[LINK] Alston opens the pork barrel
Wed, 31 Oct 2001 15:25:27 +1100
Alston opens the pork barrel
By Gerard Norsa
SYDNEY - 31 October 2001
Ignored for the majority of the time, Australia's IT community is receiving
some rare attention from the political arena in the lead-up to the Federal
election on November 10. This week the Federal Minister for Communications,
Information Technology and The Arts, Senator Richard Alston, has opened up
the pork barrel, announcing funding boosts in South Australia and Victoria.
The Liberal Party minister also found time to fire a political backhander
at the opposition Labor party for its stance on parallel importing.
Three separate press announcements yesterday introduced information and
communications technology to the government's campaign agenda. Firstly, the
opposition copped a blast in response to its "Knowledge Nation" initiative
after it announced intentions to roll back recent government reforms on the
importing of CDs, which have opened up the market to parallel importing.
Labor's intention to stop the flow of cheaper parallel imports for CDs,
including software, by returning to regulated supply through local
manufacturers, saw Alston let rip at Labor leader Kim Beazley.
"This retrograde step by Labor makes a mockery of Mr Beazley's empty
rhetoric about a Knowledge Nation," Alston said. "Labor has still not
realised that the Internet is rendering domestic distribution monopolies
obsolete as consumers buy straight from the Net."
Meanwhile, in excess of $5 million of spending has been approved by Alston
for telecommunications funding in rural and remote South Australia under
the $500 million Networking the Nation initiative. In addition, Alston
announced $658,200 will be pumped into Melbourne universities for the
upgrading of research facilities.
In South Australia, funding has been approved for more "telecentres" at
Yorketown, Morgan, Coffin Bay, Elliston, Cowell and Streaky Bay. $166,000
is also being made available for the construction of an outback telecentre
network, which will provide remote communities at Marree, Yunta, Oodnadatta
and Mintabie with access to online services and information.
The biggest allocation of the $5 million is for the implementation of the
Local Government Information Economy Strategy. Receiving $4.472 million of
the total, this project "will deliver a one-stop shop for the wider
regional community to access local government services . . . if the
Coalition wins government", according to Alston.
In Melbourne both the University of Melbourne and RMIT will benefit from
new grants to be spent on research facilities. RMIT will receive $508,200
in 2002 to purchase equipment and software to establish and fit out a new
facility. Melbourne University will receive $150,000 over three years to
develop a database of Australian and overseas scholarships and studies that
are relevant to Australian students studying abroad and overseas students
studying in Australia.
This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.
-- Winston Churchill