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Open Source Bill For Australian Capital Territory

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the seat-of-power dept.

Linux Business 186

leinad writes "An article in The Age newspaper claims the Australian Capital Territory is set to become the first jurisdiction in the country to adopt a bill which says that public bodies should, as far as practicable, consider the use of open source software when procuring computer software. (The Australian Capital Territory is the small territory/state of Australia in which Canberra, the capital of Australia, is located.)" Seems like requiring blueprints from contractors, to me.

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186 comments

Linux ... Australian for ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687180)

Bah, never mind. It was a stupid joke anyway.

Who named that new book about cashius clay GOAT?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687311)

Ya, ya, I know Greatest Of All Time...

But still GOAT? Come on that's a shitty ass acronym and shit...

I am first (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687182)

This is my first post. There are many like it. But this one is mine.

wel... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687183)

the democrates are a bit of a joke in australia atm im supprised it passed

Re:wel... (0, Troll)

yobbo (324595) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687388)

Is the @#$%ing idiot moderator who modded this -1 even aware of Australian politics? The post is factually correct - the Democrats are in the shitter at the moment, and in recent times they have been occupants of the senate who traditionally do get in the way of the legislative program of the government. However, i'm not aware of the exact make up of ACT parliament right now - the democrats may not have such a large hold there, but that's a point of discussion - not for some dead shit moderator to slap a -1 on. Moron.

Re:wel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687514)

Who cares? It's offtopic and you can't expect non-Australians (and even many Aussies :) to know about the Democrats!

Re:wel... (1)

denks (717389) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687437)

The post is factually correct. The Australian Democrats are currently on a self-created pathway to oblivion.
Honestly though I dont know how many Democrat members there are in the ACT parliament. Maybe enough to make some useful noise?
Of far more interest is which of the major parties support this bill? And has it passed?

Re:wel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687542)

RTFA. At the moment, the bill hasn't passed. It's due to be voted on this evening.

Also, just because Senator Bartlett is wobbling his way out of federal politics shouldn't lessen the importance/contribution of the bill proposed by the Dems, unless you like to play the "cult of personality" game. Hopefully, those voting on the bill tonight (in what is essentially a local government assembly) will consider its merits, not the politics of the person who proposed it.

Bigger that it seems... (-1, Offtopic)

nmoog (701216) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687185)

What you really need to consider when analysing the details of this legislation is how the overall... ah, the overall... Oh who am I kidding? FIRST POST!!!!

about time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687187)

Well, glad to see some gov't has some ideas about open source development. Too bad the U.S. didn't come up with it. *sigh*

Slashdot reveals its true colors (-1, Offtopic)

110010001000 (697113) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687513)

Check out the latest press release from VALinux (slashdots parent corporation) HERE [nasdaq.com] VALinux doesn't care about us, the professional programmer. They are producing tools that are geared to take more of our jobs overseas. It is tools like this and open source which are DESTROYING the profession. What does Slashdot have to say for itself?

G'nu Bruce! (-1, Troll)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687194)

Immanuel Kant was a real piss-ant who was very rarely stable. Heideggar, Heideggar was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table. David Hume could out-consume Schopenhauer and Hegel. And Whittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as sloshed as Schlegel. There's nothing Nieizsche couldn't teach 'ya 'bout the raising of the wrist. Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed. John Stewart Mill, of his own free will, after half a pint of shanty was particularly ill. Plato, they say, could stick it away, 'alf a crate of whiskey every day! Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle, And Hobbes was fond of his Dram. And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart: "I drink, therefore I am." Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed; A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he's pissed.

Sorry, I'll stop now.

Re:G'nu Bruce! (0, Offtopic)

Lane.exe (672783) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687452)

Du bist getrunk. Bitte, gehen sie aus mit deinem Philosophie.

Da sind in deutsche Philosophie zu viel Bier -- FWN.

Software matters, OS does not (4, Interesting)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687197)

Requiring the blueprints for a building is important insofar as it is necessary to remodel the building in the future.

