The Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) has revised the Ministerial ICT advisory board which will now have Microsoft Australia's managing director Steve Vamos as its chairman.
ICT Minister Senator Helen Coonan said the ICT advisory group was strengthened to include "peak business bodies" to ensure the needs of businesses are also considered in the development of ICT priorities
"The Ministerial ICT advisory group plays an important role in providing the government with strategic advice about the development of new ICT priorities," Coonan said. "ICT offers significant potential to further build economic growth, prosperity and quality of life for all Australians. Strengthening this group will ensure we identify our key areas and capitalize on relevant export and trade opportunities for the effective deployment of ICT."
Alongside Vamos are representatives from HarvestRoad, Alcatel, Data #3, EC Strategies, Canon, Macquarie Bank, National ICT Australia, and the CSIRO ICT Centre.
The revised advisory group met today to identify and develop future ICT priorities.
The group discussed priority areas, including identifying sectors of the economy with the most potential for economic development and ensuring Australia's ICT capability fully supports these sectors - particularly with regard to investment, research, skills and development of personnel - and ensuring government and industry achieve and maintain the best ICT capability over the next five years.
"Given the productivity benefits and major role that ICT is already playing in sectors as diverse as health, mining, finance and agriculture, the Australian government will continue to work with a wide range of industry interests to ensure these gains continue," Coonan said.
Linux Australia president Jonathan Oxer applauded the initiative of having an ICT advisory board, but said more effort should be made to encourage the local, open source industry which has the run-on effect of providing opportunities for local businesses.
"ICT is playing a major role across all industry sectors, [but] the counterpoint is that ICT is also a huge contributor to our current trade deficit," Oxer said. "It is crucial for the ICT advisory board to do all it can to support local ICT companies so we are not just a consumer [of IT]."
Oxer said the advisory board needs to focus on developing a local ICT industry and recognize the increasing role of open source software.
"It would be good to see some representation on the board from companies with strong interest in open source software," he said.