A couple of nights ago Jeff and I attended a discussion where Minister Della Bosca and Shadow Minister Pearce (who are both in charge of ICT for their parties) spoke about ICT generally. It was quite good because they both understand that ICT is a driving factor for the economy, they both understand the need to encourage local innovators and the Aussie ICT industry (although they disagreed on how), and Minister Della Bosca is also knowledgable about Open Source, but only brought this up when asked directly.
The Minister spoke about the Governments role in encouraging local innovation by being a smart procurer of ICT, however didn’t talk about investment in the industry. Near the end a Greens representative (I’ve lost his name!) spoke about their concerns regarding ICT and mentioned Access and equity, Education and Open Source as their three areas of great interest, which was good however his message around Open Source was a little negative (monopolies monopolies monopolies!) rather than focusing on the positive opportunities of Open Source (innovation, local economy, meeting the trade deficit through exporting specialist Aussie services!).
It was certainly an interesting event, and I for one am glad that our current Minister in charge of ICT in NSW is one of three politicians who have stood up in Parliament and spoken about Open Source, so keep up the good work Minister Della Bosca, and also to the Greens and Liberal opposition in keeping a healthy debate on the topic going. ICT is only starting to become a real platform for political debate, and it is really high time considering the weight of the ICT trade deficit (about $19b) which is about 80% of our total trade deficit. We can’t do much about most of that spending (CD players, mobile phones, etc) however we can work hard to create a strong and specialised services industry that we can export and start to meet the ICT deficit.