Is Australia ready to embrace an official digital currency? How is the government cracking down on crypto and Buy Now, Pay Later payment systems? I was the special guest on this week’s Vertical Hold: Behind The Tech News.Continue reading “The 9pm Extra: Vertical Hold episode 358, “Australia considers adopting digital currencies, cracking down on crypto and BNPL cowboys””
This is my fourth outing as guest co-host of Well May We Say, the Australian progressive politics podcast from Jeremy Sear-Pirko in Melbourne. This episode is titled “Anti-Vicsers” because… well I assume you’ve been following the COVID-19 news.Continue reading “The 9pm Extra: Well May We Say episode 147, “Anti-Vicsers””
In this episode we learn the science of the virus, a Melbourne woman reaches the limits of her endurance, and we hear reasons to doubt the ability of public servants to stay informed. Plus there’s a lot about COVID-19, Donald Trump, and conspiracy theories.Continue reading “The 9pm Economically Rational Sovereign Cognition Effect”
It’s Day 19 of Stilgherrian’s coronavirus isolation. People are starting to realise that things might be different in the Aftertimes, and some of them don’t like it. Also, God bless Jared Kushner.Continue reading “The 9pm His Plague Diary 4”
I’ve commented on Australia’s federal Budget for Crikey every May since Labor took power in 2007. This year will be no exception — but how will I top last year’s rant?
Why do politicians and their groupies always go on about the budget “sending a message”? Can’t they just use Twitter, email and the phone like we all do? But there is indeed a message in the budget: the government has no real vision for transforming Australia, and isn’t particularly interested in developing one with us.
I talked about the $240.3 million allocated to new IT systems for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); $43.7 million for upgrades at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC); adding a further $233.7 million to the $477 million already spent on the National e-Health Initiative; $198 million for an “aged-care gateway”; $17 million to “enhance” the MySchool website; and so on. And then I concluded:
Why, in a cashed-up nation that is, or was, renowned for its eagerness to develop and adopt new technologies, is all this stuff just mouse nibblings at the edges, buried under the dull plod of business as usual? Sometimes I just want to cry.
To see how I approached the topic in previous years, check out the summary I wrote last year.
So once more I’ll be up early local time — I’m currently in San Jose — to knock out something before or perhaps in between conference sessions. Are there any particular angles you think I should look out for?
[Update 25 May 2013: Crikey decided they didn’t need my input after all. Rather than waste my notes, today I wrote Australia’s Budget 2013 keeps us stuck in the past.]
I’ve commented on the Budget for Crikey every May since Labor took power in 2007. This year will be no exception. But what will I say?
In 2008 I criticised Rudd’s slow digital revolution.
Dig into Budget Paper No. 2 and there’s a frustrating lack of detail and commitment.
Of $4.7b promised for the National Broadband Network [this was the original 12Mbps fibre to the node policy], only 0.16% has been committed: $2.1m this financial year and $5.2m next for “establishment and implementation”. The remaining 99.84% — you know, actually building the thing — is all “nfp”. Not for publication. We’ll get back to you…
The rest? All. Too. Slow. And. Vague.
In 2009 I complained that the machinery of Australian government is as outdated as the steam locomotive and the electric telegraph in The Budget? How quaint! They’re just made-up, you know.
Here we imagine that once a year we can produce a Big List of Numbers that’ll cover everything our “modern” nation-state will need to deal with for the next 365 days.
We proclaim it Good or Bad for this or that self-interested sector of the community on the basis of a quick glance, a gut reaction, and the need to create a narrative that’ll attract an audience or justify a pre-existing political zealotry.
We pretend to believe numbers like “$20 million over four years” when only a tiny part of that might be committed in the coming financial year and the rest, still to be confirmed in the next Budget, is therefore nothing but wishful thinking.
The reality, of course, is that the world moves faster than this. We experience a sudden global financial crisis, and must immediately tighten our belts by … um … giving away $900 cash to everyone.
In 2010 I complained of More NBN vagueness, border control and cyber-safety re-allocation. It’s not a bad read, but I’ll leave you to click through to that one.
And by 2011 I was clearly over the whole thing, writing Ritual shenanigans, but hey, this is government.
Riddle me this. What is the actual point of the federal budget process and all the lock-up shenanigans that go with it when the biggest bucket of money related to the technology sector by far, that National Broadband Network thing, isn’t even on the books?
What is the point when the way that NBN money is being spent – and is it $26 billion or $36 billion or $43 billion or that $50 billion scare-number that Malcolm Turnbull pulled out of some random orifice and keeps repeating unchallenged? – it is all SEKRIT thanks to those magic words “commercial confidentiality”…
What is the point of this annual ritual – built on the assumption that we can publish a set of numbers in May that will, in this complex and rapidly changing world, still be meaningful six months down the track – when the government has to respond to changing circumstances? Such as urgently building a fibre-to-the-premises network? Or responding to a global financial crisis? Or starting a land war in Asia? Or handing to every taxpayer $900 because, um, oh, shut up stop asking questions and buy a new TV.
I went on about “$20 million in suck-up-to-Tasmania funding” and “Labor’s half-arsed internet ‘filtering’ policy” and “loud-mouthed entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan” and noted:
Just be aware that all of this could be changed in an instant, budget process or not, if a minister gets on a plane with the Ranga-in-Chief with a few numbers scribbled on the back of an envelope.
So, what the fuck will I end up writing once the budget papers drop onto government websites tonight? Especially given that my shoulder is “out” and I won’t be able to get it fixed until tomorrow afternoon — my birthday! — and I’m scoffing codeine? Suggestions please!