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  • Blog, Enterprise IT, Featured - Written by on Monday, February 18, 2013 15:15 - 51 Comments

    Qld’s new IT Minister has zero IT experience

    ian-walker

    blog Following the resignation of Ros Bates last week, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has appointed Ian Walker to replace Bates as the state’s Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts. One of Walker’s first responsibilities will be to examine ICT operations across the whole of the state government. Did we mention that Walker appears to have no experience dealing with information technology, given his extensive background as a 35-year veteran of law firm Norton Rose? Great. We’re sure he will be stellar at the post.

    I mean, it’s not like Queensland has had a running series of IT project and service delivery disasters or anything. We’re sure Walker’s personal interests in classical music and rugby league will aid him greatly in the role. Anyway, here’s the media release:

    “Premier Campbell Newman has announced the appointment of Ian Walker to the Queensland Government Cabinet, as Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts.

    The Premier said Mr Walker had deserved his promotion to Cabinet after performing strongly in his role as the Assistant Minster for Planning Reform. “Ian has the ability, experience and passion to be a strong Minister and his appointment is well deserved,” Mr Newman said. “Ian has successfully led the government’s planning reform agenda that has seen local government further empowered and red-tape cut.

    “As Minister, Ian will play an important role in overseeing initiatives to drive the arts sector across the state and ensure the arts is accessible for all Queenslanders. He will also drive the whole-of-government IT audit to better understand our capabilities and priorities and avoid another $1.2 billion health payroll Labor Party debacle.”

    Mr Walker said he was particularly excited at the prospect of once again being deeply involved in Queensland’s arts scene. “I have had a long association and love of the arts. As Minister I want to see all aspects of our lively arts scene – from high culture to broad community participation – given the exposure and support it deserves,” Mr Walker said.

    Biography

    Ian is the Member for Mansfield. He has a distinguished career in the legal sector, having worked in a prominent Queensland law firm since 1976 and becoming a partner in 1984. That firm has grown to become one of the world’s 10 largest law firms. Ian was Managing Partner of the Brisbane Office. Active in Queensland’s Arts scene, Ian chaired the Board of Queensland’s successful chamber orchestra the “Camerata of St John’s” between 2007 and 2011.”

    Image credit: Queensland Parliament

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    1. Posted 18/02/2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink |

      ONE minister for “Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts”!? Given his clear dedication to one out of those 4 titles, I think Queensland can kiss their hope for a quality whole-government IT audit goodbye.

      • Simon Reidy
        Posted 18/02/2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink |

        That was my first thought! WTF does IT have to do with the arts? Are they both not important enough areas to warrant separate ministers?! Oh that’s right, for the LNP, small government = good government *facepalm*

        • Frank
          Posted 18/02/2013 at 5:29 pm | Permalink |

          The arts portfolio more or less handles itself, it’s just given to one of the ministers as a token gesture so they can attend wine and cheese events.

          • Posted 18/02/2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink |

            While Premier for NSW, Bob Carr was also Minister for the Arts. This gave him the opportunity to appear at lots of gallery opening and the like.

            • Craig
              Posted 19/02/2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink |

              Current premier for Victoria, Mr Baillieu is also the Minister for the Arts.

      • Martin Stewart-Weeks
        Posted 19/02/2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink |

        So if you appreciate rugby and classical music you can’t make a good contribution to ICT policy? Silly.

    2. Josh
      Posted 18/02/2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink |

      In a perfect world a Minister would have experience in their portfolio, but it’s hardly required. Does the Treasurer need to have been an accountant? Does the Defence Minister need to have been a soldier? Does the Police Minister need to have been a police officer?

      I would think being a managing partner of a law firm would prepare him to be an effective leader of the department – the public servants (with experience in the industry) who actually do the work.

      • Tom
        Posted 18/02/2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink |

        I think it’s the point that there have been such massive failings in ICT projects across all levels- federal and state, that to have someone who doesn’t have experience in what they are doing is a poor choice.

        What is needed in the ICT space is someone who is a seasoned and successful (ICT) project manager that understands the needs the current and future needs across the whole of the ICT, to provide a vision for the state of Queensland to work towards.

