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ZDNet Australia Interviews Richard Alston 138

Posted by timothy
from the big-country dept.
ynotds writes "ZDNet Australia has an interview with notorious Australian IT Minister Senator Richard Alston which could even be read as suggesting that he, like some others in the Australian government, has learned a little about his portfolio during his 7 years at the helm. He responds openly about his censorhip regime, lack of action against spam and his antipathy towards Electronic Frontiers Australia but refuses to get into details on cyberterrorism response and security expenditure."
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ZDNet Australia Interviews Richard Alston

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  • But it's actually a hard job with the consumers wanting the impossible ("It must be our RIGHT to have FREE UNLIMITED broadband") and the telco's & ISP's (unsurprisingly) unwilling to give it.
    • But it's actually a hard job with the consumers wanting the impossible ("It must be our RIGHT to have FREE UNLIMITED broadband")

      Exactly, who ever heard of something really useful that benefits the community, but expensive, being available for free. Like free roads. Or free education. Or free healthcare.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I recall paying for all of these roads and my education. Fancy that.
        Now who has ever heard of free taxes? I want some of those.
      • by sql*kitten (1359) on Friday November 29, 2002 @07:55AM (#4779260)
        Exactly, who ever heard of something really useful that benefits the community, but expensive, being available for free. Like free roads. Or free education. Or free healthcare.

        Free electricity? Nope.

        Free telephones? Nope.

        Free air conditioning? Nope.

        Nothing is free; it all has to be paid for somewhere. All the things you mentioned are paid for, by the taxpayer. The only people clamouring for anything "free" are the ones who have made the deliberate decision that taxpayer-funding will result in them getting more from the system than they have contributed, i.e. they want their personal luxuries to be subsidized by other people's work.
        • And those who genuinely think it's in everyone's best interests.
        • the decision that taxpayer-funding will result in them getting more from the system than they have contributed, i.e. they want their personal luxuries to be subsidized by other people's work.
          Crap. Having the Govt operate essential services means we're getting as close to 1:1 ratio between cash in and service out as possible (efficiency does suffer because there's no major incentive to make a profit; breaking even is sufficient). In the private sector, a small group of fuckwit executives and thousands of whining shareholders skim billions off the top and hoard it, benifiting nobody but themselves at the expense of a captive market.

      • But it's actually a hard job with the consumers wanting the impossible ("It must be our RIGHT to have FREE UNLIMITED broadband")

        Exactly, who ever heard of something really useful that benefits the community, but expensive, being available for free. Like free roads. Or free education. Or free healthcare.


        Yeah. Roads are fairly essential. Edumacation is pretty darn essential for a working society. Healthcare is essential (even if American's don't think so). I think broadband is in a different category. I certainly don't want to pay for your pr0n viewing pleasures with _my_ taxes.
        • I certainly don't want to pay for your pr0n viewing pleasures with _my_ taxes.

          You're starting to sound a bit like Mr. Alston. Keep in mind that roads, education, healthcare, etc all indirectly contribute to the manufacture and delivery of porn. Your taxes have already paid for other people's pleasure.
    • Alston looks like a walking cadaver and maybe that explains his lack of policies. Seriously, the current Australian government never compares itself with Asia, so Korean statistics don't mean anything to them. American comparisons, maybe, but beating the Poms (in cricket) is all that really counts to Little Johnny & Co.

    • First off Telstra's systems are basically owned by IBMGSA. I have worked as an independant contractor through EDS, IBMGSA and IBM-Biz as a developer/team leader on Telsra's internal IT systems from 95-2001. Telstra and MS are good mates, you cannot get Telstra to intall broadband unless the service man eyeballs an "original MS-Windows CD". Apparently the certifiacte that comes with an OEM machine in place of the CD is not good enough, anyhow I digress.

      When two of IBM's board members turned up on the Telstra board in the mid 90's, guess who got the megabuck five year outsourcing deal in the late 90's. IBM then spent the first three years documenting and testing everything. "Y2k & GST & CSG & LNP...", "its important", "gotta be done". "Pssst, Telstra you could make a truck load of your workers redundant and impress your new shareholders". "We will make offers to the key people with "Y2K" knowlage ( suckers ).

      Year number 4 sees IBM rewrite just about everything they could and re-arrange the org chart on a daily basis. By this time they didn't need expensive "contractors" ( read Alston's SME's ) because Telstra's systems were declared "Functionally stable".

