The last month has seen heated exchanges over Queensland Government policy regarding the National Broadband Network and the use of ICT contractors in government. Unfortunately much of the public debate has deviated away from the central issues.
During Queensland Question Time on 19 August, a question was raised, regarding the possible cost of the National Broadband Network to Queensland taxpayers. In his response, IT Minister Schwarten indicated the Queensland Government strongly supported the Federal Government’s National Broadband initiative. He added, “we have a number of in-house public servants working on this”, but no external consultants have been used. There has not been one consultant. It was done in-house as a normal cost of running government.”
Unfortunately debate was cut short before Schwarten could elaborate, as the Opposition took umbrage with Schwarten’s strongly worded personal jibes aimed at Shadow IT Spokesperson Stuckey:
“... in Queensland, the shadow minister,... thinks that broadband is obviously a place somewhere between Broadwater and Broadbeach...She’s not cut out for a life in here, or a life full stop.”
For the next two weeks, debate and media comment centred on whether Minister Schwarten had made veiled personal threats against Opposition Spokesperson Stuckey. More than a dozen articles were written about his remarks. Meanwhile discussion about the National Broadband Network sunk again without a trace.
In Queensland as well, the use of ICT contractors, have raised similarly strong comments. On 30 July, ZDNet ran a story about Queensland Government plans to centralise the use of contractors through a single master vendor to drive down contracting costs.
“The details on the proposal currently being put to industry have not yet been made completely clear, but the government has aired the idea in a presentation this week that current supplier panel arrangements be replaced by a master vendor that would draw on a database of contractors,” ZDNet reported.
Blog traffic following the article was largely scathing of the government and of its understanding of the contracting market. A report last week now indicates the contracting industry will be responding to government with an alternate model.
At this stage, the Government has yet to respond.