OK Boomer – know thine enemy

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 14 November 2019

In the 20th Century each successive generation fared better than their parents, both socially and financially. The likelihood is that trend will continue this century – if we all work together finding solutions to the very serious problems facing the environment and we leverage the benefits accruing from the emerging digitally-enabled global economy. There has always been a ‘generation gap’ and probably always will be but when it comes to existential matters solidarity forever I say!

Continue reading “OK Boomer – know thine enemy”

Catch 22.0 – we wouldn’t need inquiries if public administration wasn’t so broken

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster

By LAURIE PATTON | 3 November 2019

On the ABC’s Insiders program host Fran Kelly asked health minister Greg Hunt why the Government didn’t have an immediate response ready on the aged care royal commission report just released. “It wasn’t a surprise to anyone, was it”, Ms Kelly observed with obvious frustration.

No, it wasn’t. Not to anyone whose parents or friends have ended up in an aged care facility. Not to any politicians who have had their eyes open. And most certainly not to the highly paid bureaucrats in our federal and state health departments.

So why do we need to keep having formal inquiries before anything is done about known problems in government administration and abject market failures? Problems that so dramatically impact on the lives of the most disadvantaged among us.

We pay politicians and public servants to do a job not fob off their responsibilities to royal commissions and the like.

Continue reading “Catch 22.0 – we wouldn’t need inquiries if public administration wasn’t so broken”

The way forward on Uluru – 2019 Frank Walker memorial lecture

By LINDA BURNEY | 25 October 2019

I think there are three things we can learn from Frank Walker’s life and legacy. First, his willingness to make personal sacrifices for fairness and justice. Second, his pragmatism – to know the best possible outcome when you see it, and to not let it go. Third, to be able to provide a calm and sensible voice in the midst of emotion and hysteria. These lessons are no more relevant than to the current national discussion about the Uluru Statement, constitutional recognition and an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

Continue reading “The way forward on Uluru – 2019 Frank Walker memorial lecture”

More broadband porkies. Buying an NBN pig in a poke

By LAURIE PATTON | 20 October 2019

To quote veteran IT journalist Sam Varghese, NBN Co’s latest attempt to put lipstick on a pig – the animal in this case being the network it is building and the make-up in question being speed – goes one step further than the ‘alternative facts’ which its former chief executive, Bill Morrow, used to dish out

The spin doctors at NBN Co are understandably annoyed at media reports reminding people that Australia has dropped from 30th to around 60th in global broadband speed rankings. So they came up with a novel solution. They made up their own numbers. The trouble is nobody in the IT world seems to believe them.

Continue reading “More broadband porkies. Buying an NBN pig in a poke”

Telstra should stop whinging and help fix our dud NBN

By LAURIE PATTON | 16 October 2019

Earlier in the week Telstra chair, John Mullen, conceded the company must accept some of the blame for our flawed National Broadband Network due to its ‘recalcitrance’ back in 2007/2008 when it submitted a petulant bid that didn’t meet the requirements of the government tender to build a nationwide network. However, he then went on to attack the project, in particular drawing attention to NBN Co’s decision to compete more activley in the so-called ‘enterprise’ market – the provision of wholesale rather than retail products.

It’s all very well, if not ironic, for Mr Mullen to complain about a company offering a competitive service but let’s not forget that one of the biggest impediments to NBN Co’s financial performance, and thus its overall success, is the extremely generous terms of the deal the Coalition did with Telstra when Malcolm Turnbull followed Tony Abbott’s instruction to ‘destroy’ the NBN and opted to buy access to Telstra’s old copper wire network and its ageing Pay-TV cables.

In my view, NBN Co ought to consider renegotiating the deal with Telstra over access to their ‘pits and pipes’ and in return agree not to compete in the enterprise market. And Telstra should repair the damage it caused by negotiating in good faith – for Australia’s sake.

Continue reading “Telstra should stop whinging and help fix our dud NBN”

Miscommunication. Paul Fletcher spins his top like turvey

By LAURIE PATTON | 9 October 2019

Communications minister Paul Fletcher today spoke at an industry conference and outdid his Coalition predecessors in an extraordinary attempt to defend the beleaguered National Broadband Network. These are just some of the comments he made to an incredulous audience of IT professionals who know so much more than he does.

Continue reading “Miscommunication. Paul Fletcher spins his top like turvey”

Time to stop digging our way out of trouble. A lesson from the past?

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 6 October 2019

For the foreseeable future Australia will rely to some extent on mining for economic growth and to maintain our standard of living. Yet unresolved debates over a number of proposed coal mines have exposed a politcial rift that may well determine the outcome of the next federal election, just as the issue had a major impact on this year’s poll.

While the risk is arguably greater on Labor’s side the turning tide of public opinion spurred by concerns about Global Warming suggests both the major parties would be well-advised to start thinking about their future responses to the demands of the mining lobby.

One solution is to create jobs in other sectors for the people displaced when mines close or new mining licences are rejected.

Continue reading “Time to stop digging our way out of trouble. A lesson from the past?”

How Malcolm Turnbull missed his chance to fix the NBN

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is nbn.jpg

By LAURIE PATTON | 26 September 2019

Internet access is now the most complained about telco service in Australia according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s latest report. The state of our trouble-plagued NBN continues to see consumers heading to the authorities in the faint hope their broadband problems can be fixed. Alas, the future remains bleak for millions of NBN Co customers until the Government abandons a flawed set of technologies simply incapable of delivering 21st Century speeds.

Back in December 2016 I attended a fancy black tie dinner at which then prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was one of the guest speakers. Toward the end of the evening, having spotted me at a nearby table, Mr Turnbull beckoned me to join him in conversation. We’ve known each other for many years.

Not missing an opportunity I told him that his NBN was in big trouble. Actually, I used far more colourful language to describe this fetid project. However, I also said that there was a solution that should be adopted ASAP. “I need to know about this. Come and see me”, was the PM’s response.

Continue reading “How Malcolm Turnbull missed his chance to fix the NBN”

Barbarians at the gate – don’t let them destroy Murray Valley National Park

By Laurie Patton | 12 July 2019

The New South Wales deputy premier wants to allow logging in a national park in the state’s Riverina. John Barilaro says he intends removing statutory protection of the 42,000 hectare Murray Valley National Park – either by de-gazetting the entire area or reducing its size.

Forty years ago we fought to stop the logging of a rainforest at Terania Creek in northern NSW. I cannot believe this issue is back on the political agenda.

Continue reading “Barbarians at the gate – don’t let them destroy Murray Valley National Park”

The Assange dilemma. What is journalism in the online age?

By LAURIE PATTON | 13 June 2019 (Updated 21 November 2019)

Julian Assange dumped huge amounts of confidential material secured illegally from US Government computers straight onto the Internet, unfiltered and uncorroborated. If he had leaked it directly to the media outlets that subsequently, but very selectively, published reports based on some of his WikiLeaks files he probably would not be in gaol in the UK facing extradition to the United States.

While I sympathise with Assange’s current plight and accept that he is not in good health let’s not applaud what was a dangerous practice and a dubious precedent – publicly exposing unverified data that could potentially risk peoples’ lives and create unforeseen collateral damage. How would you feel if it included sensitive and confidential information about you?

In my opinion Assange is a whistle-blower not a journalist. On that basis he is arguably entitled to whistle-blower protection . The problem is he leaked directly to the Internet.

Continue reading “The Assange dilemma. What is journalism in the online age?”