I am starting to like Malcolm Turnbull. Well sort of anyway. No doubting that he is an aggressive and arrogant bloke who's extreme wealth (he is a BRW Rich Lister)makes sure his feet never touch the same earth that you and I walk on. But this arrogance also means that he is not scared to go out on a limb and put forward his ideas.
Last week we had his 274 Tax Reform Ideas. Which got up a few people, including Federal Treasurer Peter Costello
And this weeks "Idea of the Week" is to give all citizens a permanent email address - that could
look something like firstname.lastname@example.org and would allow the
government, banks and super funds to keep in contact with people forever . It could initially
be voluntary and aimed at younger, techno-savvy Australians, and would make it easier for the government to communicate with the public, while at the same time slashing the government's mail-out costs.
"Basically governments have enormous difficulties in communicating," Turnbull told Crikey "You talk about the cost of communicating with the public with ministers and they just roll their eyes," he said, although he wouldn't offer up an estimate of how much money his scheme could save the government.
So How serious is Turnbull about the idea? "I'm not suggesting that it's going to
be government policy next week, or even next year, but it is an interesting idea," Turnbull said. "I think that the novelty of the concept is that it's unique and it's permanent."
An interesting idea. Sure is. But, like his Tax Ideas, this one is being quickly ridiculed. According to Irene Graham, Executive Director of internet group Electronic Frontiers Australia, a scheme like Turnbull's could open up sensitive information like bank account info, superannuation and employment stats to anyone that wanted to know.
"Ridiculous, that's the only word to describe it," Graham told Crikey.
On the face of it, this does seem a like a good, if not impractical idea. Being assigned a permanent email address does not mean people will read mail. Especially once it becomes full of government spam. And let's not kid ourselves, The Government will need to send paper correspondence either to ensure the person receives it, or just cause they want to. Much in the same way we all still send letters to people. Not to mention that fact the not everbody has an email address or access to a computer.
But despite all of that, isn't is kinda refreshing to see someone from one of our mainstream political parties putting some different idea's out and about. And we need to remember that he isn't putting this forwards as some kind of policy idea, it is just an idea.
Just like his tax ideas, it is different, and deserves a bit of discussion and debate.