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Tuesday, 17 September 2013 12:18

Lundy lashes out at Coalition tech policy Featured

Senator Kate Lundy Senator Kate Lundy

The former Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy Kate Lundy has slammed Tony Abbott's technology portfolio, describing it as a "retrograde step" after he cut the scope of the government's communications ministry.

Senator Lundy told the Australian Financial Review that the move to appoint Malcolm Turnbull as simply Minister for Communications, as opposed to Labor’s title of Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, would anger the IT sector.

“There’s always a great deal of symbolism in having the portfolio title, but beyond the symbolism there’s a great deal of substance,” she told the newspaper after Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott’s announcement of the new ministries on Monday.

“The digital economy had its own division in the department; we don’t know if that will change or go, but the perception at least is that it’s a downgrade of the status of both broadband and the digital economy.”

Abbott told reporters while there was no specific innovation or science minister in the announced portfolio, responsibilities for the CSIRO would fall under Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane.

“There are very few portfolios around the world in modern governments that don’t talk about the broader digital economy and taking it straight back to communications,” Senator Lundy said.

“There would be grave concerns in the IT sector about their future and the way this new government is perceiving their relative importance.”

Some lobby groups on the other hand have given a seal of approval to the new ministry.

Australian Information Industry Association CEO Suzanne Campbell told iTWire in a statement that the group looked forward to the new appointments.

“We are particularly pleased to see the appointment of Malcolm Turnbull to Minister for Communications and Paul Fletcher as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications,” Campbell said.

“Both Mr Turnbull and Mr Fletcher have been strong advocates for the digital economy whilst in opposition and understand the important contribution ICT makes to Australia’s productivity and global competitiveness.

"We look forward to working directly with the new Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary to achieve success in rebuilding business confidence and driving productivity for the good of Australia’s global competitive future."

Paul Fletcher was the architect behind the Coalition's bungled Internet filter policy.

Meanwhile a spokesman for the Australian Computer Society told the AFR that the name change wasn't an issue.

“Whatever the name is, as long as we’re focused on increasing digital literacy and building skills, those are the important things,” they said.

“We’ve long said that there’s a skills shortage and whichever government comes in needs to work hard to get ICT education back to the forefront so that we’re building the future of the IT workforce in Australia.”

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