[LINK] Democrats lash out at endorsement of Gates
brd at austarmetro.com.au
Tue Jun 29 17:19:05 EST 2004
Democrats lash out at endorsement of Gates
By Sarah Stokely, SellDigital
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
The Australian Democrats have lashed out at John Howard's strong
endorsement yesterday of Microsoft and its founder and chairman Bill Gates.
Howard and Gates were sharing a stage in Sydney to announce increased
funding for the community computing project, Unlimited Potential.
Gates announced that Microsoft has upped its philanthropic investment in
Australia by $1 million a year for the next five years, spending $40
million on the Unlimited Potential program. Speaking at the announcement,
Howard hailed the Microsoft boss as the world's "most significant social
"Bill Gates is an exemplar to the capitalists of the world and the
successful businessmen and women of the world, that having received the
fruits of a free market competitive system, that we all have an obligation
to return some of that benefit to the less fortunate in the world and the
less fortunate within our own communities," said Howard.
While Howard thanked Microsoft and its founder for the donation, Australian
Democrats' spokesperson on IT, Senator Brian Greig, poured cold water on
the significance of the donation, and the motives behind it.
"Microsoft sucks $1 billion out of Australia each year just in licensing
fees," said Greig. "To return $40 million in five years is a drop in the
Grieg warned that government needed to keep perspective on the motives
behind corporate philanthropy, saying that the PM's strong endorsement of
Gates and his company -- which has been involved in lengthy anti-trust
suits in the both the US and Europe -- was "inappropriate".
"I suspect it's more to do with the Prime Minister's lack of understanding
of IT issues," he said.
"Bill Gates' philanthropy is always based in self interest. What this is
mostly about is marketing and PR," said Greig.
Gates' job was to increase returns to his shareholders, and the donation of
software through programs such as Unlimited Potential would help achieve
this by getting organisations to lock themselves in to a Microsoft software
environment. "That means money going back to Bill Gates," said Greig.
It wasn't a coincidence that Gates' visit coincided with a "slow but upward
trend" among organisations including the Tax Office and Centrelink to
migrate from Microsoft software to Open Source solutions, said the
Microsoft's Unlimited Potential program is delivered in partnership with
five community organisations -- The Smith Family, Inspire Foundation,
WorkVentures, Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association and Yarnteen.
The program will provide community based access and training on computers
and the internet. Its community technology learning centres will attempt to
stave off the "very significant digital divide" between those with access
to technology, and those without, said Gates. "If we didn't achieve it, our
technology would become divisive," he said.
Howard's endorsement of the corporate citizenship of Microsoft and its
chairman comes a month after the software giant lodged an appeal against
the $600 million fine imposed by the European Commission for monopolistic
In May, the US Department of Justice revealed that Gates agreed to pay a
fine of US$800,000 for allegedly failing to disclose an investment in a
Seattle area pharmaceutical company.
All philanthropy... is only a savory fumigation burning at the mouth of a
sewer. This incense offering makes the air more endurable to passers-by,
but it does not hinder the infection in the sewer from spreading
-- Ellen Key
can you all
brd at austarmetro.com.au
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