The UK Is Eating Our Lunch

The United Kingdom has a history of building reasonably decent empires.

The recent news that Australian tech company Atlassian is moving their base of operations to the UK is depressing, but completely unsurprising. Sure, Australia’s an expensive place to do business – but the UK are going out of their way to make themselves ludicrously sexy for technology companies.

I first found out about the UK tax incentives when some friendly people from the UK consulate approached me after I’d participated in a panel at the NICTA TechFest 2013 (along side Matt Barrie from and Professor Stuart Feldman from Google – the guy that created ‘make’, no big deal), discussing ways to address the ICT skills shortage in Australia. At Parliament House. In Canberra. Right before Prime Minister Julia Gillard took the stage to talk about innovation in Australia.

Seriously, at an event to try to help draw attention to technology in Australia these guys came right up to me and basically started talking about all the reasons why I should be trying to move our company to the United Kingdom. I was impressed by their audacity – but I was even more impressed by what they were offering.

The people from the consulate made a good pitch. There’s a 225% tax credit for research and development, they have a thing called the Patent Box offering significant tax breaks on profits made from patents, they’ve got a tech-friendly ‘entrepreneur visa’ to make it easy to get there, decreases in corporations tax, and – oh, what else is there? Oh yeh, it’s right next to EUROPE which has like a jillion people, so a giant market.

London is great.

Shortly after that, they got in touch and asked if we’d be interested in talking to some of their people in Brisbane (I imagine they try to have tendrils everywhere, so they have well-dressed Englishmen scattered strategically around the country, ready to be dispatched to technology companies at a moments notice). A couple of nice chaps turned up and we had a chat where they went into some more detail about what is involved in moving to the UK.

They also offered to do a bit of an analysis for us to figure out what the market was like in our specific area. This is basically a free service they provide – looking up a bunch of stuff and doing some (fairly basic, but helpful) market analysis for you. Shortly afterwards they sent through a nice report with heaps of detail about telcos and data centres and that sort of thing, with a bit of a reminder about all the other perks.

A few months after that I got an invite to a breakfast put on by London and Partners, the official promotional organisation for the city of London. I went along just to check it out, but it was mostly a repeat of what I already knew – just with a bit more focus on London.

Still, I was again impressed not only by the pitch (PDF), but the simple fact that the United Kingdom is currently focused like a laser on making their country attractive to technology companies. They know the future is about technology and are displaying adaptability accordingly.

It’ll be sad to see Atlassian go. It’ll be sad to watch others follow. It’ll be sad if Australia doesn’t treat this as a wake-up call.

Non-commercial unsolicited email is not ‘spam’ in Australia

So for the last few months, I (via the QGL mailing list) have been receiving a bunch of what I consider to be ‘spam’ from someone called Frank Walker. It’s unsolicited email with a clear focus – commerical/political in nature, all referencing a handful of sites – and seemingly, no way at all to make it stop. Unsubscribe requests are not honored, the mails going out are going to many people via a Cc: field, and it’s clear that other people receiving these emails were not expecting them and want them to stop too.

This somewhat obnoxious person has compiled a list of various mailing addresses – including MPs like Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull and various interest groups – and has been spamming anti-Labor political propaganda (primarily about global warming) for a few months.

Frank Walker does not respond to unsubscribe requests. There’s no useful information identifying him – in fact, I suspect ‘Frank Walker’ is a pseudonym, as shortly before he arrived in my Inbox I was getting a bunch of extremely similar emails from another name and email address. I complained to the ISP about this behaviour and shortly after, Walker arrived on the scene. Possibly a coincidence, but who knows? But in short, he seems to violate pretty much every section of the “What is spam?” rulebook for Australians.

I contacted the ACMA about Mr Walker, assuming that this qualified as spam. The ACMA got back to me very quickly and confirmed that it is, surprisingly, not spam. It’s not commercial in nature:

it does not appear to be commercial in nature and therefore unlikely to
be, for the purposes of the spam act, considered a unsolicited commercial message.

Most annoying.

Fortunately I have technical know-how to simply block these stupid emails on our mail server. Others are not so lucky – several of the unwilling recipients of this drivel have replied-to-all (yes, everyone is just included in one big “to” line; Mr Walker either is ignorant of the Bcc field or has done this intentionally to really piss everyone off) asking to be unsubscribed. I assume, like my unsubscribe request, that it was ignored.

If you’re getting Mr Walker’s silly emails, with their propaganda (the latest post is “KEVIN RUDDS REPORT CARD”, the contents of which are quite predictable) and silly references to nutbag blogs, then simply mark him as spam in your mail client and it will eventually go away – but remember, it’s not really spam!

(For what it’s worth, I’m no rabid Labor supporter. I think their policies, particularly when it comes to technology, are uninformed or outright stupid, like the Internet filter.)

Update: This person has changed email addresses and is now identified as ‘Annie Walker’ of Clearly an intentional effort to evade spam filters.

Update: This person has changed email addresses and is now identified as ‘William Jones’ of

Update 2010/08/30: Another new email address, this time ‘John Richardson’ of

Update 2010/09/20: Another new address! ‘John Parkinson’ of How much spare time does this guy have!

Update 2010/09/28: New address: ‘Wendy Allen’ of

Update 2010/10/28: New address ‘Jamie Wilson’ of

Update 2010/11/01: New address ‘Lois Philips’ of

Update 2010/12/06: New address Frank Johnstone of ‘’

Update 2010/12/21: New address Jamie Wilson of ‘’

Update 2011/07/05: After a bit of a break, two new addresses: Prakein Woldnomish of ‘’, and Richard Jenkins of ‘’