      A cynic might say that they froze development and systematically dispersed the old corprorate IT knowlage as best they could in order to gain control. ( The employees refer to IBM as the "Borg mother ship" ).

      IBMGSA called it "diversifying skills" and "new challenges", had grand speaches about "mindshare" and played "who hid my cheese" videos to the troops.

      Suddenly the telecomms/IT market took a nose dive at the height of the re-org and everything turned to crap. The result, as I see it, is that Telstra's IT is now stocked with MS cerified TAFE graduates spending most of thier time on procedures designed to "push back on problems".

      There will never arise a multi-national IT company from Oz. As soon as one pokes its head up the US boys will just kick the crap out of it. What happened to EDS I hear you ask, well since MS already had the education franchise they went on to do the the South Australian Government and ( I think ) the Commonwealth bank.

      Alston is the Australian answer to Sergent Shultz ..."I know nothinnnnnnng, NuuuThink. H'er Comondant Johnny".

      Alan Mortimer.

      BSc, Computer Science.

      Melb,

      Australia.

      BTW. I do not make any representations for the above companys. But I do appreciate the income they gave me for a while. Politians who want my vote are fair game for comic relief :o).

  • by netsharc (195805) on Friday November 29, 2002 @06:07AM (#4779046)
    You know what I just heard? ZDNet Australia has an interview with notorious Australian IT Minister Senator Richard Alston [zdnet.com.au] which could even be read as suggesting that he, like some others in the Australian government, has learned a little about his portfolio during his 7 years at the helm. He responds openly about his censorhip regime, lack of action against spam and his antipathy towards Electronic Frontiers Australia [efa.org.au] but refuses to get into details on cyberterrorism response and security expenditure.

    Go read it!
  • amazing... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gavin Rogers (301715) <grogers@vk6hgr.echidna.id.au> on Friday November 29, 2002 @06:08AM (#4779052) Homepage

    Considering the drivel Alston normally comes up with, this interview seemed to be quite good. Anyone involved in the Australian IT and/or telecommunications industry would be honestly shocked and amazed that Senator Alston even knew what 'spam' was! (even if he still doesn't read his own email)

    • by darkov (261309)
      the Australian IT and/or telecommunications industry would be honestly shocked and amazed that Senator Alston even knew what 'spam' was!

      He does: "It's what broadband gives you besides games and pornography."
  • ye, anyone can laugh at him and say: "you stupid.", but he is one of the men who get the real profit. fudge the threat and get the budget, old trick.
  • I read the interview, and it was full of nomral political mumbo jumbo. Never say no to anything... just say that we are looking into it or whatever. For example, the pricing and Telstra.... I mean I can't really see what was so newsworthy in it to put it onto slashdot.Slow news day?
  • by newsdee (629448) on Friday November 29, 2002 @06:22AM (#4779089) Homepage Journal
    Do you regret making the comments that broadband in Korea is being driven primarily by demand for porn and games?

    Has nobody told this guy that porn and games drive demand for the Internet in the whole world?

  • by MavEtJu (241979) <slashdot&mavetju,org> on Friday November 29, 2002 @06:23AM (#4779090) Homepage
    ...then they complain about the amount of overseas traffic. Can you add one to one?
  • freedom of speech (Score:3, Interesting)

    by katalyst (618126) on Friday November 29, 2002 @06:27AM (#4779094) Homepage
    Hypocracy.. why do countries/polititians claim they advocate freedom of speech , when they don't. Certain issues like child pornography and terrorist organizations , I can understand. But, why should they want to censor anything else ? DO they like flexing their political arms,or do they just want to be noticed ? And why drag Korea into all this ? Korean companies anyways have a much stronger global presence than Australian companies.. except for beer ofcourse.... ;)
    • Because... the world is grey. It is difficult to define what is "good" and what is "bad" in absolute terms. Different cultures bring more variables in the picture. Somewhere, one has to draw a line and express an opinion, and invite fair debate to make sure we reach a common minimum agreement.
    • Korean companies anyways have a much stronger global presence than Australian companies.. except for beer ofcourse.... ;)

      When was the last time you watched the Simpsons? Next time you do, remeber that it was brought to you by an Australian company...
      • when was the last time you drove an australian car or used an australian manufactured home appliance ? LG, Samsung, Daewoo, Goldstar are all Korean companies. They may not be the largest, but Australian companies can't stand up to these cos. BUT Fosters(australian for beer)...has gr8 market presence.. no denying cheers
      • When was the last time you watched the Simpsons? Next time you do, remeber that it was brought to you by an Australian company...

