Australian Government IT plans announced

Bluescreen is APC’s new twice-weekly satire column stirring the pot of the Australian tech industry!

The great thing about public servants isn’t the servant bit of the title — have you ever tried to get service out of them? Neither is it the public bit; despite the front-facing nature of their role it’s abundantly clear from too many Centrelink offices that a touch of deodorant (say 50 litres each) wouldn’t go astray.  Strategic shaving and perhaps a few weeks in rehab for selected staff members might be a good idea too come to think of it.

No the great thing about public servants is that they all largely figure themselves to be untouchable and certainly not able to be fired. As such they’re not terribly worried about things like having proper passwords (hint: “Snoopy” is not a proper password and neither is “Password”) or even in keeping government secrets terribly well especially if you ply them with liquids bottled in the Barossa Valley. Armed with a few litres of Tanunda’s finest I plied one of my contacts in Canberra the other day and the following Government IT plan* was my just reward.

Y’see Kevin’s Kommandos do care about IT but they’re a touch stymied as to how to revitalise the flagging IT industry beyond keeping the ABC alive long enough for the Good Game game to be released and hoping and praying it outsells Grand Theft Auto IV. Oh that and bending over for Telstra.

My source (let’s just call him Steve-o) told me their first thought was to become a major IT manufacturing powerhouse until it was pointed out that “All that stuff’s been sewn up by the Chinese who have far more expertise in using electroshock therapy as a strike negotiation tactic than us and besides which — we tried that with the automotive industry and look where it got us.”

The next plan revolved around becoming an IT services powerhouse but again according to my source “We got beaten to the punch. The Indians work around the clock for one tenth what we’d have to pay a unionised force and there’s no way that Kevin’ll back a non-unionised force. Well not yet anyway. Besides which he doesn’t speak Hindi.”

It was only with recent moves by big IT companies to try experimental approaches to their products with eBay forcing PayPal onto Australian consumers only followed closely by Adobe’s announcement that Australian users would be able to rent Creative Suite 3 on a monthly basis for a fee slightly less than they could sell their first-born child for that the new plan was formulated. “If we couldn’t be a slave workforce or the people that you swear at down the phone when your computer’s exploded then we may as well become the world’s biggest test lab for truly daft IT ideas” my source claimed. “Consumers are always crying out for the next big thing — we want Australia to give it to them.”

He then pulled out a government laptop (“I can lose this anywhere mate and the silly bastards just replace it the next day”) and showed me the rough PDF of the promotional campaign designed to kickstart the whole IT revitalisation plan. “We wanted to play off the whole “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign so we’ve signed up the bird in the bikini for it and we’re calling it “Where the bloody hell is IT?”

Response to the “Where the bloody hell is IT” campaign has been unexpectedly popular with consumers. For example Apple fanboys are said to be ecstatic about the idea that Apple might be forced to say something about the 3G iPhone. Fans of Vista are said to be drooling over the Australian-only release of Windows Vista (ME Edition). Linux users are keen for Canonical to finally release a commerical version of Linux — on the grounds that buying it at Vista prices would in fact be cheaper than downloading it through BigPond. Telstra’s Phil Burgess is said to be delighted with the campaign because “maybe it’ll finally get Conroy or Bonroy or Fonroy or whatever his name is to finally hand over the $4 billion for Sol’s beachhouse.”

We tried to find somebody from the local software industry to interview but they were both on secondment to Silicon Valley having sold their soul to Steve Ballmer.

*Yes I know. Government. Plan. IT. Seems oxymoronic doesn’t it?