New Government, New Minister, New Direction For ICT?

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After months of being bombarded with party rhetoric from both sides, it's finally over. Australia has decided: Coonan is out. Our first internet election focused almost obsessively on the highly politicised issue of broadband and, despite promises of detailed proposals early in the campaign, neither party clearly outlined their policies on the wider aspects of information and communications technology.

The change of government will hardly pave the way for a new era in ICT in this country. Labor has pledged to spend almost $5 billion of taxpayer funds on a new national fibre-to-the-node network capable of reaching 98 per cent of Australians, with a vision to provide every school with connection speeds of 100Mbps. But is that two per cent too little? Will that become five billion of taxpayers' dollars spent on infrastructure that would have privately funded anyway?

At least now, Telstra can place its litigious focus on a new minister. The national telco's relationship with the previous government had been palpably worsening despite declarations from Helen Coonan of otherwise. The peacekeeping machinations of the ALP have already avowed a fresh start in the relationship between the government and Australia's telcos.

The coming months will hopefully reveal proposals that respond to the challenges of infrastructure, skills and innovation in the industry. Watch this space!