However, most operating systems do not require alteration at any level below the distributor. Users are actively discouraged from changing their systems. Changing the system means possibly breaking compatibility with other systems which leads to headaches down the road as the forks diverge.

OTOH, software is always in a state of flux. Government software is always being updated, and as long as the underlying OS doesn't change serious portings of the software do not need to take place. In the case of end-user software, it is important that the government have the software source code in hand so as to be able to contract out to companies as necessary to update it.

But OS software is different, in that it is less likely that a change needs to be made for the purposes of government work. COTS is the name of the game, and as long as the systems are standardized to some degree things are hunky dory. There is no need for source code in the case of an OS.

Re:Software matters, OS does not (1)

child_of_mercy (168861) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687394)

I'd say your third para contradicts your second,

but maybe I'm too dumb to understand you.

Re:Software matters, OS does not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687404)

OS is a separate category than software, as I understand the post.

Re:Software matters, OS does not (5, Insightful)

bit01 (644603) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687439)

You're a troll and probably an M$ astroturfer but I'll bite so those new here won't be fooled:

The source of the OS matters just as much as for application, but for reasons you haven't mentioned. These include:

Documentation - it is impossible for API documentation to be complete. Source is frequently needed to make clear what will happen under rare circumstances eg. virtual memory traps during a strcpy() in a device driver.

Back doors - without source it is impossible for the government to make sure that public data is not being used for private purposes. "Trust me" is not good enough for any non-trivial project. eg. voting

Unusual circumstances - Governments are large organisations with many specialised operations. To say one size fits all is simply wrong. Source is not a panacea but can help solve problems that closed source vendors won't even look at. eg. support for military spec hardware.

Forking - Closed source software forks every bit as much as open source source software and in addition will always eventually no longer be supported. With open source software an customer can make their own choices about when to drop support and not be beholden to a vendor trying to maximise profit.

---

I sometimes think that closed source vendors are engaged in 1984 style double-think when it comes to closed source API's. By definition an open source API, assuming all else is equal, will allow a customer at least all the options of a closed source API.

---

Astroturfers are scum

and... termination (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687539)

Forking - Closed source software forks every bit as much as open source source software and in addition will always eventually no longer be supported. With open source software an customer can make their own choices about when to drop support and not be beholden to a vendor trying to maximise profit.

Just to add to that thought, the parent company goes under... or the staff all get hit by a car while their bus is off the the company picnic, or whatever. If the source is open, you can at least try to continue it yourself, or hire somebody with programming knowledge to continue development/fixes.

Re:Software matters, OS does not (3, Insightful)

Frater 219 (1455) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687442)

However, most operating systems do not require alteration at any level below the distributor. Users are actively discouraged from changing their systems. Changing the system means possibly breaking compatibility with other systems which leads to headaches down the road as the forks diverge.

That's silly. It's like saying that having the freedom to remodel your building means that you're going to undermine its foundations and break its compliance with the building code. Of course you don't do that.

When you have a large site with higher potential migration costs, you would be fiscally irresponsible to hand your system over to a single-source vendor. You wouldn't sign a building contract which specified that only the original builder could fix the roof if it leaked, would you? He could charge any price he wanted -- your only options would be to pay it, or to live in a leaky building, or to demolish or abandon the building and build another. That is what lock-in and migration costs mean in proprietary software.

It's true that you, or your staff, may never need to make changes to your software yourself. However, you still benefit from the fact that others can, and that you are not locked-in to someone else's way of doing business.

Re:Software matters, OS does not (2, Informative)

AnotherFreakboy (730662) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687476)

It's important to remember that there is a lot of Open Source software out there that is not an Operating System.

I hear there is even Open Source software that is Operating System independant...

ok... (-1, Offtopic)

webtre (717698) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687210)

nothing to see here, let's all go back to whining about sco's little publicity stunt today

what's most interesting (5, Insightful)

LardBrattish (703549) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687222)

isn't the bit about "considering open source wherever practical" which is easy to weasel around. I like this bit:-

The bill, which goes before the ACT Legislative Assembly tonight, also specifies that public bodies should not use software that does not comply with open standards or standards recognised by the ISO or software for which support or maintenance is provided only by an entity that has the right to exercise exclusive control over its sale or distribution.

