IT must fight harder than ever

With the government able to implement its fourth term wish list over the next three years, IT will have to fight harder than ever to get oxygen at the cabinet table and share in the spoils of a privatized Telstra.

Rest assured Telstra's sale and reform of cross-media ownership laws will soak up the IT media agenda for at least the next year. After all, Telstra's future is now lumped in with the media sector.

But this does not mean the Australian IT industry ought to take a political back seat while the vested interests of media companies try to extract concessions over the unleashing of Telstra.

IT now needs to fight harder and smarter than ever.

The first part of the new Howard agenda relevant to CIOs, IT managers and other customers of telcos and service providers, will be whether the government is prepared to allow a privatized monopoly to monster the local market to pump what has so far been a pathetic Telstra share performance.

If it does, this could easily result in an escalation of prices for enterprises as Telstra seeks to ramp up its revenue figures before being sold. In the short term at least, Telstra will need to boost revenues and slash costs like never before. So get that telco contract signed now, in blood.

The second part of the new Howard agenda for IT will be whether the government is prepared to invest Telstra cash in creating a sufficiently skilled and globally competitive local IT industry in Australia. So far it has shown little inclination.

To date, the Australian IT industry has largely survived the IT policies the government has thrown at it rather than prospered because of them. The result is Australia's $15 billion IT trade deficit, which is one of the worst in the developed world.

IT continues to grow as a percentage of GDP in countries such as India, China and even parts of Eastern Europe which attract substantial foreign IT investment with direct government support.

It will now be up to the Australian IT industry, including the Australian Computer Society, to makes its voice heard above much media noise to secure part of the spoils of Telstra for some real, local IT industry investment ... regardless of which IT minister will have to be influenced.

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