The Frustrated State
How terrible tech policy is deterring digital Australia
About the book
Australia is currently facing an unprecedented wave of change driven almost entirely by highly disruptive technological innovation.
The incredible growth of the Internet has spawned a huge clutch of start-up companies which are challenging the basic operation of every business model. New technologies are flooding into Australia and revolutionising the way we live our everyday lives. Successfully managing this change has emerged as one of the biggest issues in our lifetimes.
And Australia’s political leaders and policymakers are getting it completely wrong.
The past decade of technology policy development and implementation by the political sector has been catastrophic for all concerned.
The broadband sector is in chaotic disarray, following a decade of poisonous political warfare on how best to upgrade Telstra’s ageing copper network. Australia’s video game development industry has virtually collapsed; our most successful IT startups are deserting our shores in droves; our Internet is now comprehensively controlled and monitored by law enforcement, and our emerging renewable energy sector has just been handed a death notice.
And let’s not even get into the billions being wasted on failed government IT projects.
The Frustrated State will be the first in-depth examination of how Australia’s political sector is systematically mismanaging technological change and crushing hopes that the nation will ever take its rightful place globally as a digital powerhouse and home of innovation.
It will also humbly offer a few basic suggestions to resolve the situation.
The Frustrated State will be written by one of the few voices to have been on the front lines of Australia’s technological revolution for the past ten years: Experienced technology journalist Renai LeMay, the founder of independent tech media outlet Delimiter and former Financial Review and ZDNet journalist.
Renai is currently close to completing a 12 month contract as an advisor to Greens Senator Scott Ludlam on telecommunications, defence and nuclear policy, based in Parliament House in Canberra.
If The Frustrated State is successfully funded, Renai will start working full-time on this book from mid-July 2015 and aim to publish it about nine months later, around the time of the 2016 Federal Budget.
Note that no work on this book will take part during the time of Renai’s employment with Senator Ludlam (which finishes at the end of June). And obviously, all of Renai’s experiences behind the scenes with Senator Ludlam will remain confidential — they won’t be part of the book.
This Kickstarter strictly only covers the resources need to developed the book itself. However, a related benefit to readers will be that if the book is funded, Renai will also take his separately funded web site Delimiter out of cold storage and seek to become a Press Gallery journalist, reporting from Parliament House, Canberra on an ongoing basis. His efforts with the book and with Delimiter will complement each other.
- How the critical National Broadband Network project has been torn apart by poisoned infighting between political parties, leaving Australia languishing in global broadband rankings
- How successive Governments’ failure to structurally separate Telstra has led to almost two decades of regulatory instability in Australia’s telecommunications industry
- How Australia’s Internet has become subject to comprehensive Government censorship, control and surveillance
- The almost complete disintegration of Australia’s video game development industry
- The failure of successive Australian Governments to address core issues in the tech startup sector, leading to our most successful companies leaving Australia for fairer shores
- How a complete lack of copyright reform has left Australia languishing behind the rest of the world in the new world of digital content
- How state governments are actively hamstringing disruptive new industries at the behest of powerful interest groups
- How the Government killed new investment in renewable energy infrastructure almost overnight
- How a series of catastrophic failures has left public sector IT systems locked in the stone age
To deliver The Frustrated State, Renai will conduct dozens of new on- and off-the record interviews with key players in the political, private and non-profit sectors, going behind the scenes in the corridors of power to tell stories which have never been completely told before.
The Frustrated State will weave all of these disparate threads together into a grand narrative spiked with Renai’s trademark insight and deep analysis. It will serve as a wake-up call to our political leaders and as a series of case studies documenting two decades of mismanagement of technology policy.
The book’s initial funding goal will be $25,000. However, if the book reaches its stretch goal of $35,000, physical copies will be sent directly to:
- Every Federal MP and Senator
- Every State and Federal Minister and Shadow Minister who deals directly with issues of technology policy
- Key senior executives at pertinent departments and agencies such as the Department of Communications, ACCC and ACMA
The main risks for this project consist of production delays. I have the contacts, the insight and the background knowledge to pull this project together. However, writing and research takes time, and in the worst case scenario this may delay the eventual publication date. I’m a bit of a workaholic, however, so I consider this unlikely.