That'll be the bit that gives most trouble to the beast of Redmond...

Define support (3, Insightful)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687228)

Define maintenance.

I'm sure you'll find that Redmond will have no trouble satisfying this clause.

Re:Define support (2, Insightful)

LardBrattish (703549) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687277)

I see your point but how many companies can provide a fix for an exploit in SQL Server? How about MySQL or Postgresql...

The open source movement needs to market itself better to the enterprise. That's why I support that proposal by the Debian guy to get certification & target vertical markets with tailored distros. If someone did that for the British NHS & sold them 1.6m seats @ (say) UKP20 + annual support @ UKP20/seat/year there'd be a reasonable amount of cash (64 Million Pounds) going into the system to enhance the distro

Re:what's most interesting (2, Informative)

aheath (628369) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687268)

I don't see anything in the coverage of the bill that suggests that closed source software can not be procured and used if support or maintenance can be sourced from more than one vendor. In other words, closed source software is fine provided that a third party can provide support for this product.

Re:what's most interesting (5, Interesting)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687395)

Good Point.

I think in order to be fair, they simply couldn't completely shut the door on proprietary solutions. People here are looking at the overall system and what it can do... and if Microsoft is still required to run a particular system because only it can... then MS will stay put.

OTOH, if the government want to create jobs and boost the local IT industry.... those MS licences will slowly die out when an OSS alternative replacement comes along.

For most people, a Linux system does the job. OpenOffice is great (still has a few quirks here and there, but is generally "good enough" considering you don't pay a cent for it). All the other tools just add value to an already free offering.

And let's not forget FreeBSD in the server room.

Having said all that, forcing OSS solutions and avoiding vendor lock-in is going to be tricky when you basically need a vendor to offer you support somewhere. This basically means that if the Enterprise is running Linux on the desktop, according to the Aussie government's proposition, the whole install MUST have no proprietary pieces in there which would inhibit a change in service/support vendors. ....That's the most interesting thing that I see coming up.
Now, who other than Microsoft can support their own OS at a source code level? Microsoft may have to take the initiative on this one....

Re:what's most interesting (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687374)

I provide third party support for WinXXXX all the time. Charge reasonable rates for doing so. Provides my beer, tobacco, gas and dvd rental money for the month on a regular basis, all outside of my regular job. Thank $$$ for WinME, support for which accounts for about $150 a month income on the side for me, just being the fine system it is. Don't know what I'll do when I actually convince my clients to switch to something better. ;-)

Requiring Open Source is not a solution (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687233)

Requiring open source is like requiring openly designed cars, electronic devices, etc... for the government business. It doesn't make sense and it is not the right way to promote open source. It is totally discriminatory and unfair. I would reject such an idea and will consider it an abuse of the government power against the free will of people.

Promoting open standards is another matter though, cause that really gives people the power to use whatever they want, be it open source or Microsoft software, it doesn't matter.

Re:Requiring Open Source is not a solution (4, Insightful)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687250)

It's not about requiring, it's about considering....

Also the most significant part of the bill is not really about open source...it's about requiring the use of open standards, and avoiding single vendor lock in....

Re:Requiring Open Source is not a solution (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687293)

I don't think it is the business of government to tell you that you should consider the use of open source software. I can make the best decision, why the hell should the government tell me which software should I consider? When the government says you should consider, it quickly becomes "requiring" btw. I don't think the government should in anyway promote this or that software over the other. Not that I don't like open source, but once you limit your options without even considering your other options, you will likely to lose.

You haven't understood (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687336)

It's not about the government telling anyone else what to do. It's about what the government must do itself.

