Labor adviser hits up Hacker News for startup tips



blog You may remember that Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen gave a landmark speech last week arguing that much of the future for Australia’s economy lies in high-tech jobs, innovation and entrepreneurship, in sentiments which ran directly contrary to the thrust of the Coalition Government’s first budget. It was assumed at the time that much of the input for the speech came from tech-savvy MP Ed Husic, and that’s still assumed to be the case. However, it also appears that input is coming from another direction — the office of Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Delimiter’s spies have pointed us to a post made by Leigh’s advisor Thomas McMahon on startup/developer gathering ground Hacker News last week. McMahon writes:

“Hi all – I work for Andrew Leigh MP, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer who is responsible for Labor’s tax policy leading up to the next election. I’d be interested in hearing your views on what a future Labor govt could do to support startups in Australia. If you’d prefer to email them,”

Much of the feedback revolved around the need for better broadband infrastructure in Australia, but participants in the thread also pointed McMahon towards other issues such as the need to change tax regulations around Employee Share Scheme. “Both Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen have flagged re-examining our position on employee share schemes. I’ll add your voice to many that I’ve received on this issue,” McMahon told one participant.

With the Coalition virtually abandoning support for Australia’s technology sector in the recent Budget, it’s looking more and more as though it’s going to be Labor which will be carrying the torch for the IT industry over the next few years. Labor politicians such as Ed Husic, Kate Lundy, Stephen Conroy, Michelle Rowland, Jason Clare and now Chris Bowen clearly “get it” when it comes to technology. And of course, there’s also the recently re-elected Scott Ludlam from the Greens, who is likely the most tech-savvy of the lot.

In the meantime, we recommend that if you want to give Labor your opinion on how it should be supporting the tech sector, we suggest you do as McMahon suggested, and email him directly. The more the better! And make sure, if you do, that you remind him to read Delimiter as well :D


  1. There used to be a time when Turnbull, or at least one of his staffers, would comment here.

    No longer. Even on every single one of his Facebook posts, the negative feedback is overwhelming. There’s no potential left in productive conversations with our Communications Minister. Not outside the context of a managed media appearance where the NBN as a topic is shut down at once if it makes an appearance at all.

    The man has frankly become a punchline, far more so than Conroy, Coonan and Alston ever were. Seriously, in the IT and even related industry these days the coalition’s broadband policy and Turnbull are considered a joke. And even if they succeed in building their “NBN” and even if it works well enough for the while it is viable, it is too late already.

    With every single Internet bill they will get, every single second they wait for an upload to finish and every time the word broadband or Australia’s competitiveness is mentioned, people will think back to the relentless campaigning by the coalition. So much of it is going to be completely undeserved. But that won’t matter. As a marketing job, the coalition has failed utterly, and this policy rode in on the coattails of others. FTTN has enetered the popular venacular and it has done so as something inferior. It doesn’t even matter how much inferior. Every time Aunt Lydia waits for the upload to finish while her niece overseas literally doesn’t get what the problem is because she’s on symmetric fibre and it’s 2020. Every time that 4k video in 2018 buffers for even a second, subconsciously every Australian will curse the punchline that is Turnbull.

    Was that pause caused by a lag in synchronising the video output? Sure. Was that upload slowness caused by some JavaScript hanging in the browser because some request has gone funky on the server side? Yep. That video game that’s on Steam, certainly not streamed, being slow because a graphics card is a bit sub-par. Betcha that at least sub-consciously Turnbull and the coalition will still get the blame for all these things. Logical? Not really. But, again, that doesn’t matter because of the marketing job they did. Seriously, I cannot think of how they could have marketed any better if the intent was to become a scapegoat for every tiniest Internet coonectivity related problem for the next 20 years. Excellent job, if that was the objective.


    Meanwhile, we have a Labor staffer, outside shadow communications, mind you, ask question about policy on Hacker News. I cannot possibly think of a more productive, more appropriate, more knowledgable and more equitable place for doing this than on Hacker News given the topic at hand. Maybe Whirlpool, maybe reddit, maybe Delimiter could come close. In any case, some serious kudos. A million times over.

    Conroy sits in Senate Estimates and we hear the names of Whirlpool users – Conroy acting at times like a gateway… it’s pretty damn interesting. Meanwhile if Turnbull were to post on Whirlpool even once, the sheer vitriol (and I’ll say at least somewhat deserved) in the responses could power Wollongong for a month. Yeah, Turnbull, we know Telstra ain’t getting that SSU any time soon. On that note, a big giant, and I quote fom one of your staffers, ‘get fucked’.

    Also, I’m no spy, I just spend my whole day on Hacker News :/

    • Great comment.

      It’s starting to seem like a lot of Labor politicians “get” technology and people in a way that perhaps only Scott Ludlam does and that no Coalition politician does.

      I listen to Labor politicians speak today and I hear echoes of ordinary people’s comments on news forums and social media: Labor actually seems to be crowdsourcing its political messages from supporters not so much of its party but of its policies. When you hear Coalition supporters on the other hand, you’ll find it’s almost entirely the other way around: they parrot the party line without any sort of creativity and often without thought.

      After the cock-up that was the 2010-2013 Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era, I thought it would take a long time for Labor to begin to earn back my respect, but they’re slowly clawing it back.

      However, it is good to remain cautious, since someone will inevitably fuck things up. So while I may begin to feel I can entrust them with the future, I still won’t trust them in the future, because, in the end, they’re still politicians…

      • It’s interesting really, it seems to be the younger Labor folks that ‘get it’, the previous lot (Rudd/Gillard) knew it was a ‘good thing’, but weren’t sure why (they never really seemed to be able to communicate why at least).

        I think Bill fits into the Rudd/Gillard camp in that regard, so it’s good to see them loosen the reins on the younger ones.

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