CeBIT 2015: Aussie politicos claim ownership over knowledge economy

CeBIT 2015: Aussie politicos claim ownership over knowledge economy

Tony Abbott, Dominic Perrottet and Clover Moore all lay claim

Prime Minister Tony Abbott lays out his government's vision for the knowledge economy

Prime Minister Tony Abbott lays out his government's vision for the knowledge economy

With the mining boom in decline, and a dubious economy, politicians from three strata all laid claim to pushing a tech-based boost to the Aussie economy at CeBIT 2015, held at Olympic Park in Sydney.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott opened the event with a televised speech, outlining what his government is doing to encourage the tech sector.

"It is vital that all of us embrace new technologies to improve the way we do business, and to help the Government has a $400 million dollar industry, innovation and competitiveness agenda," said Abbott.

"We are creating the economic conditions that make it easier for business to succeed, to grow and to employ. We've got the NBN back on track, with 870,000 families and businesses experiencing faster broadband thanks to the NBN.

"We created a new start up incentive to restore and build employee share schemes, and we are cutting $2.4 billion dollars in red tape that so often cripples innovation, and dampens the entrepreneurial spirit."

Appearing in place of the absent NSW premier, Mike Baird, was the NSW state government's minister for finance, services and property, Dominic Perrottet, who unveiled his government's vision for a tech enabled future, specifically aimed at the rapidly expanding millennials market.

"Sydney is the epicentre of the Australian IT industry, and long may that continue," he said.

"In the 12 months in my role as the minister for finance, I have already launched our location intelligence approach, opened an additional datacentre, updated our IT strategy, released a new government app, and most recently announced that in NSW we will be moving to digital licenses over the next four years."

Quoting the lack of patience of Gen-Y (or the millennials) with government of any kind, Perrottet also outlined how the NSW state government has overhauled its approach to the market.

Seventy-five per cent of the workforce will be digital native millennials by 2025, and the state government is busy getting rid of as many paper forms as it can to suit, and consolidating all its services into a single portal, Service NSW (which is also available in app form).

As a new addition, he announced that customers will now be able to look at wait times at Service NSW offices in real time, to avoid long bureaucratic waits.

"That helps customers make informed decisions about which centres to visit, and how to avoid peak periods," he said.

Adobe and Access Economics conducted research with a full report due in late July. But already Perrottet says he has been told by those involved that there is a dividend of hundreds of millions of dollars that governments can reap simply by digitising basic services.

"The researchers estimate that there are over 10,000 forms in the NSW government alone. One of those forms is submitted around 300,000 times, the cost of data entry, scanning, filing and storing can be up to $12 million dollars," he said.

"Each year they estimate that the NSW government spends $50 million on postage. That is a lot of letters being sent in the digital age. Not to mention the nearly 3000 keyboard operators, a fraction of the estimated 50,000 nationwide.

"The government still sends out 1.8 million cheques per year, with 89 per cent of its ads still printed in newspapers and 1000s of paper statements. I just found out we were still employing teams of people who's job it was to fold stuff, and manually seal envelopes.

"It is no wonder that two thirds of millennials think government is inefficient and wasteful."

Perrottet also criticised the lack of business collaboration, over-regulation, and the siloed nature of government which sees no sharing of data amongst agencies.

The new Services NSW app already has a 98 per cent satisfaction rating, he said.

Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, was next on stage to lay out her vision for boosting Sydney's reputation as the country's leading tech city, and for start ups.

Moore said that Sydney today generates around $106 billion worth of economic activity, accounts for over 7 per cent of Australia's GDP, and a quarter of NSW's entire economy. She also boasted that between 2007-2012, the Sydney workforce had grown by 53,000 and the number of businesses grew by 10 per cent. She also boasted that Sydney is now the most popular city in the world for international students.

"With our services economy, our highly skilled workforce and the cities physical attractions, Sydney remains one of the world's most compelling business destinations," she said.

"Global tech companies such as Google, IBM, Atlassian, Dimension Data, Dropbox and Microsoft are all located in Greater Sydney."

Moore claimed that the ICT sector is now the city's fifth largest employer.

"We have over 64 per cent of all Australia's tech start up companies and 15 per cent of Australia's ICT sector jobs."

Read more: WalkMe wins big at CeBIT

Sydney claims 1100 ICT businesses, running from 1-2 person start ups established in the last twelve months, through to larger established players, she said.

Moore said her office is now working with industry and government on its new draft action plan, to help entrepreneurs "start, grow and to scale their business." The plan will go to council approval later this year.

It will focus on strengthening Sydney's competitiveness, to improve productivity and capacity and to promote opportunity, but no further details were supplied.

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