Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/03/28/this_man_must/
This man must be the biggest luddite in history
And unfortunately, he's a cabinet minister for IT
The man you see pictured above may be the greatest luddite the world has ever seen, which is particularly ironic because he happens the be the minister for Communications, Information Technology and The Arts for the Australian government.
Meet Senator Richard Kenneth Robert Alston.
Rich is behind a number of proposals in Australia that would seem to point to an overwhelming miscomprehension of the Internet. He also appears to view himself as a moral crusader in which he will cleanse Australia while the rest of the world descends into hell.
Most recently, Rich plans to introduce a law that outlaws any online gambling whatsoever for Australian citizens. Companies can still sell betting services to people outside the country though. This comes close behind a plan to make email forwarding illegal. Oh, and not forgetting the law which holds people legally responsible for anything they post on the Internet which is not suitable for children to view (that decision being made by the police).
While Senator Alston seems dedicated to nannying an entire nation and subsequently destroying Australia's Internet industry, we feel we should point out that he was awarded the Award for Outstanding Contribution to the IT Industry by the Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry at the end of 1999. Even more irony for you. He wasn't always bad - see this article that shows how he set up a system to get telecoms access to all parts of Australia. And here he's backing efforts to get libraries online.
It would seem that Rich doesn't have a problem with the Internet itself, but only the way people use it for the wrong reasons (according to his mind). Unfortunately, accounting for other people's preferences and giving the freedom to do so without fear of prosecution is a key element of democracy - the process by which he has become Deputy Leader of the government - and, of course, the Internet.
But then there is also a whole range of entertaining and conspiracy-based ideas. Is he being blackmailed by Rupert Murdoch, who sees the Internet as a threat? Has he found the Lord? Is he really a robot? Hopefully we will find out before the plug on Australia is pulled and the military cordon around the island prevents anyone from leaving or arriving.