[clug] Linux on new school computers

Paul Wayper paul.wayper at anu.edu.au
Wed Nov 28 00:33:22 GMT 2007

Jason wrote:
> Wouldn't it have been fun to get to ask a question of Mr Rudd or on of the others leading up the the election in a crowded press conference. Something like "What do you intend to do about breaking the hold foreign held proprietary software monopolies have over the governments software at all levels including in our schools and how do you think such monopolies contribute to the stifling of small businesses and innovation in general?"
> Probably just get a blank stare or a no comment but would still be fun.

I think you underestimate the intelligence of our politicians.  Even
John Howard would say something like "we're deeply committed to
extending and improving our nation's contribution go the global IT
industry and we see a great future in working with all sectors of the
market to achieve this", and his party is the only one of the major four
running a web server on Microsoft Windows.  Rudd would talk about his
promotion of open source, his request that government departments use
open formats, and his desire to make Australia the smart nation by
putting a laptop on every school desk.  None of this actually answers
your question, or attempts to solve the problem you highlight, but it's
a good soundbite and it allows them to move on.  And you probably won't
get a chance to ask a question that long unless you're in the Chaser team.

Realistically, trying to flat-foot politicians in public with Dorothy
Dixers went out with the eighties.  On the one hand, today they're well
trained against that, mainly because there's usually some opposition
party plant in every press conference.  On the other hand, it's just not
actually useful any more - it makes your question look specious and
allows the politician to give you the brush-off.  You're far better
approaching them with a message, a plan and a request for their
assistance.  That way they can see you're organised, you care about it
and you've presented them with a complete idea.  The object is to not
appear like a babbling fanatic with no contact with reality.

I appreciate the humour of your situation.  I wish it was be as easy as
that to get the kind of policy change that the FOSS community needs.

Have fun,


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