AIIA calls for digital economy election debate

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AIIA calls for digital economy election debate

Parties “bogged down” in filtering, broadband issues?

The Australian Information Industry Association has published an open letter urging political parties to clarify their technology positions on a make or break day for Australian broadband policy.

The association stressed the importance of high-speed infrastructure, highlighting last year's World Bank estimates that each 10 percent increase in broadband penetration added 1.2 percent to the annual GDP of high-income countries.

Also today:

  • Shadow communications minister Tony Smith announced the Coalition's broadband policy that relied on Telstra opening its backhaul to competitors to create a wholesale national open-access fibre network.
  • A 1pm ICT policy debate between Smith, Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

Association chief executive officer Ian Birks said both major parties "underplayed the high-level issue" of the digital economy.

"It will be disappointing if it [the debate] is bogged down in lower-order issues such as content filtering, broadband technology options and the like," Birks told iTnews.

"We in AIIA are hoping to highlight to need for a more informed debate on this critical issue for Australia's future prosperity.

"The short-term nature of the current debate could allow decisions following the election that will compromise our nation's future prosperity at a time when we should be investing for the post-resources period we will ultimately enter."

He criticised the Opposition for not making its ICT position clear. Labor had a clearer vision for the digital economy, he said, through its e-health, smart grids and Gov 2.0 policies.

But none of the parties' technology policies impressed the association.

"Sadly, at this late stage in the campaign, it is still too early to call [which had a good approach to technology]," Birks told iTnews.

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