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Open source is a low risk political strategyMatthew Aslett, November 23, 2007 @ 8:49 am ET
With Australian voters set to take to the polls tomorrow to vote in the country’s Federal election, both iTWire and iTNews (I guess they have a thing for lower case i down under) are reporting the results of a survey by Open Source Industry Australia (OSIA) that indicates that all the major political parties in Australia are strong supporters of open source software.
As iTWire reports: “The Australian Democrats, the Australian Labor Party, the Greens and the Liberal-National Coalition all gave favourable replies to OSIA’s questions, but some seemed warmer than others. For example, the Greens’ policy is to encourage government use of Open Source software, and the Democrats previously introduced legislation requiring government departments to consider Open Source during the procurement process. Labor policy is that government tenders should not discriminate against open source, while the Coalition settles for ‘informed neutrality’.”
The OSIA has also made the questions and answers available for download (PDF). A quick look shows that some of the questions can be considered leading (“Does your party support preventing spurious patents from hampering software innovation?”) but that the political parties have in the most part taken time and effort to explain their reasons for supporting open source and open standards.
One question that arises is whether they could seriously have done otherwise. Given the potential of open to reduce the amount of tax payers’ money spent on national and local IT projects, would any politician be daft enough to speak out against open source.
While the survey points to some potential pro-open source policies, the results do not necessarily mean that Australia will be converting to open source in the near future. What it does prove is that, contrary to some opinions, supporting open source (or at least being seen to) is a low risk political strategy.
P.S. A poll of the web sites of US Presidential hopefuls in June by Douglas Karr indicated that 48% were running Linux, compared to 43% running Windows and 9% FreeBSD. 70% of Democratic candidates were running Linux, compared to 31% of Republicans.
P.P.S. Speaking of the Southern hemisphere, I will be on
vacation holiday next week. I’ll leave you in Raven and Jay’s capable hands.
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