||[Mar. 16th, 2004|10:20 pm]
I went to hear Senator Kate Lundy address a small branch meeting of the Australian Computer Society this evening. Senator Lundy is the Federal opposition person interested in things related to Information Technology.
The bulk of her talk concerned the so called "Free Trade" agreement with the United States which from the sounds of things isn't so much about free trade but ensuring that whatever trade takes place is constrained by the laws of the United States and large corporations in the United States. At the moment the majority of DVD players in Australia are region free (despite the labelling which says that are not) which means they will play material from anywhere in the world. I believe if the free trade agreement goes ahead there will criminal sanctions for a whole host of things that are not considered criminal in Australia at the present time, such as circumventing region coding (designed to hinder playback) on DVD players. In Australia region protection is currently regarded as an infringement of a persons right to play material of their choice and manufacturers build them region free for sale in Australia even if they label them as "Region 4".
Naturally the Australian Labour Party (currently in opposition) are somewhat less then overwhelmed with this so called "free trade" agreement and according to the Hon. Ms. Lundy it's a take it or leave it affair, and while it only requires ratification by the executive arm of the current Howard government it requires "legislative amendments" and these changes to legislation are the means by which the agreement can be blocked.
There was some talk of the dangers of bi-lateral trade agreements rather than multi-lateral trade agreements. It was noted that the United States is somewhat larger and more powerful than Australia (meaning the corporations that control the United States are somewhat more powerful than Australia).
"Free Trade" sounds as wonderful idea but this isn't about "free trade" at all. It's about large overseas corporations controlling not only technology in this country but also the development of any new "digital content" (meaning technologies as yet not invented) being at the behest of approval by US corporations.
I don't believe various aspects of the agreement are all that appealing to farmers in the United States either.
I have some doubts about the Australian Labour Party as an alternative government however mainly because Mark Latham the leader is something of an unknown and he has done "about turns" on some issues.
At least the Hon. Ms. Lundy did her presentation without those dreadful Powerpoint slides and did it without a microphone as well but then she is a politician and they don't normally run parliament on Powerpoint slides (not yet anyway).
I did some more study and discovered that when doing break even analysis there are usually two break even points rather than the one I've learnt about in the past. (break-even is where an enterprise makes neither a profit nor a loss).