Re:You haven't understood (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687351)

What's the government, a third party person? The government is me. Government is using my money, my resources. I am one of the guys who maintain the government, not the government itself. It has to ask me first to take that sort of decision. If everybody says, let's use open source, I have no problem. Otherwise, who the hell knows why those government officals did this thing. Maybe they know someone who works in one of the companies which provide open source software. You never know? Would it be better if the government said, you should consider using Microsoft software? This is not about open source, this is about your own freedom to choose. Nothing should take it away from you, not even open source zealots. You don't use open source because you have to, but becase you chose to. And nobody can make decision for you, neither government nor open source zealots.

Re:You haven't understood (2, Informative)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687490)

What's the government, a third party person? The government is me. Government is using my money, my resources. I am one of the guys who maintain the government, not the government itself.

NO the government is not you, it's us. The government is not using your money, it's using the funds from (what in the ACT is called) 'consolidated revenue.' Once you have paid your taxes that money is not yours in any personal sense, any more than the money you spent on that can of coke is yours, notwithstanding the fact that you may be a shareholder of the CocaCola Co. Once again it is ours.

And because it is ours, and we can (and in the ACT must) vote, the government better spend it in a cost effective manner (no multi-million dollar salary packages in the public service I'm afraid). If using OSS, or products for which the service market is competitive, saves the government money then it is quite the correct thing for the government to do.

Beyond the niggardly concerns of how consolidated revenue is to spent, however, there is a greater issue of principle here. 'Access' and 'Transparency' are supposed to be touchstones of democratic government. Clearly it behoves a government to embrace standards which are non-proprietary and open insofar as it is practicable.

This is not about open source, this is about your own freedom to choose. ... And nobody can make decision for you, neither government nor open source zealots.

Once again, nobody is making the decision for you. You can use whatever you like. This is about what it is appropriate for a democractic government to use. You need to learn to disguise your teenage libertarian paranoia a little better.

Re:Requiring Open Source is not a solution (5, Insightful)

ignavus (213578) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687391)

I don't think it is the business of government to tell you that you should consider the use of open source software.

It *is* the business of governments to regulate how government sector organisations purchase software. They aren't trying to tell *you* what to buy ... unless you are a government sector employee. In which case they are your employer, and *can* tell you what to buy.

I see this as affirmative action against all those government agencies that automatically think that expensive, multi-national-owned software is intrinsically better than open source, or locally produced stuff from small vendors.

There are plenty of government managers who get their kudos from spending lots of tax-payers' dollars on big-budget projects, when something much more modest would do the job ... at a far lower cost. But then the manager wouldn't be able to say, "I have a bigger budget than you!" This legislation helps, a little, to counteract some of this waste.

Re:Requiring Open Source is not a solution (1)

Norman at Davis (707321) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687316)

Exactly, because there has to be a first step, first they consider the open source, and once users discover the joys and advantages (stability, price, etc.) of Open Source perhaps new legislation will be passed... one can only hope!

Re:Requiring Open Source is not a solution (1)

slittle (4150) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687373)

it's about requiring the use of open standards, and avoiding single vendor lock in....
There's also the problem of entrenched "we're a Microsoft/IBM/Apple/whatever shop" cultures where emplyees and PHBs just won't want to deal with anything outside their comfort zones, and so resist any effort to change. Problem is, this costs bucks/trouble, so now they need an excuse.

Someone has to say it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687247)

Flame me if you want but this open source stuff is killing jobs like there is no tomorrow. I've never seen another profession actively commit suicide like this one. Programming used to be a decent profession - but now it pay far less than any trade. Shit - 40K/year job down from 100K/yr - I can't live on that. At what point will this end?

Re:Someone has to say it (1)

pentalive (449155) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687275)

I don't think it's open source. I think it's outsource. Sending all coding to India or China where the programmers are happy with peanut wages.

Re:Someone has to say it (2, Insightful)

LardBrattish (703549) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687299)

As a programmer this is a huge concern for me obviously. But in this case it's Australian government so they are interested in keeping as much of the money in Australia as possible.

There was a great article in Australian Developer a few months ago explaining the economics of open source for (non US) governments and the way that supporting FOSS keeps more money in your country and improves your balance of trade.

