Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Kate Lundy Awarded an ANU Honorary Doctorate for ICT Advocacy and Policy

Kate Lundy HonLittD (ANU), after award ceremony. Photo by Stuart Hay, ANU.
Kate Lundy HonLittD (ANU),
after award ceremony.
Photo by Stuart Hay, ANU.
On Tuesday Kate Lundy was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters (HonLittD) by the Australian National University in Canberra for her "contribution to advocacy and policy for information, communications and technology". Kate is currently the ACT Defence Industry Advocate, and was a Senator from 1996 to 2015. She held the posts of Australia's Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport.

In 1995 I interviewed Kate over lunch in Canberra, when she was president of the ACT Trades & Labor Council. We found a common interest in computers for a social purpose. Shortly afterward Kate was elected to the Senate and took a close interest in computers and the Internet for economic development and improving lives, during her term as a Senator and after.

In her first speech in the Senate, 7 May 1996, Kate Lundy said:
"Information and how it is communicated are major determinants of power in our society. Many people have little restriction on their ability to convey their views, but there are also many disadvantaged members of our community who, through circumstances beyond their control, find it very difficult to have their voice heard. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that all groups in our society have the public means and the opportunity to form their views without media bias and to be able to express them freely. The importance of public policy relating to the use and control of credible information sources and its increasingly complex delivery technologies cannot be underestimated if we are serious about equitable and affordable access.

By the year 2000 the information sector will be the world's second largest industry. Those nations that develop the infrastructure necessary for this industry to flourish are the nations that will prosper into the next millennium. Infrastructure is not just cable and microwave dishes; it is an education and training system which can increase people's skills in developing software and creating useful content. Already in Australia information and information related activities employ more than 40 per cent of the work force and generate 36 per cent of gross domestic product, and this can only improve.

High quality communications, widespread computer usage and literacy, and a willingness to use modern engineering technologies will be essential ingredients in our economic wellbeing. However, I am not yet convinced that we have sufficiently analysed and discussed the societal and community effects of this shift in our economic base. For example, although the need to take this technology to rural Australia is well recognised, have we explored the long-term impact on the economies of country towns? The geography of Australia provides special challenges in terms of access to information infrastructure; challenges that can be met only in a policy framework with priorities of equal access, universal service and that which puts the needs of Australians—both suppliers and consumers—first. The best way of ensuring this is through public ownership."
From Senator LUNDY, Hansard, Australian Parliament, 6.05 p.m., 7 May 1996.

Senator Kate Lundy and Tom Worthington in a hot air balloon over Canberra. Photograph by Canberra Times, August 1996
Senator Kate Lundy and Tom Worthington
in a hot air balloon over Canberra.
Photograph by Canberra Times, August 1996
In 1996 we took to the air in a Hot Air Balloon Over Canberra, to send photos "Live" on the Internet, promoting a computer conference.

More seriously, Kate lead a series of “Public Sphere” events with Pia Waugh, on policy development  for citizen involvement:
"Although there are certainly many formal mechanisms for participation in Australian Government processes, we thought it would be a great idea to create an online public sphere and facilitate regular topics of interest to both the general public and to the government. This way people from all around Australia can participate online. We will be experimenting with different technologies to get the recipe right for this kind of engagement, and any thoughts on this are very welcome.
Each Public Sphere topic will run for several weeks. There will also be a Public Sphere workshop per topic which will give a physical place for people to speak about their ideas in short concise talks coupled with rigourous discussion. All talks are streamed online for general public access. Feedback and questions will happen live over Twitter both from the participants in the room and from remote participants."

From: Public Sphere, Kate Lundy, 2009.

 Senator Lundy's earlier work on formulating Internet policy for Australia is detailed by Chen (p. 161, 2000). Even the balloon ride gets a mention (Chen, p. 163, 2000). ;-)


Chen, P. J. (2000). Australia's Online Censorship Regime: The Advocacy Coalition Framework and Governance Compared. URL

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