        Ahhh, that explains why the Simpsons all speak in American accent, and live in Springfield, the most common name for a city in the USA. They also make fun of Australians in hilarious ways... as well as everyone else. But honestly, I think that many Aussies may not have seen those episodes.

        I think it would be better that you said that the Simpsons were BANKROLLED by an Australian corporation... not brought to you by them.

        After all, those are AMERICAN JOKES you're laughing at. You know. Those warhead Americans. Baby killers. But please, continue to bash away, telling us that were all like our "war mongering president" (and nevermind that most of America REALLY WANTS REVENGE, BIG TIME) that hasn't yet started a war... even after being attacked on American soil.

        Honestly, how many Bali blasts do you people need to understand that religious based racism isn't solely directed at the USA, but simply is the easy reference card for genocide?
        • Okay I'll pick this one up. You know something? Bali is not Australias fucking September 11, funnily enough Indonesia is a violently unstable country in its own fucking right. You should start reading you history before spouting off and trying to use a tragedy to support the unsupportable.

          Now before I get modded down I want to say this, you know why we laugh at the Simpsons down here? Because they represent the worst of the American self absorption. You people couldn't get your heads out of your butts long enough to realise why people around the world don't like you. And its not becuase you are the land of the free and the brave, its because your governments have done over nearly every thirld world country on the planet from the Middle East to most of Asia.

          For a country who says that you promote freedom and democracy you sure have a good knack for backing the biggest bastards on the block (can someone say Saddam for me).

          When you can come back with an a country that America has truly liberated and put on the path to democracy and freedom without screwing them over then you can talk.
  • I'd just like to point out the National Office of Information Economy Interim Report on Spam

    National Office of Information Economy,
    The Spam Problem and How it can be Countered - Interim Report
    , Aug 2002,
    [pdf] [noie.gov.au]

    While it is tempting to legislate Unsolicited Bulk Email out of existance (e.g. EU eCommerce directives), I think it might be better in the long-term for the governments to recognise the quasi-tribunal measures the private sector is establishing (SPEWS, RBL, etc). There's a test case in Perth at the moment (http://t3-v-mcnicol.org) which the government could take note of and if it gets to the appeal stage, might lead to de jure recognition of SPEWS and other abatement measures.

    LL
  • Quick summary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ihowson (601821)
    Alston is still a tool. Telstra still blows.

    Alston's opinion on broadband in Australia seems to be "we're doing better than other places". That's not necessarily a good thing. People aren't going to start taking advantage of it until it gets cheap and ubiquitous, and it's not going to get cheap and ubiquitous until lots of people start using it.
  • personally... (Score:4, Informative)

    by acehole (174372) on Friday November 29, 2002 @06:35AM (#4779113) Homepage
    I dont like him, he's doing nothing but damage to the net services in australia. The government is pushing to privitize the largest telecommunications company 'telstra', so what you might ask?

    Well for regional centres the access to broadband is less than adequate and if it is pushed to be a private enterprise company then the new owners might not bother with the regional centres because of the cost involved.

    • Well think about it once telstra is privatised, then they can allow other private companies in the field. I think this is the normal method otherwise the government enterprise bogs down any new companies that you want to bring. That's what was being done by DOT in India before they were split into several parts and privatised. Now I think things will be better in India.
  • Question (Score:3, Funny)

    by jsse (254124) on Friday November 29, 2002 @06:35AM (#4779116) Homepage Journal
    like some others in the Australian government, has learned a little about his portfolio during his 7 years at the helm. He responds openly about his censorhip regime, lack of action against spam and his antipathy towards Electronic Frontiers Australia but refuses to get into details on cyberterrorism response and security expenditure.

    Out of curiosity, where did you aussies pick up those people to run your Government? Law firms? Car insurance companies?

    Microsoft?
    • the luddite escaped from a community of ahmish ppl. (lucky for them...bad luck for us aussies that put up with his backward thinking for so long)
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Funny)

      by simong_oz (321118) on Friday November 29, 2002 @07:51AM (#4779251) Journal
      Out of curiosity, where did you aussies pick up those people to run your Government? Law firms? Car insurance companies?

