access and pricing of Australian Standards

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If you are interested in the distribution and therefore pricing of  
Australian Standards, you can comment on a discussion paper here, until  

Here is some background:

I went to one of the "public consultations" about distribution (and so  
price) of Australian Standards.

A General Manager from Standards Australia told us that (paraphrased)  
there's no point allowing the public to access standards, because they  
wouldn't understand them.  He used the example of Diesel engines for  
boats - the public wouldn't understand how an engine works so they  
shouldn't be reading the standards about them.

Also he used the metaphor that standards are "tools of trade", "like a  
surgeon's scalpel" and should not be available to the public because  
just being able to read the electrical or gasfitting rules would  
"embolden" people to do wiring and gasfitting work without a license.  
Fortunately the fellow from Standards Australia does not influence  
distribution of scalpels - I find that a Swann-Morton handle with a 10A  
blade, available at any good artists' shop, is very handy for modifying  
prototype circuit boards. And in spite of posessing this marvel of  
sharpness, it never occurred to me to test my beginner's luck and have a  
go at some amateur surgery.

(By the same logic, we could fix the problem of people driving cars  
without a license, by putting the road rules behind a very expensive  
paywall, so people without a license don't get "emboldened" to drive cars.)

The WA parliament's delegated legislation committee said:
"We believe that universal free access to Australian Standards should be  
a right enjoyed by the Australian people, by businesses, by governments,  
by representative groups and by academic institutions.?
If you look up the interview transcripts from that investigation they  
are quite revealing also.

I'm not sure that putting in a submission will have much effect, but at  
least that part of their website is free of charge!

Re: access and pricing of Australian Standards
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Wow, that contract was made just as it was becoming possible to
distribute online as PDFs, and thereby cut out the role of the
distributor in the first place. They've had fifteen years of raking
it in, granting them another five would have to be insanity.

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Hmm yes, insanity.

Still at least the blog post suggests that Standards Australia are
inclined towards breaking the monopoly on distribution, so I guess
the general manager was commenting on the option of allowing free
downloads. Not that his argument makes any sense there either,
especially given what other information can be found for free on the
internet (and before that in, libraries).

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Re: access and pricing of Australian Standards
On 21/07/2019 12:16, Computer Nerd Kev wrote:
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I don't think the deal with SAI Global was a good idea, but being such  
an obviously profitable arrangement for SAI Global, it did at least  
allow Standards Australia to sell SAI Global for a lot of money, so that  
Standards Australia was able to acquire quite a lot of investment  
assets. According to its 2018 annual review, gets most of its income  
from those investments. It only got 18% from royalties, and the WA  
parliament suggested replacing that with government funding since the  
government already pays more than that to read the standards. /$FILE/A39%20S1%2020160623%20p4018a-4019a.pdf

 > ... granting them another five would have to be insanity.
There was some legal dispute about the 5 year extension, but it is my  
understanding that the extension is going ahead because SAI Global was  
entitled to choose to do that, however it is now a non-exclusive deal,  
so Techstreet is also distributing the documents. I think Standards  
Australia might be getting a higher percentage of the royalties than for  
the first 15 years. It is not clear to me that there will be any price  
reduction for users though. The impression that I got at the public  
consultation is that Standards Australia was planning on getting more  
royalties, and being a not-for-profit, it would presumably then have to  
dispose of that extra money somehow. I'm not sure that users will see  
any benefit. I'm going to make my suggestions anyway though.

Re: access and pricing of Australian Standards
On 7/21/2019 1:25 AM, Chris Jones wrote:
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All standards should be freely available online just as ANSI standards are.

Re: access and pricing of Australian Standards
On 21/7/19 1:25 am, Chris Jones wrote:
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I have read the discussion paper, and it's not actually about user  
access or pricing. It's about the new ability of Standards Australia to  
find ways to monetize the standards they control, and monetize the data  
of the users and usage of the standards. They want to sub-license the  
distribution of standards to a significant number of different  
institutions, but still exercise control over those distributors.

Anyone who thinks this is a good idea or will decrease prices is an idiot.

Meanwhile, we have any number of State and Federal laws and regulations  
that mandate compliance with a standard, which usually cost $500 or more  
for a single-user license. Product safety standards, so electronics  
designers don't kill babies by using the wrong batteries? You have to  
pay, if you should have the audacity to want to actually create something.

Meanwhile if the government itself fails to comply with international  
standards (such as some non-compliant and unsafe signage that is  
prevalent along the Hume Freeway), you can't even check or report the  
non-compliance without quoting chapter and verse. The price for the road  
signage standard? >$500 - and that's if you get the right one.

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The same comment is made in the discussion paper. We the sheeple should  
get dumbed-down user-friendly versions of them, with nice colour  
cartoons suitable to our kinder-garten comprehension and educations.

Who will save us from these pesky bureaucrats and idiot law-makers?

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By all means put in a submission, but we also need to lobby our  
parliamentarians to set in place a principle that they cannot enshrine  
any law or regulation which requires adherence to any information that  
is not freely available in full from an authoritative or government-run  
web-site, or as paper copies that are browsable for free in a library.

Ignorance of the law *is* an excuse, if access to the law requires  
payment. Anything else is simply unfair.

Clifford Heath.

Re: access and pricing of Australian Standards
Clifford Heath wrote:

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** That is not fair comment - Standards are written in legalese and nearly  
incomprehensible unless you read them ten times. Even then, you need to rea
d all the related ones to get the context. This is clearly a task only for  
the expert and seriously dedicated types.

IME it is extremely easy to misinterpret a Standard and wind up believing i
t bans something it does not or permits something it does not.  

Try figuring out ( by reading one standard) if step down auto-transformers  
for use with 230VAC supply are banned from sale, or not.  

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 ** Not you, that's for sure.  


.....   Phil  

Re: access and pricing of Australian Standards
On 23/7/19 9:20 am, Phil Allison wrote:
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I'm not opposed to simplified versions. I'm opposed to using them to  
justify restricting access to the full versions.

Re: access and pricing of Australian Standards
Clifford Heath wrote:
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** Until the internet came along, even copies of the Criminal law were only obtainable from a couple of places in Sydney for payment - the Government Printers in Ultimo or the Commonwealth Bookshop in Circular Quay.

It has very long been the case that important information that governs our lives is either not readily available, has to be paid for or is impossible to find cos folk are keeping it secret.  

IME the so called " freedom of information " laws are a sham, anything that might annoy or embarrass is redacted, you get nothing but junk and you have to pay for that too.  

A rather pissed off young man once said to me that the world does not run on the truth, it runs on lies and bullshit.  

....  Phil  

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