Conroy mocks IT portfolio “campaign”


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today stated that he wanted to keep the Communications portfolio after the election if possible, and pilloried what he referred to as “a campaign” to champion an independent IT portfolio.

Various sections of Australia’s technology sector have speculated over the past few weeks that new Prime Minister Julia Gillard could split Conroy’s portfolio up — giving the IT part to Labor Senator Kate Lundy, who has demonstrated an enduring interest in the sector, and leaving Conroy with the National Broadband Network ball and regulation of the telco sector.

And technology publication Gizmodo launched an outright campaign after Gillard won the Labor leadership, to replace Conroy with Lundy. Yesterday Conroy stipulated that IT was not part of his portfolio, noting that area belonged to Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr.

“Keep the campaign going. Keep trying, have fun,” said Conroy this afternoon after being asked to clarify what exactly the “digital economy” part of his portfolio referred to. He was speaking at a press conference to launch the next stage of sites that the NBN will be rolled out to.

“There’s a document that is actually drawn up by the Prime Minister of the day. IT was not formally included … I don’t think it’s included anywhere specifically. And Kim Carr does IT in innovation. And I do Digital Economy, and yes there’s some overlap, and we jointly manage NICTA, for instance,” Conroy added.

“That’s the actually the facts, rather than a campaign to champion an IT portfolio.”

Conroy said if Gillard was to reshuffle the cabinet after the election, he would ultimately prefer to stay where he was. “I’ve sort of been with it from the beginning, and hopefully would like to see it through to the end,” he said.

“I’m very keen if the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, decides that she’d like me to keep doing this, I’d be very excited to keep doing this.”

Conroy pointed out that he drafted the original NBN proposal back in 2005 — when it was a 6Mbps fibre to the node proposal. It then grew to a 12Mbps policy, and then after the election, into the National Broadband Network policy that is currently seeing fibre laid around the nation.

“I believe there’s an enormous amount of work to be done, still needed, around the regulatory environment, and importantly, all of the challenges of delivering e-health, e-education, e-aged care, smart grids, all of those things, all [part] of the digital economy, all critically important,” he said. “This is the infrastructure that enables all of those things to become real,” he said of the NBN.

And as for the exact definition of the Digital Economy? “The digital economy, in my view, encompasses the entire economy,” Conroy said. “The majority of people don’t realise how pervasive the digital revolution is. It’s ultimately creeping up on them all.”

Video by Jenna Pitcher, Delimiter


  1. I’m always amazed how Conroy can talk right across a question, giving only the slightest impression of actually answering. His invention of a ‘campaign’ for an independent IT portfolio is nothing short of mind-boggling. There’s reality- then there’s Conreality. However, I do kind dig that he’s sounding a bit threatened that anyone would dare invade his patch.

    I’d like to take this opportunity to champion replacement of Conroy with a ceramic garden gnome. Preferably one with a red hat.

  2. Why not ask a follow up question of what he thinks what the definition of IT is? The so-called digital economy is a (good) by-product of IT.

  3. I love this bit: ““Keep the campaign going. Keep trying, have fun,” said Conroy this afternoon after being asked to clarify what exactly the “digital economy” part of his portfolio referred to.”

    Totally irrelevant answer to the question. I don’t think I’d be able to stop myself from breaking Cun…Conroy’s nose if I ever found myself in the same room as him.

    • I say this with the utmost respect, the man has no idea his surname’s become synonym for ‘bad joke’ within large chunks of the industry…

        • Was thinking about it, then recalled commentary yesterday that (by and large) Telcos are happy with how he’s dealt with Telstra since Trojillo left, that’s fairly hard to argue against. About only thing the bloke has going for him.

  4. Excuse the language, but what a smug (yet paranoid) little clueless prick.

    There is no dealing with someone like this – you’ll never get him out of the little imaginary reality that he’s built for himself. The only solution is to convince Victoria to vote him out.

    It’s just a shame he didn’t go one step further and actually defame some of the journos, it’d be nice to at least see his face (amazing resemblance to an arse) when he gets smacked with a civil lawsuit.