      My first temptation was to mention George Dubya Bush, but I'm not sure if you're american :)

      But seriously (!), as an aussie who has spent a fair amount of time overseas, this is quite an interesting point. The attitude of the average australian to politics is hard to define - complete apathy is the closest thing I can think of but that's not quite right either. All I can say is that it's quite different from anywhere else in the world.

      (Yes, I do realise I'm generalising and oversimplifying here)

      All of the politicians and most of what they stand for are completely hated (that's too strong a word, but it will do). Australians have accepted that they care for nothing more than the next election and protecting their massive superannuation payouts. Whenever a politician speaks, they are just dribbling the same bullshit (read the interview carefully - is any of the questions actually answered?) and lies, and nothing worthwhile is actually going to happen.

      Australians seem to realise that no matter who is elected, they will do the same crap job as whoever was in power before. If the same major party is elected they'll do the same crap job, if the other major party is elected they'll spend 3 years undoing what the previous government did and accomplish nothing anyway. There seems to be a genuine feeling that if every poiltician disappeared tomorrow Australia would actually be better off as a country.

      The upshot of this attitude to politics is that nobody with the slightest grain of intelligence wants to be a politician, so we get people like Richard Alston. You just have to look at our prime ministers over the years ... ye gods
      • Re:Question (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hughk (248126)
        An aussie was heard to remark that anyone going to their parliament should first spend a couple of years in prison - it saves time later. Regrettably after a series of scandals, corruption and incompetence seems to be acceted as the norm of political life.

        I would certainly agree that politician may be above child pornographer in the Australian list of professions, but not by much. I mean there are political scandals in every country, and incompetent politicians too (who can even be elected president) but the problem of disrespect seems particularly high in Australia.

        • Yes, Alston is incompetent, but corruption (in the traditional sense) is a bit harsh. Compared to the US, the level of out-and-out corruption in Australian politics is relatively low - for the simple reason that you can't buy individual votes like you can in the States (parties virtually always vote as a bloc).

          The other thing that should be pointed out is that the policies Alston implements are probably not entirely his own views. He has them imposed from above (the Prime Minister and the rest of cabinet) and below (the Liberal parliamentary caucus imposing things on Cabinet occasionally), and he just implements them. Blame the government as a whole, not Alston. He's just the schmuck that drew the short straw.

          • Re: corruption, a number of them were caught rorting their travel expenses, including one who got off because he had a note from his doctor saying that he only had three months to live. (This was a few years ago now.) The only reason they stopped flinging those accusations back and forth was because Nick Sherry's suicide attempt gave them an excuse... too many people being damaged on both sides, and neither side wanted any more blood drawn, figuratively or literally.

            I don't imagine pork-barrelling your party's electorates really counts as corruption, but it's pretty odious at the best of times, and both parties have been guilty of it (the 'sports rorts' affair for Labour, the Federation Fund for the Liberals).

            Also, Howard's "Code of Ministerial Conduct", introduced after he took office, was a bit of a laugh, as it kept on being violated and he wouldn't do anything to the guilty parties. His Resources Minister owned a load of coal shares and his Small Business Minister ran a few shopping centres on the side.

            There's always Crikey [crikey.com.au] if you want more, mostly true, dirt on Aussie politics.

            • Don't forget such great moments as:

              [in no particular order other than the one I remember them in]

              * Paul Keating & his pig farm
              * Joh Bjelke-Peterson (pretty much every time he opened his mouth)
              * Bob Hawke - "By 1990 no child will live in poverty"
              * Bob and Blanche
              * Bob Hawke playing cricket with the PM's XI
              * Little Johnny playing cricket with the PM's XI
              * WA Inc, Alan "I'm not your bitch" Bond, Laurie Connell and Christopher "wheezey" Skase
              * Jeff Kennett's regime
              * Pauline Hanson and One Nation
              * Senator Brian "Don't let me catch you looking at naughty pictures" Harradine
              * The speaker of the house who got an enormous injury payout because he fell off his bike

              wait, maybe I do understand where all that political apathy comes from ...
              • * Joh Bjelke-Peterson (pretty much every time he opened his mouth)

                The man who perfectly summed up benevloent dictatorship: "Don't you worry about that." :/

                NSW police corruption up until the mid-1990s* (e.g. Blue Murder, etc.) is probably the most serious endemic corruption I can think of, along with JB-P's reign in Queensland. I am, however, worried by the politicisation of the Public Service, as we saw prior to the last election, with public servants not passing on information that their bosses would have found it politically unfortunate to hear.

