Public servants, political appointments and good government

By LAURIE PATTON | 19 July 2018

Earlier this week what was widely perceived as two highly political appointments to plum roles in the federal public service highlighted a need to re-examine government administration in the 21st Century. Not because these appointments were necessarily inappropriate, but because they exposed a basic disconnect. We still like to pretend we have an olde-worlde apolitical public service consisting entirely of career bureaucrats who have no political leanings or are never influenced by them. If this was ever the case, it is no longer. Continue reading “Public servants, political appointments and good government”

From the chair – transforming auDA to build .au

By CHRIS LEPTOS | 17 July 2018

I have been watching with dismay the online commentary by a small number of members who seem determined to undermine the good work of auDA, and by extension the .au community.

They are entitled to have their views. However, we should also acknowledge that auDA does not exist just for some of its outspoken members. auDA is a vital part of Australia’s digital infrastructure. auDA is also a quasi-regulator of the .au namespace with over a million unique registrants, and many millions more who rely on a safe and stable .au domain.

Currently, auDA is undergoing a major transformation to meet the requirements of modern business practices and governance processes. This is in part due to the federal government review which recommended 29 reforms, and which the auDA board has fully embraced. Continue reading “From the chair – transforming auDA to build .au”

auDA latest: All quiet on the western front (for now, at least)

By LAURIE PATTON | 3 July 2018

As I’ve written previously, the Australian Government has given auDA – the company managing our Internet domain names – three months to develop new processes to redress historical weaknesses in its governance. The organisation has been mired in controversy in recent years. For quite some time, though, it had been seen as a tightly held fiefdom under the control of a board of directors elected from within the industry and fraught with conflicts of interest.

auDA brought in a team of external facilitators to run a member consultation session. Only about a dozen people showed up in person and about the same number attended online. This suggests to me that claims of widespread disquiet among the auDA constituency might be a tad overblown. Continue reading “auDA latest: All quiet on the western front (for now, at least)”

NBN: Won’t be finished on time. Simple as that!

By LAURIE PATTON | 22 June 2018

In my opinion, the NBN will not be a completed project until everyone has access to fast, reliable broadband. On that basis the rollout will take us well beyond the current projected deadline of 2020. What’s worse, it will end up having cost more than the original 2009 version and far more than then communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was told to expect when he adopted his so-called multi-technology mix model.

The people who advised the Government back in 2013 are the ones to blame. They recommended using Telstra’s ageing copper (FTTN) network – but even worse, they failed to consider the run-down state of the Telstra and Optus HFC (Pay TV) networks. Optus HFC has been totally abandoned and Telstra HFC is in need of much repair. Both the FTTN and HFC decisions are at the heart of NBN Co’s current dilemma.  Continue reading “NBN: Won’t be finished on time. Simple as that!”

ABC: You can’t privatise an organisation that doesn’t make a profit!

By LAURIE PATTON | 20 June 2018

The ABC earns around $100 million a year from its commercial activities (mainly ABC shops). Its annual operating budget is more than a billion dollars.

The organisation would not exist without the triennial funding provided by taxpayers (not by Treasurer Scott Morrison, who this week ludicrously claimed that he funded the ABC). You can’t privatise a business that doesn’t make a profit. So let’s call the demand from last weekend’s Liberal Party conference for what it really is – effectively a proposal to close the ABC and sell off its assets, the prime of which would be its broadcast spectrum. Continue reading “ABC: You can’t privatise an organisation that doesn’t make a profit!”

Six major issues that dominate public life today and require resolution

By JOHN MENADUE | 19 June 2018

There are six major issues that dominate public life today and require resolution. Those issues are: the dire consequences following the Iraq invasion, tax cuts during the mining boom that result in continuing budget deficits and debt increases, the threat of climate change and increased carbon pollution, the NBN debacle, hostility to refugees and asylum seekers, and problems with foreign influence and political donations which are producing an anti-Chinese sentiment. Continue reading “Six major issues that dominate public life today and require resolution”

The media are finding Chinese under most rocks

By JOHN MENADUE | 13 June 2018

The campaign run by some of our security agencies  and people close to them about the alleged Chinese threat is getting great support from some journalists. The latest is Andrew Greene, the  security and defence reporter at the ABC who breathtakingly reported last week that “A Chinese vessel, believed to be a spy ship, docked next to HMAS Adelaide in Fiji”. Good god!

We have had a lot of such misleading stories in recent weeks. Continue reading “The media are finding Chinese under most rocks”

Ignore driverless cars and we’re rejecting the future

By ANTHONY ALBANESE and ED HUSIC | 12 June 2018

The ever-accelerating pace of change in the 21st century demands that regulators be quick on their feet. Science and technology move so quickly that the moment we’ve settled the regulations governing the latest emerging sector, circumstances change, requiring that we revisit the regulatory framework.

For example, the Internet has developed so quickly over the past two decades that governments have failed to keep pace with emerging problems regarding privacy, bullying and cybercrime.

We should learn from this when it comes to the approach of what will be one of our biggest changes in decades: the emergence of automated vehicles. Continue reading “Ignore driverless cars and we’re rejecting the future”

Community TV – needed now more than ever

By LAURIE PATTON | 3 June 2018

Last week the Government announced a further two year extension on its deadline for community television stations to vacate their free-to-air spectrum. The death knell first rang back in September 2014 when then communications minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that all CTV licences would end in December 2015. Since then the sector has limped on courtesy of a series of last minute reprieves.

Sadly, this was to be too late for TVS (Television Sydney), the station I created back in 2004 with the support of the University of Western Sydney. Continue reading “Community TV – needed now more than ever”