commentary Seriously, will Daryl Williams be missed in IT circles?
On Monday, Williams, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, announced his decision to quit the political scene at the upcoming federal election, citing personal reasons.
"I have decided, for family reasons, that I will not be a candidate for re-election for the seat of Tangney [Western Australia]," he said in a statement.
He made no mention of rescinding his position until the elections. "I will continue to address the many important and challenging issues in my portfolio and to deliver the strong policy outcomes that Australians expect and deserve," Williams said. Prime Minister John Howard has thus far been cagey about an actual polling date although some camps believe it could be in August.
Williams' move to retire surprised many in the technology and telecommunications industries as well as the legal community -- which he holds close to his heart. A barrister by training, he spent seven years as Attorney-General before taking up the IT portfolio in October 2003.
The new job was a culture shock for Williams and he hasn't shied away from admitting his shortcomings. "I actually found it very challenging to move into an area that for the most part I was not familiar with. I had had some exposure to broadcasting as a lawyer, but not to the communications and information technology areas. It's been a very interesting six months and I hope the next few months continue to be as interesting as they have been," he told ABC Radio.
Top marks for being honest but this begs the question of what criteria is used to select an IT minister.
Williams has also been taken to task by several quarters for failing to effectively articulate and act upon fundamental issues under his purview. A recent case in point was his branding of Australia as the world's premier outsourcing destination -- a comment which prompted this writer to question his thought processes, which drew a swift response from the minister.
Predictably, the Opposition pounced on the opportunity to attack the Howard Government, calling for Williams to be replaced immediately.
"Daryl Williams has now confirmed himself as caretaker minister in a portfolio that demands commitment and dedication. If John Howard does not remove Williams from this portfolio, he will be confirming the arrogance of a tired government that has run out of ideas," Shadow IT Minister Kate Lundy said in a statement.
It's foolish of Lundy to assume that in the following months, Williams will not be as committed and dedicated. These are two great traits but the public deservers a minister -- not necessarily with the intellect to decipher the complex world of technology -- who, for once, just makes sense.
How has Daryl Williams contributed to the information technology and communications industries? Do you think he should stand down immediately and, if so, who is suited for this position? E-mail your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or talkback below.