The ICT industry couldn’t get a worse shadow communications minister than Nick Minchin, according to telecommunications analyst Paul Budde. Minchin confirmed that he has resigned from his role, effective at the end of next week.
The move followed a request from Minchin and shadow health and ageing minister, Tony Abbott, that opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull reconsider the Coalition’s policy position on the Federal Government’s emissions trading scheme (ETS).
Budde said Minchin had used his policies to undermine the National Broadband Network (NBN) rather than making a constructive contribution to the policy. “Minchin never came up with any constructive contribution to the NBN, his only aim was basically to undermine it, which he did with the ETS,” he said.
“I indicated to him all the elements where we could improve and put pressure on the Government to come up with better policies, but he never wanted to take that on board because it would show that he might have supported the NBN.”
Minchin was also criticised by Budde for being against the ICT industry and refusing to engage in any discussion with it. “[If Minchin had have] argued the best way forward for the industry that would have been great,” Budde said.
“His only aim was political gain and that is very destructive because [the NBN] is in the national interest, not there to favour a political group ... and this position made it totally impossible for anybody to use the Opposition as a channel to get a better outcome.”
Budde fears the same political line of thought may be carried on if “ultraconservative” Abbot wins the battle for Liberal Party leadership.
He cited his “excellent” relationship with former communications minister and Liberal Senator Helen Coonan and said the ICT industry could work with her.
“Coonan and [former shadow communications minister, now communications minister] Stephen Conroy shared the notion of national interest and there was enough common ground between the two parties at the time, that the ICT industry could live with both,” Budde said.
However, Budde doesn’t believe the resignation of Minchin leaves a big enough window for the Government to pass its controversial Internet content filtering scheme.
“There is widespread industry opposition against this policy and we don’t need the liberal party to support the industry there,” he said.
Speaking previously to <i>Computerworld</i>, Budde said the Federal Government’s lack of communication on its Internet content filtering scheme, and its refusal to set a date for the release of its findings, suggested that the plans had been shelved.