Going to work on the Hill

I am very excited to say that I am now working as a Policy Adviser for Senator Kate Lundy! This is a very different direction for me. I have worked in the ICT industry for almost 10 years, been deeply involved in FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) for nearly as long, and although I have worked with several Government agencies, I’ve never been involved in the political arena. I’ve also been a long term observer of Senator Lundy, watching her really involve herself in our industry and try to ensure there is sufficient political debate and understanding around core ICT issues.

I felt and the Senator agreed that it was important I announced this new role in my blog considering the public profile I have, and that I have always tried to be as open and transparent in my actions as I could. Senator Lundy feels that online and transparent engagement with the democractic process is an important goal, and I am now a part of that process.

On a personal level, I am extremely excited about this role. I love Parliament House, and now I am working here. I have always wanted to understand how policy and legislation comes about, and how the political process works. But I have, as have many Australians, been fundamentally disinterested because of, well, the politics πŸ™‚ This role gives me an opportunity to really understand – and hopefully participate effectively in – the system.

This role is my new full time employment, and as such I will not be engaging in any new Waugh Partners’ or other business. Jeff will be continuing as a Waugh Partners’ consultant, focusing primarily on his new website development work.

From a community participation level, I intend on maintaining my participation in various industry and community groups, however I will not be in any leadership or advocacy roles. I have spoken to Donna BenjaminΒ and James Purser, who are both specifically interested in creating a FOSS Government liaisonΒ  group, and if anyone else is interested in useful engagement with the Government, please speak to Donna or James.

Traditionally a person employed as a political staffer would not have any kind of “public” role. This is largely because of the challenges in ensuring a clear distinction between when a person is speaking on behalf of their employer, or themselves. Taking this into account, plus my existing online presence, we will be experimenting with me continuing to blog and twitter, and I hope to establish a good balance.

I see my new role as a way of contributing to a more robust and informed discussion within Government about ICT, skills development, online engagement in the democratic process, and the importance of openness (standards, technologies, transparency) in sustainable ICT procurement, in industry development and in global competitiveness. I hope that my peers in the FOSS community, in the ICT industry, in the media and in education are supportive of me in this role, and I look forward to an open dialogue to help shape future directions of ICT for and within the Australian Government.

56 thoughts on “Going to work on the Hill”

  1. Congrats on an excellent opportunity, no doubt you’ll bring large amounts of real life experience and considered cousel to Kate’s team. If there’s anything I can do for you guys just let me know.

  2. Wow that’s fantastic news Pia. Perhaps Lundy could elbow out the appallingly useless Conroy so we might see some sanity with the NBN and filter issues?

  3. Great to hear, Pia. I think your broad knowledge of the industry and your grass roots experience will put you in good stead. At least I imagine your commute will be mostly past the trees and sheep!

  4. Engaging with politics and trying to make a difference! That seems terribly un-Australian. You will have me questioning the value of whining to the converted on Whirlpool. Damn it, you have gone and done that role model thing again. Congratulations.

  5. Congratulations Pia, If anyone was going to make this type of move, it would always be you. You make an interesting point about community participation so I’m looking forward to your continued effort to make it work.

  6. From the perspective of utility, it is hard to imagine you doing other than an excellent job (from bith Kate’s viewpoint & ours), but I’m sort of wondering if outright honesty is compatible with our current Prime Minister? (:

  7. Congratulations Pia. I hope you do find that balance as I enjoy reading your blog and twitter posts. Insight into how governments work will also be quite enlightening in where we go wrong when we put our volunteer hats on and you may be able to hand out useful advice later for the likes of OLPC. Enjoy your new role. πŸ™‚

  8. Go Pia! Total awesomeness!! Couldn’t think of anyone better to get the open source and IT services message across on the hill!! Congratulations.

  9. Sounds like a lot of fun. I will be interested to hear more about the challenges of managing a public profile as a political staffer.