        Changing technology requires an adaptable mind, and I personally don’t think a lawyer of his generation who has zero IT experience is the best candidate for this position. I would imagine having a boss who doesn’t know what you are talking about, just nodding or dismissing, not based on experience or knowledge, would become incredibly frustrating for those “with experience in the industry” below him.

        • Posted 18/02/2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink |

          “I think it’s the point that there have been such massive failings in ICT projects across all levels- federal and state, that to have someone who doesn’t have experience in what they are doing is a poor choice.”

          This is precisely the point I am making.

          • Adam Nelson
            Posted 19/02/2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink |

            I think you also need to take into account sometimes people in IT can’t handle what their doing

        • Josh
          Posted 18/02/2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink |

          I’m sorry Tom, I don’t agree with that at all.

          Someone with ICT experience (perhaps even a successful IT project manager as you say) is definitely needed to help draft a vision for the state. That person is more than likely a policy advisor. The Minister’s job is to task these experts with this investigation, and then review the recommendations provided in order to make decisions based on a number of different factors.

          If the new Minister frustrates those in his department by “just nodding or dismissing”, this is a failure of his management style. It has nothing to do with whether or not he has IT experience. I have worked under several CIOs/CTOs who frustrate staff in this way.

          Anyway, without meaning to be political, would a former staffer and union official like Stephen Conroy be a better choice? Conroy is after all a “complete master of his portfolio” according to Delimiter.

          • Frank
            Posted 18/02/2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink |

            If you look at the successful IT companies in the private sector, the CEOs/CIOs all come from a strong IT background. Tim Cook, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, etc.. I guess you could say Balmer is the exception to the rule, but even he has spent years in IT.

            Personally I believe the way to fix IT in government is not to shuffle the numbers (this whole move from contractors to ITOs for service providers), but to actually understand the needs of the departments, to understand when to buy vs when to build your own in house solutions, and to add some accountability to the contract management units. Out of those, only the latter can be done by someone who doesn’t understand IT.

            • Daniel
              Posted 18/02/2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink |

              Agreed.

              Alot of people in LNP/Liberal/Coalition party do not understand IT, they may boast about having Wireless/ipad or whatever, but that doesn’t mean they understand IT.

              Remember Tony Abbott: I am not a tech head.

            • Steve Hodgkinson, Research Director IT Asia/Pacific, Ovum
              Posted 18/02/2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink |

              Woaaaa! Steady on … (1) Whole-of-government ICT strategy has very little in common with corporate ICT strategy (2) Ministers are not executives … and most particularly in this case have nothing to do with managing ICT at an agency level.

              You are right to say that the solution is to understand how best to meet requirements at an agency level … but this is too simplistic a view to be effective from a whole-of-government perspective because the Qld government actually just doesn’t have the funding for each agency to operate autonomously for its own ICT … but shared and whole-of-government approaches have also proved problematic. Its a Gordian Knot of some difficulty …

            • Josh
              Posted 18/02/2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink |

              Frank, agree with your thoughts on the requirement to understand the needs of each department etc. But again that’s not the Minister’s job. That’s the job of advisors or the public service, or even better the newly appointed QLD CIO (http://delimiter.com.au/2012/01/16/new-qld-cio-defends-govt-it-debacles) who seems to have a lot of IT experience.

              The reality is that in the Westminster system a Minister doesn’t need to have a background in their portfolio in order to be effective. To suggest otherwise displays a misunderstanding of the Australian political system.

      • Darren
        Posted 18/02/2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink |

        Must agree! While it would obviously help to have an IT background – is it really required? Really you just need someone that is good at managing a project and knows how to stop the zero’s adding onto the price tag – something previous IT ministers in state governments haven’t been very good at!

      • Stephen H
        Posted 19/02/2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink |

        Actually, having a minister who does have a strong background in his portfolio can create all sorts of problems. The minister for health is a doctor? Then they are likely to be turning to the AMA for answers when nurses or other professional health practitioners might be more appropriate. The Attorney General is a lawyer (almost certain, given the proportion of politicians who are ex-lawyers)? Then they will manage their portfolio based upon that background.

