Policies to drive services on a faster broadband network still unclear: AIIA

Australian Information Industry Association CEO disappointed the politicians not able to clearly state what they would do with better broadband

Policies on what the respective political parties would do on top of a faster broadband network infrastructure remain disappointingly absent, according to the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).

Despite being asked specifically to outline the policies they would take to drive ICT innovation and services on a faster broadband network at a debate at the National Press Club, communications minister, Stephen Conroy, shadow communications minister, Tony Smith, and the Greens’ Scott Ludlum, failed to provide any real detail.

AIIA chief executive officer, Ian Birks, who earlier in the day published an open letter criticising all parties for a lack of focus on ICT in the election discourse, said fibre is a “future proof investment” but that ultimately he was disappointed the politicians didn’t go beyond the network to address what they would deliver on it.

Overall, Birks said the debate was successful in raising the profile of the issues in the mainstream but he was critical of the policy positions put forward.

“Inevitably the fact that the Opposition policy position was only released an hour before the debate firstly limited our ability to understand it but also probably limited the opportunity for the Opposition to socialise it and understand what some people’s issues with it are,” Birks said.

“That was a little disappointing but at least because the lunch was held [the debate] it forced the hand of the Opposition to release it when they did. We have to say that it is good now we have a broadband solution from both sides of politics.”

The AIIA chief, who counts among his member ranks Dell, Microsoft, Data#3, Fujitsu, Google, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Oracle, Cisco, Red Hat, SAP, SingTel Optus, Telstra, Unisys and a raft of other well-known and successful ICT organisations, said it was also disheartening the politicians didn’t talk about the economic benefits to be derived from broadband infrastructure.

“I was very disappointed by the response. For us it is a conversation about the economy, it’s not a conversation about our sector. The economy will be enabled by how we take advantage of this broadband investment,” he said.

“To not be able to crisply state we will take advantage of it and the policies to support that, I think is to the detriment of all sides.”

Birks is now seeking an audience with the shadow communications minister to discuss the plan.

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