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Will Tassie's IT agenda lose its mojo?

After a brief tenure as Tasmanian premier, David Bartlett is stepping down to spend more time as a husband and father. Where does that leave Tasmania's currently forward-looking IT agenda?

Since writing this commentary, the news has been released that David Bartlett will now be the attorney general and minister for justice. David O'Byrne will add innovation, science and technology to his existing portfolios.

After a brief tenure as Tasmanian premier, David Bartlett is stepping down to spend more time as a husband and father. Where does that leave Tasmania's currently forward-looking IT agenda?

Digital Tasmania spokesperson Andrew Connor thinks that Bartlett may do more good as IT minister now than he can in the top job.

And he could be right.

But there's something to be said for having the man in the top spot barracking for the techies, and I think many Tasmanian information technology and communication workers will mourn Bartlett's loss.

After all, getting the Federal Government to start its National Broadband Network roll-out in Tasmania was a major win — one that had all eyes on the state, especially since it was just being hooked up to the mainland by alternate backhaul provider Basslink.

Tasmania was the only state government to get off its arse and put in a response to the request for proposals released by the Federal Government in April 2008 (a month before Bartlett came on board). Although in typical "me too" style, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales have since been reaching out to NBN Co's table to garner as many of the scraps as possible in the form of jobs and priority on the mainland roll-out.

The state has also been on the IT reform trend and has been going out to industry for ideas about how it can become the digital state of the future.

It feels like there has been an IT renaissance of a kind in the Apple Isle, and I would be sad to see that lapse.

Of course, perhaps not having to worry so much about budgets, timber mills, making the state into Australia's food bowl and various other non-tech-related issues could make Bartlett a meaner and more focused tech advocate — prepared to fill in the details on the IT agenda he's pushed the state to embark upon.

He'll have to hope that the agenda will be as important to his successor, Lara Giddings, who has her training in law and arts, as it was to him. Because it's no use filling in the details for an agenda that's been relegated to the back seat.

What do you think? Is Bartlett's decision to step down as premier a positive or negative decision for IT?