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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5163 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

This is just not going to be good legislation. At this stage I don't think there is a real call for it. Imagine if a government were in fact required to show preference to a certain class of software over another class of software. We are then limited in what we can acquire. We can be required to buy open-source software-with no guarantee, because there is not a proprietary support for it-that support is going to be continuous, that it is in fact going to be a useful product over a reasonable time span, whatever it is for the system.

I also understand there is the probability that there will be an amendment moved which says that we are required to consider open-source software. What that means is that we are required to consider it. But we are required to consider it now. We will have a complete chunk of additional legislation that does absolutely nothing more than is required now.

I have said before and I will say it again: this place has to move beyond the level of junk legislation-legislation that is more about the author than it is about the objective. I think that is what we have got here. I am prepared to be convinced otherwise, but I have been talking to the people in administration today. If their opinion is worth anything to you, if their opinion is worth anything to this Assembly, if their opinion can in fact transcend the competitive nature of this place, please listen to the fact that people from our procurement solutions area believe this is bad legislation and will operate to the detriment of the territory and the probable detriment of many of the providers of open-source software.

If the legislation is modified back from saying "show preference"to "show consideration", it will be just a piece of junk. It will not be the first such piece of legislation. From time to time we debate what a dog's breakfast the Financial Management Act has become. It has been the target of members-probably even members of the ALP-that want to make a name in terms of demonstrating that they are keeping the government accountable. I am not being self-righteous about this. There are pieces of legislation in this place that have been tinkered with beyond that which is necessary for good government and for good administration.

I was recommending that we adjourn the debate and I do hope we get an opportunity to do that again. Perhaps reason will prevail. I will commit myself to providing everybody in this place with a full briefing on what is seen by the administrators as a full impact of this legislation before we make it law. Let's get beyond this adversarial approach and make sure that we do not create legislation that, in fact, by its nature, reduces competition, reduces value for money, and in all probability does not benefit those that it is aimed to benefit.

Mr Stefaniak: It is a bit like industrial manslaughter.

MR QUINLAN: Pass it because of the industrial manslaughter bill? That would be bloody logical. Idiots!

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (9.00): Mr Speaker, I have had many members of the local computing industry come and tell me that they are very supportive of this bill. They are very supportive that we should consider open-source standards-

Mr Stanhope: In writing? Have they done that in writing?

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