Alston gaffes, competence questioned

A case of mistaken identity sparked fresh criticism from the Opposition on the Federal Government's broadband strategy and Senator Richard Alston's aptitude as a Minister.

At the heart of the faux pas was the appointment of Rosemary Sinclair, managing director of the Australian Telecommunications Users Group (ATUG), to the Broadband Advisory Group.

Communications Minister Alston mistakenly identified Rosemary Sinclair as the recipient of an Order of Australia award in 2002 for her work in preventing child abuse. However, the recipient of this award was a different Rosemary Sinclair. Not only that, this Sinclair is the wife of Ian Sinclair, a former colleague of Alston's.

The Shadow Minister for Communications, Senator Lindsay Tanner, leapt to point out the error.

"It is appalling that after six years in the Communications portfolio, Senator Alston is unaware of the true identity of the leader of a major interest group in his portfolio. It is possible that he is under the illusion that he has appointed the other Rosemary Sinclair to his Broadband Advisory Group."

Tanner said it is hard to have faith in Alston's awareness of telecommunications matters or his approach to broadband if he isn't even sure who he is appointing to the advisory group and dealing with when he meets with ATUG.

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Siobhan Chapman

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