  5. Can we please have a minister who holds some IT credentials such as a Cisco cert or even a basic level IT cert? In other words, a minister who knows what hes talking about and not some arogant toolbox who knows nothing and refuses to listen to expert advice? Maybe make it a manditory requirement. Conroy is a troll who will never leave office without either being voted or kicked out. So far I havent seen any credible execution that would indicate Conroy is fit for his current role.

  6. I reckon they should make him Prime Minister. He would lose most of his power, be much more visible publicly, and would be knifed within a couple of months and be gone for good.

  7. Communications and Internet are inseparable. They are technologically interlocked.

    Conroy obviously doesn’t understand how the Internet works, based on technological flaws making it impossible to achieve his claims with his filter.

    Keep comms and Internet together, and get rid of Conroy.

  8. The Mandatory Censorship policy that Conroy and friends are implementing will completely destroy Australia. Already countries around the world are HORRIFIED ad the proposal, calling Australia “undemocratic” and likening our government to that in Iran, Saudi Arabia, China.

    Do you *really* want to live in an oppressive society? Where the politicians will happily implement a policy which *ENCOURAGES CHILD ABUSE (by ignoring the problems – “LALALALA I can’t see any, therefore it doesn’t happen”) rather than FUNDING the Federal Police sufficiently to actually *STOP CHILD ABUSE*?

  9. I’m quite fascinated that people want to equate “Internet” with “IT”. IT as a Government policy area is actually about that industry as a productive industry in its own right, that is the software industry, the harware industry we barely have, the innovation embedded in thingslike wireless standards.

    It was always part of Industry till it was rested from it by Richard Alston who proceeded to do noting with it. It belongs with Kim Carr in Industry as that is, after all, the portfolio that actually covers innovation. By all means promote the cause for a junior Minister of IT within Industry, but equating the Comms portfolio with IT just doesn’t fly.

    As for Conroy’s definition of the Digital Economy he is spot on. The technologies that are encompassed by the word “convergence” – including the Internet – are what the pointy heads call “General Purpose Technologies”, just like the internal combustion engine they fundamentally change all the processes of production and social engagement. And their biggest impact s in the bits being carried (communications) not processed (IT).

    The Digital Economy part of Conroy’s portfolio is simply ensuring that the Australian economy and society achieves the maximum benefit from communications technologies. To do so you need capability (the NBN) and confidence (cyber-security). The Conroy haters would be far better off embracing the message and getting into the detail of the whole plethora of policy options to build confidence – done right you might just convince the Government that there is a better alternative to the “web page blocking” proposal.

    And I hate to remind you that it is the Attorney-General not the Comms Minister who wants ISPs to keep data they don’t already keep merely so that the spooks and walloppers can access it.

    • Yes, of course it’s all the fault of the public and industry that the Govt have so comprehensively failed to communicate with them… what pile of twaddle.

      • Last time I looked communication was a participation sport – receivers share responsibility equally with senders. However, that had nothing at all to do with the post. That does not even remotely resemble the comments I made. Lets get more specific.

        1. Comms and the Internet ARE together – comms and IT are not. The Internet does not equal IT.

        2. Are we seriously now saying that to be a Minister you need to have an industrial trade certificate? Very few health ministers have been doctors, very few treasurers have been trained as economists, I think no defence minister has been a soldier. … but the Comms Minister needs a Cisco certificate…..please….

        3. Credible execution – try three letters – NBN. It is going to take time and money but you aren’t going to get an all fibre future any other way.

        • Not all uses of the internet is for communication
          I’d say communication part is things like emails/phone calls/messaging. (maybe forums depending on how they are used)
          There is also publishing and ‘data communication’ between PCs
          Gaming isn’t a communication thing, yet its on the ‘internet’
          Image viewing isn’t ‘communication’ is more publication.

        • “receivers share responsibility equally with senders”
          It’s up to the sender to ensure the receiver has correctly received the message. If it appears that the receiver’s clearly not receiving, comprehending or understanding the receipt to the intent of the sender, it cannot be the receiver’s fault. Something’s either wrong with the sender, the message, or the method of communication.
          It’s akin to yelling at someone when you discover they’re deaf, or don’t speak the language. Pointless, and to onlookers who understand both the sender and receiver’s points of view, the sender looks like a moron (whether they are or not is immaterial to said observers).

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