                (*I actually think that NSW police corruption hasn't been fully wiped out, but that the reforms have made it harder for those involved to work the way they were.)
          • Hmm, I wasn't being specific there but commenting upon the general disregard with which Ozzie politicians are kept. If expectations were higher, mybe better people would enter politics.

            I agree the rot starts at the top and spreads downwards.

          • While you may not be able to buy individual votes, the HDTV debarcle [abc.net.au] shows that the owners of the major media networks can buy laws that protect them from competition.

            HDTV is designed to distract the average consumer from the fact that the government has legislated away the possibility of using the spectrum much more efficiently allowing a lot more competition.

      • nobody with the slightest grain of intelligence wants to be a politician

        Hey, Abraham Lincoln was pretty cool! (grin)

        Trust me, people though politicians were tools back then, too. It's an American vice to think that you can rag on a profession like politicking or teaching and expect it to magically improve. Then again, the criticism liberates us from responsibility for our political apathy.
      • All of the politicians and most of what they stand for are completely hated (that's too strong a word, but it will do). Australians have accepted that they care for nothing more than the next election and protecting their massive superannuation payouts. Whenever a politician speaks, they are just dribbling the same bullshit (read the interview carefully - is any of the questions actually answered?) and lies, and nothing worthwhile is actually going to happen.

        Funny, this is how quite a few Americans feel about our politics, particularly after the last election...

    • Re:Question (Score:1, Funny)

      by poo203 (305282)
      dude...the same place you get your politicians....the universal pool of slime.....
    • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

      by Idarubicin (579475)
      Out of curiosity, where did you aussies pick up those people to run your Government?

      Disclaimer: IANAA (I am not an Australian).

      The ministers that make up the Australian Cabinet are selected from the elected Members of Parliament in the ruling party. I imagine that they are chosen by the Prime Minister in consultation with his party. As in many other UK-style parliamentary democracies (ie England, Canada, etc.) there is little public input into the selection of ministers--though unpopular choices will often be shuffled off into other posts fairly quickly.

      Deputy ministers hold unelected staff position, and they are usually the ones that actually have a good understanding of the portfolio and deal with it on a day-to-day basis. Some ministers are more clued-in than others.

      There is no equivalent to the Senate confirmation process that exists in the United States, which is something of a mixed blessing. There isn't any public debate about choice of ministers. On the bright side, you have to option of not reelecting particularly annoying Ministers.

      The system has its flaws--but it does mean that anyone who holds a cabinet post has had to win an election. In the States, I note that the current Attorney General was nominated shortly after losing his election bid to a dead man. (In principle, IIRC Ministers do not have to be sitting Members of Parliament, but this is almost unheard-of. A Minister without a seat would not be able to speak during government debates--utterly a sitting duck. The Opposition would eat him alive.)

      • Disclaimer: IANAA (I am not an Australian).

        That's OK, it's not your fault :)

        The system has its flaws--but it does mean that anyone who holds a cabinet post has had to win an election.

        In theory, this is correct, but in practise, particularly when it comes to ministers, it doesn't really work that way. Australian politics is effectively a two-party system - Liberal and Labour. Although there are minor parties (Democrats, Nationals) and the rare independent, because of the preference system (and voting in Australia is compulsory) they tend not to pick up many seats, though they can have a major effect through their preference allocation. Also, some seats are much safer than others. Often the cabinet ministers can be moved around into these seats if they are in danger of possibly losing their own seat (Kim Beazley did this I think - his old electorate were mighty pissed off with him for it too). Some of these seats are so safe that the voting there is really a foregone conclusion. In effect, these could be considered a "free" election win.
        • Australian politics is effectively a two-party system - Liberal and Labour.

          Nitpick: That's Labour and the Coalition (Liberal and National parties).

          If the upper-class city-folk and country bumkins didn't work together, the flaming unions would be running the show..

      • In principle, IIRC Ministers do not have to be sitting Members of Parliament, but this is almost unheard-of.