  10. Wow, what a great opportunity to apply your skill and passion! Congratulations on a well deserved selection.

  11. That’s excellent news Pia! Congratulations.

    (And it will be great to have you in town too. I’d love to be able to see you around the traps.)

  12. Hey cool! Lots of luck and good fun coming your way!

    P.S Next stop, Vote [1] Pia for Minister for Broadband, Communications etc etc (then world domination)?

  13. Thanks everyone for all your supportive comments! It really means a lot to me as this is a whole new adventure.

    @Kat, definitely would love to chat when you have some time. Open Australia is a great initiative.

    @Martinvisser, Yep, plenty of sheep around!

    @Malcolm Treddenick, @Andy Fitzsimon, @Mary, yeah I’m going to try hard to balance my new role, community participation and public profile, while also trying to be effective. It will certainly be an interesting juggling act, but Senator Lundy is pretty supportive of trying to figure this out as it will increasingly be an issue in Government.

    @Brenda, hardly, it will always be a result of the loads of awesome community and industry people when there is progress πŸ™‚ I have always just tried to do my bit, admittedly quite loudly sometimes πŸ™‚

    @Tabitha, definitely. I’m not completely sure how this will go (although 2 days in and I’m loving it!) but to really understand the processes in Government will be great!

    Oh, and thanks for the reminder Jeff. My new office has grass on the roof, nyer nyer πŸ˜‰

  14. “… taking over the world like we always do!”

    I thought you were joking.

    Now will it be one of those subversive takeovers from within or should I start building a bunker?


  15. Awesome news, Pia, congratulations. Having engaged with Kate’s team before, I know how important this move is and I’m really, really pleased both for you and for the wider FOSS community.

  16. Now, if you can just manage to combine Stephen Conroy and a clue-by-four, you can retire happy… πŸ˜‰

  17. Congrats Pia

    It is now FOSS Uber Alles so we can smash that M$ monopoly and stranglehold and rebuild this country with the right perspectives.

    We hope to hear constant news on your victories!

  18. Pia that is fantastic news! Congratulations! It’s wonderful that the government is taking advice from the Open Source sector given all the benefits it can deliver to the community – and who better to represent the industry?

  19. congratulations Pia for the new role.. it’s good for you πŸ™‚
    keep on the good work.. hope that we still keep in touch

  20. Congrats. It is beyond my expectations to see members of the floss world breaking new barriers and helping members of the political world navigate the complicated technological landscape that lies ahead and allows the incredible amount of innovation that it promises. go, pia, go!

  21. Poor old Kate Lundy seems to have been shouldered out of the exciting jobs lately, and pushed down into a low profile position. It’s a bit unfortunate the way Labor party internal politics works because Lundy has talent and she makes the effort to actually get out and talk to people rather than throwing decrees down from on high.

    I don’t see this as such a change of direction for you Pia, somehow you always gravitate towards organizational jobs, advocacy and leadership positions, so federal politics is just the same (but with more backstabbing). So long as you always keep your guard up, you should be OK.


    There will be a quiz next week, to see if you could be bothered reading it.

  22. Yeah, the basic Marxist concept is that the workers do the work and everyone above that just bludges on the workers. Every time some country tries to have just workers and no one to organize them, that country reliably ends up discovering that some animals are more equal than others, and then they rebuild the ruling class that they just abolished.

    The thing is, a well organized team is more productive than a bunch of well meaning but badly organized individuals. We could argue all day about the optimal way to get that team working together, but observation shows that some methods are better than others, and some people have more of a knack for it than others.

  23. @Tel, I read The Prince years ago, and found it really thought provoking. I enjoyed the idea that leaders should embrace the _fact_ that they have flaws rather than pretending to be perfect by presenting a face that isn’t their own. There were many other concepts in it that I thought were useful (although, not always the more conscientious, or “nice”).

    I think opening up Government processes and participation ends up breaking down the pretences somewhat, and create a more real machine that people can engage with. Aussies are pretty typically cynical about politics, and I think for good reasons, so time too try to improve the system πŸ˜‰ Wish me luck!

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