[LINK] Nice place, shame about the IT ethic
Sat, 28 Oct 2000 10:38:56 +1100
Nice place, shame about the IT ethic
Saturday 28 October
While the ministers argue, our tech savvy is missing the connection to the
21st century, writes Jennifer Hewett.
Russ Bate admits he has a very personal sense of frustration when it comes
to the information technology industry in Australia. He doesn't want his
son - who's now doing post-graduate IT work at Monash University - to find
that moving permanently to the San Francisco Bay area is the only way to to
get a well-paid, interesting job in research.
Bate understands the lure well. He's the former head of the US technology
giant Sun Microsystems in Australia and now a vice-president for the
company's Asia-Pacific region. But he is passionately committed to the idea
of Australia's developing a thriving technology industry and right now
fears the possibility is passing the country by for a whole lot of little
What makes him even more frustrated is that he doesn't think Government has
a strategic plan to alter that equation at all.
"One of the reasons why Australia is still lagging in IT is that no-one
could look at the Australian Government - and this is probably true of both
parties - and say: 'we see their vision for Australia in the next 10
years'," he says.
"There's some hazy 1950s version of Australia about encouraging small
business and taking care of the unions and sorting out the waterfront but
there is not a great deal of 21st century initiatives. Compare that to
Ireland and Israel and US and even the UK."
It's a message that is getting louder and louder and coming from business
and financial markets and scientists. Australia is getting left behind in
the race to the future, according to this criticism. It risks becoming
irrelevant to the rest of the world other than as a nice, cheap place for a
John Howard and Peter Costello kept hearing versions of the same message
whenever they talked to all those international business leaders visiting
for the Olympics. And in the event that the Australian dollar heads below
US50c, that will inevitably become a huge domestic political problem as
well, complete with an electorate completely unprepared for some
unpalatable facts of life.
<snip lots to end>
Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want
to feel important. They don't mean to do harm. But the harm does not
--T. S. Eliot