        That's wrong, there is a constitutional provision (s 64) that requires ministers to be members of Parliament, at least at Commonwealth level. Non-members may hold a ministerial position for a period of up to three months without being an elected MP, but this is to allow continuity of government during election periods, during which Parliament (or, at least, the House of Representatives) is dissolved and doesn't technically exist.

    • ...where did you aussies pick up those people to run your Government? Law firms?

      From memory, I beleive that over 50% of the politicians in Australia are lawyers. Don't know what the percentage is in other countries.
  • Are they going to censor Yer Sex [tilegarden.com]? If so, I dont know how the hell I am going to find out what I am.
  • http://www.whirlpool.net.au is where us aussie ppl have our bitch session about the state of broadband in oz. It contains all of the blunders by telco's that we have put up with for the last few years!
  • by dagg (153577) on Friday November 29, 2002 @06:56AM (#4779153) Journal

    Q. Why isn't there a single successful Australian IT company competing and shining on the world stage? Can you name one?

    A. I think that's a bit misleading in some ways. I don't know if you should put all your eggs in one basket. In many ways it's better to have a series of smaller companies coming through.

    ... That is truncated. I agree with that statement. The net was probably better off in the US when there were many small ISP's (rather than just AOL, AT&T, etc).

    --

    your sex in america [tilegarden.com]
  • For those who are not familiar with the infamous Senator, his profile can be seen here [dcita.gov.au].

    Eat me like a sausage!
  • by danny (2658) on Friday November 29, 2002 @07:34AM (#4779221) Homepage
  • The full story (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 29, 2002 @08:07AM (#4779283)
    For those overseas readers who dont know, senator alston is the minister for technology in Australia, he has copped alot of flack for issues regarding Telstra, and the infamous 3g cap imposed by the company on the users.

    Senator alston is famous for quotes such as "Broadband is only used for pornography" and "3 gigabits (note bits) is enough for everyone".

    He was the head of a 4 million dollar investigation of how spam affects australian businesses. A 98 page report was the output of 4 million dollars of Tax payers money.

    I personally believe that he is out of touch with technology, and is being hand fed statistics and information by australias technology corporations, in their favour.

    Without the necessary infastructure, Australia as a country can not expect to keep their IT professionals in Australia.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Mary had a little lamb,
    She tied it too a pylon,
    10,000 volts went up its bum,
    And turned its wool to nylon.
  • Alston should simply not be in the role he is in, somebody with a 'clue' should be.

    I rarely rant, but I truely think his attitude is 'ignorance is bliss'.

    Stupid amounts of Tax payers money is wasted on reports that seem to favor the big T (Also know as Telstra) One can be cynical into thinking this is done to "fatten up" Telstra for the rest of it to be sold to the public as shares.

    For those who dont know, and its probably been covered above, Telstra is the largest telecomminications and data carrier in Australia - Has a Monopoly on 80% of all comms infastructure, originally owned by the Taxpayers of Australia, the government saw it fit to sell it back to us!!
    1/3 of Telstra remains in Government hands.

    Genius, like it to you buying a VCR, somebody stealing it from you and then offering you to buy it from them, effectivly paying for it again..

    Crazyness..

    • Genius, like it to you buying a VCR, somebody stealing it from you and then offering you to buy it from them, effectivly paying for it again..

      The day after the hugely successful initial sale of shares (25%? 33%?), a female comedian on the radio made a similar analogy. I think it was Judith Lucy on Martin/Molloy, and she likened it to going down to the pawn shop the day after your house was burgled to buy all your stuff back.

      Of course the shares sold like crazy. It's always been ours, and we didn't want to see Telstra added to the already-too-long list of Australian companies owned/controlled by overseas interests. Nothing racist or xenophobic, we just want the profits to stay within the country.

  • When Alston's asked about censorship, he makes this comment:
    The simplistic notion that because you can't achieve 100 percent success in closing off any particular Internet site is a reason for not doing anything is not an acceptable explanation
    (and similar words at the start of part 2)

    It looks like he views the imperfect solution as superior to doing nothing.

    But when asked about spam, and plans to legislate about that, he says:
    If it's interfering with the critical infrastructure I suppose yes, but if it's interfering with normal commerce - well, you do what you can. But you don't want draconian solutions that are worse than the problem. It's a nuisance at the moment but if it started to clog up the system then we might have a very different view.
    (Really not sure exactly HOW much spam would be "clogging up the system"!)

