ICT industry reacts to Labor win and NBN

NBN Co, AIIA, Ovum, Intel, ACS react

The Australian ICT industry has been quick to react to the news that Labor will be able to form government following the support of Independent MPs, Rob Oakshott and Tony Windsor.

Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) chief executive, Ian Birks, said the result indicated broadband was a decisive factor in the outcome of the election.

“It was probably the most decisive issue in the election, based on what the Independents have said… and that is unique I suspect in terms of an ICT issue being that significant in an election process.

“I suspect therefore that the NBN will be prioritised and accelerated… to rural and regional areas. That has to be good for industry.”

Birks said the new government should also look to prioritise the digital economy now that it could underpin it with the National Broadband Network.

“The digital economy is the economy ultimately and I don’t think this will slip down the totem pole at future elections,” he said. “You talk about productivity, health reform and tax reform, they all have linkages to the digital economy and we will be a mainstream issue going forward.”

On the issue of a mandatory ISP-level filter Birks said that rather than providing a mandate to pursue the policy, the election result was more indicative that an open debate needed to be held on the issue.

E-health was also likely to be a focus as the major payback of the NBN would be in the area of health, and similarly education, Birks said.

An NBN Co spokesperson said the company’s management and its 300 employees welcomed “the clarity that today’s announcements provides in relation to the future of the NBN”.

“The team at NBN Co has been working on business as usual in the post-election period, while limiting discretionary expenditure, extending the deadline for some tenders and putting the award of several tenders on hold,” the spokesperson said.

The company would now work to restore deferred processes, including the recruitment of staff.

“Everyone at NBN Co is looking forward to working with business, government, the community and our customers to deliver a high-speed broadband future for all Australians,” the spokesperson said.

According to Intel Australian New Zealand managing director, Philip Cronin, the chip maker was keen to continue work with the Government and NBN Co to demonstrate the value of ubiquitous, high-speed broadband in health, education, trans-sectoral government services, small business and regional development.

“We are already on the record as saying high speed broadband is a critical platform for building a digital economy in Australia,” Cronin said in a statement.

“We welcome today’s news. It will allow the IT industry, and the business community in general, to plan with confidence.”

Ovum research director, Kevin Noonan, said that as the incoming government was likely to take some time to find its stride, a continuing pause in federal ICT procurement was likely to occur.

Australian Computer Society CEO, Bruce Lakin said the organisation was pleased that technology was a key factor in this outcome and viewed as critical to our nation’s future.

"The ACS has made no secret of our support for a national high-speed broadband program within this decade," he said in a statement. "This is vital for our economic future in Australia and of course crucially important to the technology sector and we are pleased this outcome clears the path for this to go ahead."

Lakin said The ACS supported the Fibre To The Home network currently proposed for the National Broadband Network arguing the infrastructure offered the prospect of speeds of 100Mb/s evolving up to 30 Gb/s and beyond.

"We are pleased that this issue of a high speed broadband was elevated to a position of such prominence in the lead up to today’s decision," Lakin said. "It has achieved appropriate prominence as the stakes are very high for Australia when it comes to getting our technology infrastructure right.

"There are a lot of outcomes that are depending on broadband rollout including our ability to explore Australia’s business services, our SME’s community, regional business communications, national health care, green technology, entertainment industry, E-learning and E-security.”

"With the loss of the Gershon Reinvestment Fund, many whole of government IT initiatives are likely to become early casualties," Noonan said in a statement. "Ongoing funding is likely to remain tight over the life of the parliament as the new government will need to remain laser focused on delivering a surplus budget in three years."

Noonan said governance, values and due process have been defining issues in the post election period and that this was likely to drive renewed interest in greater governance of government projects and open reporting through Gov 2.0.

"All eyes will be on the new ministerial lineup, particularly responsibility for government IT," Noonan said. "Meanwhile, the NBN will continue. It is not yet clear what concessions have been made to the independents, but we think it likely that the NBN rollout will focus on rural Australia over the term of this Parliament."

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