Labor’s spokesman for Media and Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy seems to have let slip some details of a central plank of Labor’s forthcoming election campaign in Brisbane last week.
Conroy’s office is now refusing to release his speech, saying it has not yet been “cleared”. It seems Conroy might have jumped the gun on what is probably planned as a big campaign announcement with all the usual bells and whistles.
Fortunately, the people who were there have good memories.
Conroy was speaking to a seminar held by the Australian Information Industry Association last Friday. He laid out a three tier platform of policy which he described as central to Labor’s plans to persuade Australians that it is the party of the future.
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The new item in what Conroy said was that Labor will fund a network of ten “innovation centres” in all states and territories, to act as incubators for new projects in information communications and technology.
As for the funding, some who were at the speech remember that he said $200 million would be spent over three years setting up these centres and running them – enough to make them much more than window dressing.
“There were lots of very big numbers thrown around,” says one who was there. “Real telephone numbers.”
Conroy told the AIIA that Labor’s investment in broadband and communications technology would be the single biggest ticket item that Labor would be taking to the election – and its main claim to being the party of the future.
The other items he detailed were Labor’s already released plan to invest with private industry in a national Broadband Fibre to the Node network, and a package of measures to improve skills in information and communications technology – broadly in line with programs already being run by the Queensland Government.
Those in the know in new media have been crying out for some time for policy that moves beyond the old argy bargy about ownership, regulation and the sad and sorry history of digital broadcasting. It looks as though Labor might be stepping up to the crease.