    These statement seem inconsistent to me. What do others think?
    • Alston and the rest of the government almost certainly know the internet censorship system doesn't work. However, they don't care. It was only ever about placating a nutball Christian fundy Tasmanian Independent Senator in the (misguided) hope that he'd support the privatisation of Telstra, and to a lesser extent keeping the nutball Christan fundies in his own party happy. They believe the problem is solved, all the local pr0n moves its hosting offshore, everybody and their uncle keeps on downloading pornography of every kind, Telstra itself keeps running a full feed of usenet porn groups. Everyone is happy.

      To reply to your actual point, yes it's a complete contradiction. However, the sector of the population who care about IT policy (beyond the ridiculous debate about "selling Telstra") is vanishingly small, and probably vote solidly Labor anyway. So Alston can do what he pleases on every other IT and communications issue.

  • by natslovR (530503)
    Im an Australian living in London and suffered under Australia's broadband reigme for many years before moving here (during the days of the 100meg per month 'external' caps on telstra for example as well as during the introduction of their 3gig cap)

    While a lot of slashdot readers won't appreciate this, I read that article over my £29 unlimited broadband connection. That's not cheap for England, nor is it unusual.

    To even start to pretend that Australia's broadband is better than what is available in England is a load of rubbish. For less than the price of a full-priced computer game or a full priced DVD i have unlimited broadband. The same price in Australia gives me access to a continually failing service with a 3gig cap. If i want to download more than 3gig on the major provider i'm looking at a bill four times the monthly cost. Pretending that 'purchasing power' has something to do with the perceived value of broadband is a load of rubbish. Not only is the broadband deal in England far superior than in Australia on a 'purchasing power' basis but it's far better when just doing a direct currency conversion.

    • You might have spotted the following subtle differences between Britain and Australia:

      o Australia is slightly smaller than America, but has a population of 20 million.

      o Britain is slightly smaller than Oregon and has a population of 60 million

      o Britain has a large amount of transatlatic bandwidth installed, and is conveniently next door to continental Europe.

      o Australia is fscking miles from anywhere.


      Now taking the above facts into consideration perhaps you could think about why broadband access is more expensive in Australia than London? You might also consider that when I am at home 30 minutes ride from Charing Cross on good old Connex South East, I cannot get broad band. That's right: scarcely outside the M25 and broadband connections are simply not available.

      • I think you missed my point.

        Richard Alston, in the article, claims that Australian broadband on a 'purchasing power' basis is better value than broadband in the UK.

        As someone that's been a consumer of broadband in both countries my view is that what he's saying is a crock of shit.

        While in Australia using Telstra's 100meg internal limit on cable, then on their 'unlimited' cable, then on their 'unlimited' ADSL then on their 3gig cap i found the broadband experience to be horrible - Constantly worried about what you are doing, making sure you aren't breaking stupid rules, feelig restricted in what you can and can't do.. mind you this is referred to as Telstra's 'Freedom Plans'.

        I've now been using British Telecom's ADSL for over 6 months. I have no complaints and feel it is brilliant. I could be m,mistaken, there may be far superior broadband offering in the UK and else where in the world, but I spent too long in Australia on 'broadband' to have any complaints about BT's offerings.

        • Richard Alston, in the article, claims that Australian broadband on a 'purchasing power' basis is better value than broadband in the UK.
          Ah, I see now. Actually it was Management Consultants A.T.Kearney who said that, but either way 10 minutes with google prooves it to be, as you say in excellent Aussie style, a crock of shit.


          I am particularly confused as to how they have come to this conclusion when telstra advertises a 3GB per month connection at about £35, whereas in the UK an uncapped service at the same provision speed is £30. Taking into account purchasing power parity, the difference is much worse, as I imagine you have discovered when you bought your first pint in London. Apologies for being a patronising arse earlier.

  • What happens is you get some guy who's just moved from the city to a holiday resort, he can't get the broadband speed he wanted and he says it's an outrage.

    it's this kind of comment that senator luddite is famous for. internet is a luxury in the bush, sometimes you can't even even get a telephone line [telstraexposed.com]

    never mind that i had to wait 3 months for a landline, and I live in a large rural city

    fuck telstra, for their ongoing abuse and total and utter incompetence. animosity is an understatement

  • ZD: Are you aware then, of any complaints being made to the ABA?
    RA: I haven't read of any.
    I always suspected Richard Alston was illiterate.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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