AIIA Pushes for the Creation of a Minister of Government Services and Digital Economy Position

The Australian Information Industry Association is urging the next government to create a new Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy at cabinet level.

the AIIA the proposed agency will ensure Australia is a leading digital government by 2025 and then a leading digital economy by 2030.

The AIIA says there is now a need to better align and coordinate the various digital economy initiatives under one minister and one portfolio.

The current Minister of Digital Economy – suggested Minister AIIA – has already coordinated digital economy initiatives and policy and advocated for important budgetary initiatives. The AIIA says having a Minister for the Digital Economy has been a solid step, but the next opportunity is that the Minister should focus and expand the scope of digital responsibilities within this portfolio.

The new responsibility will involve overseeing technology regulation, which must pursue the productivity of the economy. It will see the creation of a Council of Technology Regulators that the AIIA has previously called for.

Bureaucracy will affect the digital economy – from cyber regulation to technology – which needs to be addressed and coordinated.

“Technology is a key driver of economic growth that will create job opportunities, improve services and allow us to be globally competitive. Now is the time for the government to recognize the opportunities that the technology sector will provide and ensure that the right processes and systems are in place to make this a reality. The federal government has important and achievable goals to be a leading digital government and digital economy. To do this, AIIA is calling for a Minister of Government Services and Digital Economy,” says AIIA CEO Ron Gauci.

The proposed new AIIA portfolio must incorporate strategic national procurement policies to ensure that it is in line with government policy and direction.

This should include critical AI and Quantum strategies, technology commercialization policies, and incentives.

The portfolio would belong to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministry. Its extended responsibility includes:

1. Government Digitization Services and Whole of Government Architecture falling under the role of the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA to remain and retain this responsibility but reports to the Minister)

2. DTA Supported Digital Identity and Data Sharing Programs

3. The work of the working group on the digital economy

4. Technology regulation, including cyber regulation for non-critical industries (as defined by CI SoNS)

5. Work of the Task Force on Document Execution Modernization and Electronic Invoicing Initiatives

6. The Made in the Australia Office’s AIIA policy which supports the use of public procurement to help SME capabilities and create long-term strategies to support Australian technology procurement

7. Public procurement reform and policies for SMEs

8. Consumer Data Rights Policies

9. Coordinating role of digital skills initiatives

10. Industry-Defense Critical Liaison Channel around Critical Technology Initiatives

11. Quantum Strategies and AI

12. The minister should have a say in government-wide commercialization and incentives strategy, including R&DTI, AI and quantum commercialization and patent box, and seek innovation in program delivery

“AI and quantum computing offer huge opportunities for economic growth for Australia. It is essential that a minister focus solely on supporting and implementing national strategies for key areas of digital growth The location of these industries is irrelevant, Australia can lead the world, from our cities and our regions,” comments Gauci.

“Australia’s ICT capabilities must be a priority for our next government. Streamlining strategic national procurement policies and critical technologies is necessary to support Australia’s ICT sector, both large vendors and SMEs. It is important that Australia’s domestic capabilities in the sector are supported and recognised, we have seen over the past two years that we cannot rely on other countries to provide services and talent to fill our shortages says Gauci.

“The skills shortage in the ICT sector is a major challenge that the next government will have to address. Reforming the Australian curriculum to prioritize the digital economy is one way to address long-term skills, while reskilling, upskilling and immigration will play a key role in the short to medium term to address the noted shortage. A Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy will need to work with Cabinet to drive reform to this effect and ensure that the digital economy can continue to support all economic sectors to improve productivity and growth,” Gauci recommends.

Earlier this month, the AIIA recently released its Presentation of the federal government’s 2022 pre-budget and pre-election policyDetailing 24 key recommendations to help the Australian tech sector grow and support the Australian economy, the selected recommendations include:

Australia’s Skills Agenda: including recommending reform of the Australian curriculum to prioritize digital economy and Industry 5.0 capabilities for primary and secondary school students.

Emerging Critical Technologies: Includes a quantum strategy to be executed within 12 months, which notes additional funding and establishes a national AI commercialization hub.

National Capability: Establish a ‘Made in Australia’ office within DPM&C.

Commercialization Program: Undertake urgent work to support commercialization based on government-funded research. Create a separate tax incentive for R&D software and expand the limited scope of the proposed patent box.

Ashley C. Reynolds