        What a minister needs is a good head and good advice. They do not need a bunch of qualifications in the area for which they are responsible, and such qualifications can be the source of terrible decisions.

    3. Paul Thompson
      Posted 18/02/2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink |

      I guess we will find out. Let’s give the guy a chance (I suppose we don’t have a choice).

      I personally wouldn’t have made a gamble like this – Newman just seems to have really poor judgement. It is kind of interesting when you see the Federal Libs claiming the Mike Quigley doesn’t have the right background to lead NBNco…

    4. Posted 18/02/2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink |

      fail… a nurse to a lawyer. Go Pirate Party! Go Julian Assange!

    5. TechinBris
      Posted 18/02/2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink |

      No! *THWUMP*
      No! *THWUMP*
      No! *THWUMP*
      There’s no hope for us! *sob* *TWUMP*
      I will loose consciousness soon I hope. *sob* *TWUMP*
      Must hit head on brick wall. *TWUMP*
      All hope and reason for Queensland is gone. *sob* *TWUMP*
      The Insquistion has begun also. *sob* *TWUMP*
      Mandatory “Dob in a Mate” lectures. *sob* *TWUMP*
      Stasi State Police.*sob* *TWUMP*

      • Posted 18/02/2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink |

        You could plug for lower taxes and when they have sufficiently little money to spend… then it won’t much matter how they spend it.

        • TechinBris
          Posted 19/02/2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink |

          Oh Tel, you have no idea. Tsk.
          I lived once right next to the old East Germany. I wouldn’t champion the slide to what they lived under, as it is forever a promise never realized.
          Stop, think, look. Living in a “Paranoia State” or “Eternal Prosperity State”, will not achieve the ends you think it will, no matter how gilded the carrot dangled in front of you is. It will be what you least expect or want, no matter what the philosophy technically is. Too much of one thing without a balancing of the others is a recipe for disaster. Nature shows that in something as simple as your diet for a healthy body.
          Don’t believe me, read history and you will see it has more substances than that, that has been promised to you and that you likewise promise to others.
          Sorry.

    6. Steve Hodgkinson, Research Director IT Asia/Pacific, Ovum
      Posted 18/02/2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink |

      Steady on folks … give the guy a go.

      I actually don’t agree that an ICT project manager would necessarily make a good ICT Minister. What he really needs to do is to understand the core realities of the way State Governments operate in terms of the budget processes, agency-by-agency output management regimes, whole-of-government outcome regimes and the roles and accountabilities of both of central and line agencies. Once he understands this, he needs to ponder the data collected by the ICT review to get a grip on the situation and then poll the various and diverse views from selected trusted advisers about what the heck to do … and then make some decisions [assuming that he hasn't already screamed and run out of the building ...]

      None of this requires technical or project management knowledge … and in point of fact there is a danger in such knowledge because it inevitably comes with baggage and vested interests. Lets just hope that he has the discipline (and time) to study the mess in a thoughtful way and make some sound decisions.

      What you should pay attention to, and worry about, is who are the ‘trusted advisers’ that will be coming and going from his office …

      Steve ;-)

      • Posted 18/02/2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink |

        hey Steve,

        I actually disagree with you. Can we really expect a 35-year-lawyer to make a rational decision about whether to proceed with a whole of government email platform which is SaaS-based, outsourced hosted onshore, outsourced hosted offshore, insourced or other?

        These are technical decisions. And the Minister ultimately signing off on these policies should have the technical knowledge to make them. I don’t think relying on advice from the public service is going to cut it in this case.

        Just look at the difficulties we have in the Federal Attorney-General’s Department when it comes to poor understanding of technology at the Minister level.

        Cheers,

        Renai

        • Josh
          Posted 18/02/2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink |

          Renai, are you also suggesting that only a former doctor should be appointed Health Minister? I would think a lot of decisions made by the Health Minister are regarding matters that are quite technical and/or scientific in nature.

          What if that doctor was an orthopedic specialist? Would they be able to make decisions on which cancer treatment should receive funding, even though they don’t have any experience with cancer? Or would there need to be a “Health Minister – Orthopedics” and “Health Minister – Oncology”?

          What if that former practising doctor was a first term politician? Should they be made Health Minister over a 20 year veteran with a proven ministerial track record?

