Democrats leave IT policy to the wire

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Democrats leave IT policy to the wire

No time for more than a brief outline.

The Australian Democrats ran out of time to write up a formal ICT policy before this weekend's election, but revealed they would side with the Government on broadband policy.

The minor party's IT spokesman Anthony David said the party had a "number of people interested in IT" but conceded it had run out of time to present an alternative policy to those of the major parties.

"We've spent a lot of time developing a wide range of action plans but we're running out of time [to issue our own formal ICT policy]," David said.

The Democrats issued its broadband position yesterday via a press release that threw the party's weight behind the National Broadband Network (NBN).

It criticised the Coalition for proposing something that "would have been welcome if they had released it a decade ago" but also saved some criticism for the Government, too, over its attempts to "sell" the NBN message during the campaign.

"[They've] done such a poor job in selling the idea to the public," he said, although he conceded Communications Minister Stephen Conroy had performed well on ABC Lateline last night.

He also said the Democrats would have "really liked to see [the Coalition] come up with something more imaginative" than their $6 billion plan, which David described as a "catch-up policy."

What the Democrats want

David outlined a brief broadband wishlist targeting the small business vote.

He sought symmetric internet speeds to allow small businesses to "share information between branch offices and customers" and financial "capital infrastructure" to be put in place to allow businesses to take advantage of a next-generation network asset.

"Capital infrastructure is needed so you can actually develop new industries and technology based on using the broadband network," he said.

David also called on Labor to drop its mandatory filter proposal because it ran "counter to the efficacy of the NBN".

He said content filtering should be a choice for consumers - whether they went with an ISP that had a filtered internet service or installed PC-level products. "That's what we advocate," David said.

The Democrats were fielding Senate hopefuls in every state and territory.

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