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ICT industry responds to ministerial change

Peak Australian ICT industry representative body, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), has called on returning Prime Minister and leader of the Federal Labor Party, Kevin Rudd, to take action and restore industry confidence in the economy.

AIIA CEO, Suzanne Campbell, claimed the combination of excessive and, at times, heavy-handed regulation faced by the ICT industry in Australia, the associated costs, and the singling out of the ICT sector on visa issues, tax and pricing must stop in order for confidence to be restored. "If Australia is to be the leading digital economy it aspires to be, the government must demonstrate its confidence in the ICT sector taking that vision forward. This includes a focussed commitment to the role of the NBN and continued effort in driving take up and use by business and Government," she said.

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Campbell noted at a time when businesses' continued prosperity depends on their ability to leverage ICT, these issues should not be considered as insignificant but instead, as factors that will boost Australia's economic future.

"ICT is driving profound change across every aspect of our contemporary life; for all sectors, organisations and communities, the opportunity to leverage ICT to enhance their businesses, and their lives, is both unprecedented and tremendously exciting."

She also reiterated AIIA's strong support for the spirit and intent of 457 visa requirements following the announcement that the Labor Government's push to suppress the skilled worker 457 visa program has been imposed as a law.

"457 visas solve the immediate skills shortage issue local organisations are facing. The long-term solution to this issue is systemic changes in ICT education and skills development. This will take time and the industry must not be stalled in the meantime," she claimed.

On the other end, industry lobby group, the Competitive Carriers' Coalition, has thanked outgoing Minister for Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, for his service and achievements in the portfolio.

It said, in a statement, that Conroy entered office at a point when there was no apparent solution to the stand-off between Telstra, the rest of the industry and the government about how a modern broadband network could be rolled out across Australia; there was a problem of industry structure despite repeated attempts by policy makers to address the issue through new rules; as well as when the ACCC's powers were inadequate for the protection and encouragement of competition, and to advance consumer interests.

The Competitive Carriers' Coalition said Conroy "addressed all of those issues with bold and imaginative solutions" even though he faced enormous resistance from parts of the industry and the commentariat.

It added that the fundamentals of his policy reforms gaining bipartisan and broad industry support are a vindication of his efforts.

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