          • Posted 18/02/2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink |

            Personally, yes, I would feel much more comfortable if it was compulsory that all health ministers have been medical professionals of some kind (doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists) before being appointed health minister.

            • Stephen H
              Posted 19/02/2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink |

              At which point you have someone who already has a firmly established view of their portfolio’s “world”, and will likely operate based on that view while ignoring possibly better solutions.

              Ministers should be generalists, and rely on decent advice from their departments. Departments in turn should be giving the minister options and recommendations that are firmly based in an understanding of the portfolio’s requirements.

            • Northern Blue
              Posted 19/02/2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink |

              Doctors don’t make good administrators as their focus tends to narrow to what they know and they bias decisions appropriately. There are plenty of case examples out there around Australia. If you are asking, the same is so for nurses and other allied health qualified people. There is a skill to managing – correlations to qualifications doesn’t infer management ability. But then we just have to look at the parliments around Australia to see that in operation.

      • Posted 18/02/2013 at 9:50 pm | Permalink |

        Good idea. Harness the power of ignorance.

        To badly misquote Sun Tzu: “If you don’t the enemy and you don’t know yourself, then you never know, things just might work out.”

    7. Steve Hodgkinson, Research Director IT Asia/Pacific, Ovum
      Posted 18/02/2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink |

      Hmmm … maybe … I still think that Ministers need to be able to take advice and make their own decisions on a wide range of topics that they know nothing about … that is actually the job description. One day running a small business, the next running the Department of Justice, then the next the Department of Natural Resources and Fisheries … or whatever.

      If you use your email scenario, what ‘experience’ that a Minister could reasonably be expected to have would be helpful? Running an open source email server for an SMB? Managing a large centralised Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes installation in a corporate environment or government agency? If the guy was a techo we would have the Arts portfolio in despair because of his lack of cultural sensitivity …

      The danger in this case is that any direct experience that he would have would be more of a hindrance than a help because he would be familiar with solutions that have already been proven not to work … what Queensland needs is some fresh thinking that is informed by an independent external perspective.

      • Posted 18/02/2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink |

        “Hmmm … maybe … I still think that Ministers need to be able to take advice and make their own decisions on a wide range of topics that they know nothing about … that is actually the job description.”

        Generally I agree, but I think when it comes to technology, it’s a fundamentally different portfolio. In many portfolios its possible that there are two or more good options for many decisions. In technology, it’s often not the case. Often there is only one good path to follow; and following the wrong path can be technically disastrous.

        Taking the email example, in this case, I can imagine that it’s completely possible that Ian Walker has actually never head of “the cloud” and has no idea what “the cloud” might be. Yet, as we’ve seen last week in Victoria and before that in NSW, it is very likely that cloud computing, especially around commodity IT services such as email/collaboration, will be a fundamental paradigm guiding how state governments conduct IT service delivery and IT projects going forward.

        For this to occur, we need to see top-level buy in. Ministers need to get their hands dirty in this area and achieve a fundamental understanding of the change that needs to occur so as to sponsor controversial projects. We’ve seen this in NSW with Ministers Stoner and Pearce, and we’ve also seen it recently in Victoria with Rich-Phillips, who has had to undergo a radical overhaul in his understanding of the portfolio in a very short time. These are ministers who are pushing through entrenched public service habit to enact change, and very consciously doing so.

        In Queensland, not only is the state broadly behind when it comes to modern IT systems, it’s actually got a large amount of very public failures; it’s systematic, even. In this context, having to explain to a Minister what “the cloud” is is nothing short of a farce. There’s really no time to spare; right now Queensland needs an activist IT Minister who will work closely with the bureaucracy to help radically improve IT governance, as we’re seeing especially in NSW. With a lack of basic understanding of fundamental IT concepts — and even worse, with a conservative legal background behind him — is it likely that Walker will be this activist Minister, as we’ve seen in NSW and Victoria? No, it’s not likely at all.

        Without this kind of Ministerial buy-in, we wouldn’t be seeing the cloud computing trials we are seeing in NSW, which are being watched by the whole country. We wouldn’t be seeing the ambitious IT strategy unearthed in Victoria this month. We’d just be seeing more of the same stuff we’ve seen already.

