A higher degree of professionalism is required in the Australian ICT industry in order for local development and procurement to flourish, an industry representative has claimed.
Australian Computer Society president, Edward Mandla, said IT purchasers and insurers needed to know they were employing professionals to work onsite.
"Our industry can't formalise until we have professional standards," he said.
The statement follows the recent release of the Federal coalition's ICT election policy. The ACS has come out in support of the 48-page document, which it said tackled several key issues currently facing the production and development of viable enterprises.
Among the various pre- election promises, technology minister, Senator Helen Coonan, vowed to limit professional indemnity insurance requirements for local suppliers to government. By making this more accessible, small and medium IT producers would be able to build up an insurance claims history and thereby satisfy government procurement requisites, Mandla said.
"Senator Coonan has come out with a policy of limiting liability to allow ICT to rise to the professional level of doctors, lawyers and accountants," he said. "This is where the industry needs to mature to.
"We've seen 20 years of every multinational setting up in Australia. They then go to government and show their international reference base of customers. This has resulted in us creating both a political legislative framework and a culture where ICT purchasers are risk averse and against buying Australian."
This was despite the fact that smaller suppliers generally maintained a higher level of skills within their organisation than the multinationals, Mandla said.
"We have to get the government to recognise the skills in our local workforce," he said.
The ACS commended both the coalition and the opposition's overall stance on the ICT industry, particularly for its focus on the significance of the sector to Australia's standard of living.
"Our industry is converging with media," Mandla said. "Communications are increasingly more important and entwined. Everyone - from schools to doctors - needs communications. As a result, we see our industry as a special case."
He also noted Senator Coonan's commitment to addressing the issue of intellectual property (IP) concerns for the technology industry.
"This is the first time ICT production and IP have been linked and referenced properly," he said.
"The problem has been that if you can't see it, you can't comprehend it. We applaud this and suggest that IP services need to be a major focus of future R&D funding."
The ACS' support of the coalition policy lies in sharp contrast to its outcry against the Opposition's charter earlier this month.
Among its concerns was Labor's initiative to shift IT into its own industry portfolio.
Mandla had initially claimed the move would see the local IT industry set back a decade. However, after discussions with Opposition spokesperson, Senator Kate Lundy, he said he recognised the value behind such a move.
"Kate [Lundy] pointed out that this is where all the export incentives come from, so I can see the sense in setting up an ICT portfolio in industry," he said.
Mandla said Senator Lundy had also assured him Labor wanted the industry to deal with a single minister rather than three.