work is going there, why double up on government resources?
Know of any other suitable candidates? Send your thoughts to email@example.com or Talkback below.
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