IT first off the rank in swag of election promises

IT policy will be first off the rank in a series of formal announcements to be made in coming months by both parties in the lead up to a Federal election.

Responding to the Federal Government's $2.9 billion Innovation Plan launched earlier this year the Opposition Leader Kim Beazley will announce Labor's IT platform, Knowledge Nation, at the end of this month.

The initiatives in Knowledge Nation have been formulated by a taskforce of academic researchers coordinated by IT opposition spokesperson Senator Kate Lundy.

In an interview with Computerworld, the Senator was unwilling to disclose specific IT policy initiatives to be announced because dollar figures won't be allocated until an election is called.

"We don't know the state of the books until an election is called and the Government allows us to see how much money is actually available," Senator Lundy said.

She admitted the Government's Innovation Plan was a step in the right direction, particularly the emphasis on research initiatives and technology incubators, but is concerned about the commercialisation of ideas in public institutions and how that is implemented.

"Most of our research bodies are public institutions and when we turn intellectual property into commercial opportunity we need to ask who benefits and who gains financially," Lundy said.

Under a Labor Government, IT and telecommunications will be separated. The National Office of the Information Economy (NOIE) will be under an IT and industry portfolio as it is seen as an economic development driver.

"Telecommunications is basically a regulatory portfolio and should not be positioned with IT; we will also change the focus of NOIE which has been too set on controlling and restricting content instead of simply facilitating Internet growth," Lundy said.

Federal IT Minister Senator Richard Alston is planning some announcements of his own prior to a federal election. First, the Minister wants to bed down the interactive gaming bill before resolving a range of Telstra issues including the digital upgrade of the Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network.

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