        The best case scenario is probably that a neophyte IT Minister of this nature in Queensland won’t screw anything up further; that he will broadly go along with the broadly positive but overall quite conservative plans that the public service will put up. But in Queensland, which has demonstrated a systemic failure to deliver IT projects and services, it seems likely that this kind of ‘middle of the road’ path will still end in further disaster. Forget going backward, Queensland doesn’t need to stay where it is, because staying where it is would still be disastrous.

        For other examples of politicians who ‘get’ technology vs those who don’t, I suggest examining the way Senator Conroy has been hugely effective in pushing through with regard to the NBN, the way Ed Husic has been able to push forward with respect to IT price hikes, and the way Scott Ludlam is able to push the Greens’ message on surveillance and the Internet filter. In each case, these politicians’ understanding of technology enabled them to achieve outcomes; they weren’t coming at the situations new.

        I get what many people have said about Ministers not needing to be specialists but rather generalists. But generalists usually pick options which are safe, conservative and middle of the road. It’s usually those with deep domain experience — specialist ministers — who are able to make the right choices at the right time, regardless of whether those decisions are politically ‘brave’ or not. I don’t think this can be underestimated. Being right, at the right time, when many people think you are wrong, can be a very powerful thing.

        • PeterA
          Posted 19/02/2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink |

          Specialists can be just as risk averse. It is a personality trait; not a trait of experience.

          Personally? I wouldn’t touch cloud-anything, and I have been working in IT for 10 years now. In charge of both badly implemented/under-resourced in house technology projects, projects where work as been outsourced and the odd hosted “cloud” solution.

          The result? I am still more comfortable with things being in-house; despite the “SaaS” cloud computing utopia and despite some pretty bad in-house experiences.

          Why? Because I am risk averse. (I control one risk; whereas I am outsourcing control on the cloud-hosted risk.) Overall; having no influence (and generally little insight into) the risk of the cloud system increases my perceived risk of them.

          • Brad
            Posted 19/02/2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink |

            I’m with you on the Cloud hype Peter.
            My perspective is that if you can’t physically touch the hardware, you are not in control of it no matter what assurances and guarantees you may get from a provider.

            You don’t know what they may be doing to your systems behind the scenes, and if their servers happen to be offshore what legal jurisdiction do they fall under? I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that if the servers are based in the US then under the Patriot Act the US Government is allowed access to your systems.

    8. Paleoflatus
      Posted 18/02/2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink |

      What’s this about Cabinet ministers (or prime ministers) needing to know anything at all about their portfolios? I though that a basic law degree and a few years in either business, or a trade union was a good fit for any portfolio, or consultant. God help us, if they ever appoint anyone who knows what they’re doing! If you doubt that, just listen when they open their mouths and make fools of themselves.

      • Steve Hodgkinson, Research Director IT Asia/Pacific, Ovum
        Posted 18/02/2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink |

        Paleoflatus … its actually kind of an interesting discussion. The problem is that there are too many variables to juggle to end up with a perfect skill-set match between Ministers and Portfolios. Of course we don’t want populist plonkers with no intellect or managerial talent … we have too many of those already … but beyond this it is not so obvious that specific skills or knowledge are useful because of the randomness of portfolio assignments etc. and the necessity for the person also to be a ‘political animal’ in order to survive and wield influence in their portfolio. Without the ability to deploy power and influence the person is ineffective even if they are 100% on top of the content of their portfolio … so some ‘streetfighter’ skills are also a requirement..

        The most important attributes are intelligence, integrity, leadership and personal effectiveness … most other things can be learned on the job (necessarily so because a cabinet reshuffle is always just around the corner …)

      • Josh
        Posted 18/02/2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink |

        Paleoflatus, are you suggesting that a Prime Minister needs to be an expert in everything they will ever make a decision on?

        Where do you expect to find this IT professional/doctor/lawyer/engineer/accountant/architect/police officer/farmer/immigration officer/solider/diplomat/teacher/environmentalist/urban planner? Maybe a recruitment ad in The Australian?

        The fact is a Minister is a people manager who makes decisions based on recommendations presented to them. To suggest otherwise is living in fairyland.