This is not the case in America for obvious reasons :)

Re:Someone has to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687317)

I'm not so sure it's just outsourcing. Open source creates a feeling that our work is worthless. Case in point: Linux, KDE, Samba, Apache - all excellent software that can replace software costing thousands of dollars per computer. Now the bean counters think that all software ought to be free - so they pay people less. It's a vicious cycle. Software is free, hardware is dirt cheap - so the computer operaters (a.k.a. programmers) should be paid next to nothing too. Don't dismiss this attitude as being rare - I openly hear management and clients talk in these terms. Programmers are a "dime a dozen", etc. Microsoft may be a monopoly and Sun Micro may be a bunch of non-market savvy morons, but the truth is they employ people and pay them well. How much longer will this be the case? Something's got to give - and unfortunately, I think it's us. Perhaps it's time to learn more about auto repair. All I can say that in this cut-throught environment if you see some of your peers slacking off - get them fired ASAP - it's your job or theirs. These slackers and unacheivers and sometimes outright frauds in our ranks have undermined our credibility in the corporate world. We collectively deserved what we got in the dot com crash in a lot of ways. The future does not look bright for the professional programmer.

Re:Someone has to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687384)

Kind of like what Microsoft is doing?

Re:Someone has to say it (2, Insightful)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687298)

So go work for Red Hat. Open source is producing jobs at Red Hat. Technological improvements always destroy some jobs, but others appear to take their place.

Re:Someone has to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687369)

So Red Hat will hire the 20,000 unemployed programmers in my city alone? Not bloody likely.

Re:Someone has to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687305)

Wages are only following stock prices. Blame the 'entrepreneurs'.

Also, some people who used to be called 'programmers' in the .com era got found out, so 'programming' wages dropped for some.

Re:Someone has to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687337)

Your wages will drop proportionally as well. Why do you think you are insulated from this global phenominon? Making $150K/yr in the valley slinging Java - that's 100K too much.

Re:Someone has to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687371)

Oh cry me a river. An extremely large proportion of Australia survives on less than 40K/year.

http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/rn/2003-04/04 rn 09.pdf

Wankers like you thinking the world owes them a big BMW or whatever are what makes it hard for some people in the world to get enough to eat day to day.

Re:Someone has to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687386)

You cannot raise 3 kids on a single 40K/year salary, mate. And what's this talk about a BMW? I drive a Toyota.

Re:Someone has to say it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687422)

At least you have a job. There are tons of North Americans who don't. 40 000 a year is far, far better than nothing. The market is adjusting. Deal with it. That's why people save money when there ARE making more money.

food on the table (5, Interesting)

mcclure (617150) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687261)

I'm working for a company whom I've convinced to give the whole "open source thing" a looksee.

This legislation means a lot to us - even though it doesn't cover the whole of the government, (as near as i can tell) it only applies to the ACT government.

We will now get a lot more interest in our services - and once we're in one government department, federal departments can't be that far away!

Exciting times.

Re:food on the table (1)

liv33vil (731701) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687286)

"once we're in one government department, federal departments can't be that far away!"

It will be a long time before many government departments dealing with "sensative" information even consider open source. But yes, it is a foot in the door.

Re:food on the table (1)

Desert Raven (52125) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687409)

It will be a long time before many government departments dealing with "sensative" information even consider open source.


You mean like, oh ... say, the NSA [nsa.gov]?

Or don't you think the National Security Agency handles senitive information?

Re:food on the table (2, Informative)

child_of_mercy (168861) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687433)

Actually the Australian Defence Signals Directorate's (DSD - roughly analogous to the NSA) advisory site for government departments only links to Linux in it's OS downloads section.

See here [onsecure.gov.au]

Re:food on the table (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687538)

Actually the Australian Defence Signals Directorate's (DSD - roughly analogous to the NSA) advisory site for government departments only links to Linux in it's OS downloads section.

Umm, as much as I like linux, they aren't going to provide downloadable windows xp :)

Territory vs State (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687276)

The Australian Capital Territory is the small territory/state of Australia in which Canberra, the capital of Australia, is located.

