QLD IT minister promises better industry tracking

Having parachuted into a new Ministry of IT Policy, Queensland's latest cyber politician, Chris Cummins, is banking that increased research and reporting will sooth perennially strained relations between the government and local industry.

Addressing the IT Services Management Forum (ITSMF) in Brisbane on Monday, Cummins has promised to audit Queensland's local ICT on an annual basis. The move is intended to help develop better policy and incentives for investors looking to set up shop in the state.

Cummins said the government will double the frequency of its "Directions" IT industry report to deliver formal advice yearly rather once every two years. He added the document will provide a "statement" to help government agencies managing ICT support local industry, saying that his government required a "realistic picture."

However, the new minister also made no apologies for rationalising local industry support, saying developers need to look to niches where there is sustained growth, especially IT security, games and e-learning.

The news the Queensland government was upping the frequency of its industry stocktake was generally well received by Queensland delegates. A senior executive from a software company based in the state described Cummins' speech as "fence mending 101", but warned that "multinationals need to be left in no doubt that government support is linked to their support of local industry because there are Queensland jobs at stake."

In February Queensland Premier Peter Beattie caused a furore after telling ABC radio an SAP contract was awarded because local solutions - which were partially funded by his government - were considered of inferior quality.

Beattie's comments resurfaced during lighter moments after Cummins' address at the conference, when the IT policy minister proved he can play both diplomat and good sport by participating in live marshal arts exercise on stage, all hosted by a hired raconteur calling himself "The Corporate Ninja."

Asked to demonstrate how to force a release from a choke hold, Cummins was given some impromptu verbal encouragement by a conference delegate from the floor.

"Just pretend it's Software Queensland," said the man, as Cummins attempted to repel his attacker.

Julian Bajkowski travelled to Brisbane as a guest of ITSMF