        • Posted 18/02/2013 at 10:05 pm | Permalink |

          The whole point of having specialist portfolios is to give a bit of breathing room to allow the Prime Minister to be a something of a generalist. To some extent the reverse actually happens: the Prime Minister distracts attention, while the rest of them get on with governing (think Zaphod Beeblebrox here).

          With the ALP you never know who exactly supports any particular policy, because they all come out of a closed-door caucus. With the Lib/Nat it is perhaps a tiny fraction more transparent, at least Barnaby speaks his mind, even if none of the others do.

      • Paleoflatus
        Posted 18/02/2013 at 11:05 pm | Permalink |

        Of course I agree with both Steve Hodgkinson and Josh and I thank them both for their contributions. My only problem with them is that they both failed to read my posting carefully and instead jumped to conclusions, making their own distorted interpretations of what I wrote.
        It would be quite impractical to expect cabinet ministers to be as expert in as many fields as they suggest, but surely a background including courses and experience in administration would be beneficial to all and a firm grasp of scientific method and training in science or engineering would be a benefit in a technical portfolio. Something related, such a teaching, education, child studies or psychology might help in an education portfolio and I’d consider a medical practitioner trained in public health or hospital administration to be a likely candidate for the health portfolio, other things being equal.
        Claiming I meant that “that a Prime Minister needs to be an expert in everything they will ever make a decision on” is insulting and so silly that it doesn’t merit a reply, but the value of training and experience in administration, coupled with a firm grasp of scientific method might be an improvement on which we could agree.
        Stepping back from the immediate topic, I think it’s obvious that our present politicians come from too narrow a base and there’s no improvement in sight, unless we at least recognise the problem.
        I usually leave these discussions early, because comprehension does not seem to have been taught well, if at all, in schools for a long time and it’s tedious correcting misinterpretations and non sequiturs.

    9. Glenn
      Posted 18/02/2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink |

      “The most important attributes are intelligence, integrity, leadership and personal effectiveness”… Well no one from the LNP, or keen to work with the LNP, has any of those qualities in significant measure. Sadly, we’re stuck with the most bent state government since Joh, and if the mainstream media has it’s way, we’ll have the LNP in federally and this nation may never recover from the damage.

    10. Saul Caganoff
      Posted 19/02/2013 at 2:44 am | Permalink |

      Why is this even a ministerial function? Managing the IT resources of the state public service is a job for a CIO, not for some enthusiastic amateur. Why is there not a government appointed CIO?

      The government also runs a large and expensive fleet of motor vehicles. Is there a Minister for Car Pools?

    11. Ausgnome
      Posted 19/02/2013 at 6:56 am | Permalink |

      Just to be different, you may find that listening to the Public servant for a change rather than the highly priced consultants bought in. The change may surprise you

    12. Tony Healy
      Posted 19/02/2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink |

      Good God. How can anyone question this appointment? The man has close ties with the arts community. He can sip tea with the best of them while enjoying the huge Queensland arts industry, which contributed more than $550,000 to the Queensland economy last year.

      I’ve heard he has hired a very smart young chap to advise him on IT. He has a degree from LSE and, my goodness, the things he can do with his iPhone are just amazing. I’m sure Mr Walker will able to have a nice chat with IBM and those boring IT people to sort out the mess.

    13. Woolfe
      Posted 19/02/2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink |

      I am not overly concerned by the minister. I want to know about the people who will be advising him. Because they will be the ones making the decisions. He is just the poor sap taking responsibility for it.

    14. Steve Hodgkinson, Research Director IT Asia/Pacific, Ovum
      Posted 19/02/2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink |

      Hilarious discussion about something that we have no influence over, or knowledge about, whatsoever! Renai’s initial observation may well prove to be accurate, but the problem is that the Prime Minister or Premier only has the cards to play that were dealt in the last election.

