In this episode, we explore the wonders of Australian democracy now that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called the federal election for 18 May, and Nicholas Fryer joins me to talk about truth and lies.Continue reading “The 9pm Arch Window of the Death of Democracy”
Politicians are notoriously clueless when it comes to technology. Indeed, a Parliament House staffer once told me that it’s impossible to overstate their level of ignorance. But isn’t it time they caught up with the rest of us?
Last year I wrote about this in the business context, “I don’t understand computers” is not an excuse.
If you own or manage a business that handles information (and which business doesnâ€™t?) then you must understand computers and the Internet. If you don’t, you’re incompetent. Yes, that’s right, you heard me. Incompetent…
In short, you don’t need to know the technology itself, but you do need to know its implications for your business.
Australia’s had a Goods and Services Tax since 2000. If you waved your hand and said, “Oh, I don’t understand GST,” your shareholders would have every right to sack you for incompetence.
Yesterday I wrote about this in the political context for ZDNet.com.au, Are clueless politicians holding IT back?, and as in my business-focussed piece I suggested a checklist for what I reckon they should know.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Or am I right in using the word “incompetent” here?
The ALP’s grand vision of a “clean feed” Internet safe for Aussie kids is meant to filter out — what, exactly? Labor’s pre-election policy [PDF file] seemed to give the proposed ISP-level filters wide scope indeed, blocking content â€œinappropriateâ€ or â€œharmfulâ€ for children — however thatâ€™s defined. But evidence given to Senate estimates last night suggests itâ€™s little more than whatâ€™s already in place.
As Iâ€™ve written in Crikey before [1, 2] debate is clouded because sometimes people talk about Internet filtering in terms of child pornography and other very-illegal â€œprohibited contentâ€, and other times itâ€™s about material as wide-ranging as websites promoting anorexia as a lifestyle choice.
Communications minister Stephen Conroy hasnâ€™t helped by labelling free speech advocates watchers of kiddie porn.
Last night Senator Conroy confirmed that the trial of ISP-level filtering is on schedule. The contract has been issued; the reportâ€™s due back on 30 June. But whatâ€™s actually being filtered, beyond ACMAâ€™s existing blacklist of about 800 URLs of â€œprohibited contentâ€? No-one knows. A Ms Oâ€™Loughlin from ACMA told us they â€œhavenâ€™t completed discussionsâ€ with the Ministerâ€™s office about that.
Watching the Senate Estimates today, I’ve been amused by the antics. Lining up all the Senators, the Minister, public servants and parliamentary staff must cost a bomb per hour, so you’d hope the time was spent wisely. Sadly, no.
My observations — in between other work, so this isn’t representative:
- Senator Stephen Conroy’s little joke of re-reading the PM’s statement about pay restraint whenever anyone asked about executive salaries wore thin. Please, just have the spine to say, “No, I won’t be making a separate statement.”
- Senator Simon Birmingham wasted time asking the head of SBS questions whose answers could have easily been found on their website or in their annual report. Maybe you should organise a coffee with him or a staff member to catch up on these basics.
- Senator Eric Abetz had a detailed list of quite specific questions for Australia Post. It’s precisely this kind of forensic examination which gives Senate Estimates such importance to our democracy.
- Senator David Johnstone was… no, he gets more than a bullet point!
Senator Johnstone was angry that when the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) awarded two new community radio licenses in Perth last month, one long-running “aspirant” (license applicant) called Western Sports Media wasn’t a winner.
Apparently some cricket fans were upset. However Senator Johnstone tackled the ACMA representatives with what I thought was inappropriate aggression — particularly as he obviously wasn’t across the details. I therefore fired off an email…