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Open Source Bill For Australian Capital Territory 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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Open Source Bill For Australian Capital Territory

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  • by aheath ( 628369 ) * <> on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:17AM (#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.
  • Territory vs State (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:18AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:18AM (#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.
  • by Norman at Davis ( 707321 ) <> on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:21AM (#7687295)
    According to The Australian [], 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 []) on Microsoft software and support for the next three years.
  • Re:CLUG (Score:3, Informative)

    by Snoopy77 ( 229731 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:29AM (#7687325) Homepage
    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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:31AM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:31AM (#7687334)
    See the article in Computerworld: "ACT (Australian Capital Territory) passes open source law" 4018&fp=16&fpid=0
  • Heart of the Nation (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:35AM (#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.
  • by dilby ( 725275 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:48AM (#7687410) Journal
  • by Norman at Davis ( 707321 ) <> on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:48AM (#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 [], Walter Burley Griffin.
  • More coverage (Score:3, Informative)

    by child_of_mercy ( 168861 ) <johnboy AT the-riotact DOT com> on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:50AM (#7687424) Homepage
    We've got a lot more detail on this, including links to the actual legislation, at RiotACT [] (Canberra focused slashlike)
  • Re:food on the table (Score:3, Informative)

    by child_of_mercy ( 168861 ) <johnboy AT the-riotact DOT com> on Thursday December 11, 2003 @01:53AM (#7687433) Homepage
    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 []
  • by AnotherFreakboy ( 730662 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @02:04AM (#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...

  • 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.
  • by Cosmik ( 730707 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @02:08AM (#7687487) Homepage
    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).
  • by Capsaicin ( 412918 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @02:08AM (#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.

  • by NicksMyName ( 731714 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @02:14AM (#7687526)
    According to Computer World [] the bill was approved today.
  • by xixax ( 44677 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @02:18AM (#7687541)
    The Bill in question is available on the ACT government's web site [] and (as passed) on the member's website []. 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 []


  • Re:wel... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cosmik ( 730707 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @02:22AM (#7687552) Homepage
    The bill was passed today. When the Hansard page is updated, you'll be able to find out who supported it. Out of the 17 members of the Legislative Assembly, only 1 is a Democrat (1 Dem, 1 Green, 1 Independant, 6 Libs, 8 Labor). So, if the Dems, Greens and Ind sided with the Liberals, the Dem would prove efficient, but otherwise - not much use in blocking or ensuring bill go through, really. But in this case, I'm proved wrong, so thumbs up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2003 @03:16AM (#7687722)
    the colonies were seperate in the beginning and then they unified into a federation (there was once a possibility NZ could have been the 8th state, but they wisely chose not to).

    Territories came afterwards, and are soley creations of the federal government. The "australian capital territory" is a dreadful compromise. When the national capital which was provisionally in melbourne (in the south), was to be chosen.... the Sydney people (up north east) didn't want Melbourne to have it, and the Melbourne people didn't want Sydney to have it, and none of the other states wanted either of them to have it.... So halfway between the two major cities a territory was carved out of one of the states and it was plonked down there in the middle of nowhere.

    An "planed" town, built on a circular design - which sorta works, but doesn't. Has the national university, most of the federal branches of government, and little else - nice enough, but I doubt many would say it is the best.

    So the territory government is technically an arm of the federal government which deals with stuff it normally can't touch directly (i.e. secondary education etc, etc). Which is interesting, because it is at once "state" and at once "federal".

The absent ones are always at fault.