Senator Conroy

For those of us in the IT industry, the reappointment of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister of Australia has most significantly seen the resignation of Stephen Conroy as Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

The bad

I’m pretty confident I share the views of many people in Australian IT when I say his departure is a… mixed blessing. On the one hand, Mr Conroy proposed one of the more absurd and overreaching online censorship schemes in the world, something which even the government of my second home in Singapore would have blushed at. I was relieved beyond all reasonable belief when the plan was [effectively] scuttled, though was more than a little nervous it could have reared its ugly head again at some point.

The better

On the other hand, we also had a person who spearheaded the National Broadband Network, a fibre-optic backed node-to-door system that would have finally pulled Australia kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Having grown up in advanced, digitally connected Singapore where communication infrastructure is a government priority, coming back to Australia was like pulling the engine from my laptop and attaching a horse. Paltry download quotas (heck, download quotas at all!), shaky connection quality and ridiculous provisioning times only made me feel for people in Australia attempting to use it to support their businesses, medical needs and education. It really is embarrassingly bad.

It’s with these mixed feelings I bid farewell to Senator Conroy from his post, and wish him well in the future. I hope he’s learned some things from his constituents and the IT community, and continues to be an advocate for future investment, rather than slapping on a band-aid and claiming one of your ministers invented Australian internet. Oh Abbott, you terrify me.