It is a territory. It is not a state. There is a difference.

In case that doesn't make sense... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687279)

The Australian Capital Territory is the small territory/state of Australia in which Canberra, the capital of Australia, is located.

Just like the Washington/Washington D.C. concept.

Re:In case that doesn't make sense... (1, Informative)

Norman at Davis (707321) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687413)

Yah, it's a beautiful town smack inbetween the two largest cities in Australia (Sydney and Melbourne). It's a beautiful town, it was actually designed by an American [yahoo.com], Walter Burley Griffin.

Re:In case that doesn't make sense... (1)

wrmrxxx (696969) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687464)

Just like the Washington/Washington D.C. concept.

Not only are they very similar in purpose, our respective leaders seem to have a similar attitude towards them. The Prime Minister is given a place to live in Canberra (at some expense to the taxpayer) but prefers to live in Sydney, just like the President seems to prefer to spend a lot of time in Texas.

Re:In case that doesn't make sense... (2, Insightful)

Cosmik (730707) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687505)

One can only wish that they became more similar, and our Prime Minister moved to Texas as well.

CLUG (4, Interesting)

femto (459605) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687284)

I wonder what influence CLUG [clug.org.au] had on this outcome?

CLUG projects include samba and rsync, so they could be called a 'shining light' for the ACT.

Re:CLUG (2, Informative)

Snoopy77 (229731) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687325)

And don't forget the ACT is the home of Tux! There is even a sign about Linux at the penguin exhibit at the zoo.

Re:CLUG (1)

child_of_mercy (168861) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687458)

that was the penguin that bit Linus and gave him penguinitits.

Submitted a story to /. a few weeks ago on that but it was rejected.

Re:CLUG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687498)

Where did this happen? Liuns only visted 3 Zoos that had the little birds and as far as I know, only one of them would allow a person to get close enough to touch the birds. At one time Linus made a statement about what town it happened in but there were issues with that and someone else (Tredge?) claimed it was in a different place. So does anyone have the true facts in this case? Can we ID the penguin that started the tux movments?

Re:CLUG (1)

child_of_mercy (168861) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687447)

Not that I can speak for CLUG (or that anyone really can, it's an amorphous group) but there was a lot of feedback between members of the Legislative Assembly and the CLUG, particularly discussion as to the philosophy and a lot of hand holding that Open Source/Free Software wasn't orientated to any particular political ideology.

Not the last of the legislation either (5, Informative)

Norman at Davis (707321) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687295)

According to The Australian [news.com.au], this is "part of a coordinated national approach by the Democrats, which has seen similar legislation introduced in South Australia and federally and under consideration in [New South Wales] (whose capitol is Sydney) - calls for government to "consider" the purchase of open source software in procurement plans." The article also mentions that "the original version of the bill would have required the ACT to 'prefer open source software' but that was of course neutered. Appearently in the last six months alone the ACT has spent $15 million Australian ($11 mil US) (Converter [xe.com]) on Microsoft software and support for the next three years.

Re:Not the last of the legislation either (1)

denks (717389) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687474)

I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but the fact the Democrats introduce anything in parliament in Australia is no indication it will pass. In New South Wales at least the Democrats have no lower house seats that I am aware of, so unless one of the major parties also supports the bill, it isnt going anywhere. Similar situation in the other states and territories.

The legislation and more info (4, Informative)

xixax (44677) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687541)

The Bill in question is available on the ACT government's web site [act.gov.au] and (as passed) on the member's website [roslyndundas.com]. Don't get too excited, it uses the weasel-word "practicable" and the conservatives had it ammended to have a 3 year life. OTOH, it could be a great mandate.

The ACT is a administrative territory for the national capital, and we also had an OSS electronic voting system at our last election that is based on Linux [wired.com]

Xix.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687303)

...contractors blueprint YOU!

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687339)

... soviet russia jokes have gone out of style just like on /.

Yay (1)

Quelain (256623) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687307)

Good news, hopefully we'll see some good work done there which inspires others to follow.