      So … the solution is for you good tech-literate and wise people to get involved in local politics and you may eventually be elected to represent the people, and then the leader of the government may select you to handle the ICT portfolio … and then we could get this situation sorted … no? ;-)

      • TechinBris
        Posted 19/02/2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink |

        Put up or shut up? Is that what your saying Steve?
        Normally a lot of us here would step up to that challenge, but when the other side consistently prove they will stoop to the methodology of the “Dark Side” to win at any cost, I’d say there is not many of the Tech Literate who want to sink into such a morass of disgusting mire as that which Politician’s choose to play in. That is if they are sane and humane. The political game is the ultimate example of the word NASTY and is not logical these days.
        Greed though, is something else and can motivate a person to do strange and terrible choices.

      • nonny-moose
        Posted 19/02/2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink |

        as far as that goes it was a landslide to the LNP last go round, so they have way more ‘cards’ to choose from than an administration usually would.i personally find it hard to believe this was the best fit for the job in QLNP ranks.

        • Woolfe
          Posted 19/02/2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink |

          Doesn’t surprise me, there were 2 reasons they won the last election, one was they got a decent leader, the other was Labour(Dammit I am spelling it correctly) selling off the state assets. I am not sure which was the more influential.

          If they had of had a somewhat better party, instead of the mob of drongo’s they had been fielding, they would have taken the election years and years ago…. 10 at least by my reckoning.

    15. Simon
      Posted 19/02/2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink |

      Well considering the disgustingly high number of failed IT projects in Australia, as well as the high number of uneducated, unskilled and overconfident “people” that claim to be professionals in IT, I really am looking forward to seeing if someone from another background can encourage IT “professionals” to pull their heads in and actually do their industry justice. Would someone with experience in IT necessarily do a better job given our horrific history in executing IT projects?

    16. Posted 19/02/2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink |

      I think it is impractical to expect that Ministers will have expertise in their portfolio unless you changed the way that candidates are recruited ie provide details of your experience in all service delivery areas that are the responsibility of the particular level of government – local, state or federal and then be appointed to that portfolio if they win government.

      What the ICT portfolio really needs is a Minister who at least feels that ICT is important to government and the community on a whole range of levels and is willing to champion the ICT.
      At a government level they can:
      1. Ensure they get the very best advice from their department. This means ensuring that advice and recommendations are well researched, includes broad and appropriate consultation, well argued, demonstrates forward thinking and is aligned to the overall goals of the government.
      2. Understand the vested interest of everyone that provides advice and recommendations from within the government and outside.
      At a political level they can:
      1. Work collaboratively with colleagues, knowing that many whole of government ICT policies and strategies will impact each and every other portfolio.
      2. Be well regarded and have enough influence at cabinet to be able to present ICT recommendations and have them accepted and implemented.

    17. nonny-moose
      Posted 19/02/2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink |

      well i’ll pass on the debate re generalist and professional ministers. but i will just say that i fully expect this to be a bad appointment and if IT continues to be as badly served as it has been over the past decade im ready to say ‘told you so’. i have to say i really havent been impressed with whats been on offer from the ‘can do’ mob so far and given we are likely to be stuck with them for quite some time i hope they get their stuff sorted sooner than later.

    18. Posted 21/02/2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink |

      Having been a part of the IT world here in Brisbane for the past 20+ years and also being involved in the Queensland Government IT activities over this period, I often question comments that ministers appointed to portfolios are expected to have a back ground or training in that particular field. Many of the comments in this blog seen to allude to this point.

      Does Alan Joyce know how to fly a jumbo. I think we all know the answer to that however he does know how to run an airline (although some may also question that). Ian Walker may not have IT skills and I ask is this necessary when running this portfolio? In my option and based on past ministers performances, finding and managing very good people and understanding what is good for the departments to perform and how to get those good things, processors, people, as well as getting relevant well run projects started and finished is much much more important than knowing if a 128TB FCSAN ISCSI 100Mb/sec I/O back plane is good or bad for the department.

      My limited knowledge on Ian’s past leads me to believe he has the skill to get the right people on the bus and get them in the right seat. To coin a phrase from Jim Collins “Good to Great”. His results around the planning reforms in local government have already shown he can get thing done well and quickly.

      My call, give him a chance. Lets see if he can get good people around him so as to get the delayed audit results out as well as contracts like to services tender and other documents, processors, projects and directions that are currently way behind schedule and thus maiming our local Queensland IT suppliers.

      I for one wish him well.




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