Other Aussie states might be slow in actually requiring consideration of OSS, but the ACT's work could build a collection of useful software and government IT people will gain experience with OSS alternatives. That can only help with adoption elsewhere.

we already do this (5, Interesting)

urban_gorilla (691918) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687310)

actually working for a government department that pretty much exculsively uses open source for our development projects i can say... it works... and pretty well too.
we are a small department, and without a large budget have managed to complete projects in a similar, if not smaller amount of time and that would have otherwise cost millions.
yes. millions
go figure.

I have to pee (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687324)

I have to pee, so lay down on the floor, face up, so I can squat down and pee on your face.

LIMITS OF LEGISLATION (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687333)

Due to the National Competition Policy, it is unlawful to compell government agencies to use one type of software in preference to another.

A similar open source friendly bill has been passed in the State of South Australia. The S.A Act only makes it mandatory to "consider" using open source software in preference to proprietary software. Both pieces of legislation can only make it mandatory to "consider" the deployment of open sources software. The Australian Democrats introduced the Sth Aust bill in to Parliament. As the Australian Democrats are facing electoral oblivion in the Commonwealth elections within the next year, it is probable that there will not be any similar initatives in the future. The opposition Labor Party shadow Minister (for American readers essentially the alternative IT Minister who MAY be the responsible Minister next year) has intimated that similar legislation may be introduced for the Commonwealth at some stage in the future.

Not only considered -- it has been passed into law (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687334)

See the article in Computerworld: "ACT (Australian Capital Territory) passes open source law" http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php?id=79293 4018&fp=16&fpid=0

Heart of the Nation (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687346)

For those that don't know he ACT or Australian Capital Territory is nestled in the southern part of NSW, it is a comfortable drive of about 2 and a half hours to 3 hours from sydney (depending on whether you want to keep you licence or not).

While it is mostly overlooked as far as the rest of the world is concerned. It is the heart of the nation, and any adoption of Open Source Standands that comes from this bill, is an important step forward in many areas, not the least of which is security.

I'm looking forward to hearing the outcomes from this bill.

Hacked up already (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687377)

The bill was pushed through last night (about 12 hours ago) the full hansard is not yet available but I will link to it when it comes up.

Something that is just as interesting as the full hansard is the minutes and the changes that were made to the bill that has now been passed.

The line

'as far as practicable prefer open source software'

was changed to

'as far as practicable consider open source software'

Full minutes:
Are here [act.gov.au]

Page 8 has the bill
Page 10 has the ammendments

Australians are a bunch of animal abusing scum! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687392)

I saw "Finding Nemo" last night (props to Pixar!) and I have to say, it doesn't cast Austrians in a positive light! Their harbour is polluted and Australians kill pet fish for fun.

As a Japanese (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687423)

I find the polluting of harbors and killing of fish to be honorable practices.

Re:Australians are a bunch of animal abusing scum! (1)

Nermal6693 (622898) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687501)

Interesting... a movie set in Australia casts Austrians negatively?

Re:Australians are a bunch of animal abusing scum! (1)

HillBilly (120575) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687537)

In fact Sydney harbour is cleaner than it has for a long time... infact sharks are returning to the Harbour and the Parramatta river. Oh its only fish, yum.

good (3, Interesting)

POds (241854) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687421)

Cool, maybe the Australian taxation office will be able to read those applications forms i've been sending in openoffice format now? Wooh, i might get a job soon.

Why was such a law needed? (4, Interesting)

Cosmik (730707) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687430)

I'm an ACT resident, and discussion about this bill came up at work today. In regards to that, I've got to wonder why the hell a bill was needed for this - why is a policy, strictly enforced, not enough?

Are our politicians so inept that they have to hold onto the contraints of the law in order to purchase some new software? Wait...I think I just answered my own question.

what about pay back? (3, Interesting)

kautilya (727754) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687457)

I hope these governments will pay back too. If they are benefitting from open source, they should somehow invest to promote open source software.

Re:what about pay back? (1)

child_of_mercy (168861) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687547)

well i imagine their programmers (and they have many) will be sending in patches for itches they need scratched before very long.

And employing the many linux contributors who live in Canberra.

The ACT! I'm sure and Australian will.... (3, Interesting)

Osrin (599427) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687465)

... shed some light on this.

The ACT governments is not one of the 7 state governments, nor does it represent the Australian federal government.

My understanding is that the ACT Government represents the ACT (strange that)... an underfunded town that is smaller and less influential than Munich.

It's nice to see the activity, but don't get over excited, this isn't going to rock anybodies world.

Re:The ACT! I'm sure and Australian will.... (4, Informative)

child_of_mercy (168861) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687481)

1) there are six state government
2) While a small province Tasmania is not that much larger (in population)
3) It's a fully fledged parliament, not a local council, so it's an Act that has been made, not a council ordinance or Regulation.
4) The Federal Government is administered in Canberra. The same contractors who supply services that meet the requirements of this Act will be biddding for federal work.
5) this is the beginniug not the end.

Re:The ACT! I'm sure and Australian will.... (1)

Osrin (599427) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687493)

it's certainly a beginning... it's always a beginning, I just never see the big boys commit.

Munich is also a fully fledged parliament, many larger cities are.

I was under the impression that Tasmania was a state, you learn something every day.

Re:The ACT! I'm sure and Australian will.... (1)

Cosmik (730707) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687516)

Tasmania is a state. I think he was using 'province' to make it sound smaller :p Either that, or he's one of those that believe Tasmanian's have two heads, so keeps a geographical and verbal distance.

(Note: I'm still unsure on that two heads notion myself)

Re:The ACT! I'm sure and Australian will.... (1)

child_of_mercy (168861) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687534)

Tasmania is a State, but one with a tiny population

(IIRC ~500,000 v. the ACT's 300,000).

It was a unanimous vote of the Assembly as well which is helpful.

Re:The ACT! I'm sure and Australian will.... (1, Informative)

Cosmik (730707) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687487)

You're mostly correct, yes. The Chief Minister of the ACT, for you Americans, would be the equivalent of the Major of Washington D.C. (if there is one?), so that gives you an idea about the ACT, although being the seat of Australian Government, has its own state/local Govenment and that is where the bill has been passed.

The ACT is usually one of the first state/territory governments to adopt new "radical" ideas, so there is a chance this could spread through Australia, but only time can tell.

As for whether there's a chance other countries will follow suit, well, I guess that depends on how much they want to be friends with Microsoft (come on, you know if this idea spreads Microsoft will be really pissed off).

Now hopefully they dont turn up drunk this time... (2, Funny)

denks (717389) | more than 10 years ago | (#7687494)

or on the other hand if they share some of that wine around the bill may actually pass!

Support is what kills Open Source... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7687530)

I work for an IT company, among the largest, providing services in the ACT. I'm also one of the few people in this company that will even consider open source solutions to any given problem instead of jumping immediately to a Microsoft offering. Open source solutions are almost invariably dismissed if a Microsoft soution can be cobbled together. While I applaud the intent of this bill I don't think it'll change the status quo.

Government departments, local, State, or Federal have two common traits:
* They are risk averse
* They want someone to blame when things don't go right

Adopting an open source solution when all departments around you are Microsoft shops and all the local IT companies are Microsoft shops is seen as violating both traits.

Risk comes from the possibility that things may not interoperate (without your user base having to actually think for themselves). The first time a Minister or Dept. Head cannot open a memo or check a calendar because of file format problems someone will have to answer. Risk of this occurring increases as Redmond moves to close its file formats.

When open source fails there is no-one to blame. Even though blaming MS for failure in their software is pointless insofar as rectifying the problem it does provide suitable cover for bureaucrats. You and I both know that solutions to most open source problems can be had with a modicum of effort. However, if you cannot buy local IT company support for OpenOffice or whatever then you have to provide this effort yourself - something Australian governments have spent the best part of a decade divesting themselves of the ability to provide.

Good idea, and I hope it works, but I won't be holding my breath.
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