The Australian Information Industry Association has backed the Coalition’s digital economy policy despite strong criticism from Labor communications minister Anthony Albanese.
The policy, launched yesterday in Melbourne by opposition communications spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull, aims to cut waste in technology procurement, allow Australians to more easily deal with government departments and to improve Australia’s world online rankings when compared to other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.
Mr Turnbull told a press conference the government would accelerate its take up of Cloud computing and ensure all government interactions with the public would be conducted digitally by 2017.
He also rehashed a plan for “electronic pigeon holes”, first mooted in 2005 and then again in 2011.
“We are going to drive an aggressive Cloud-first strategy,” he said. “It’s critical to challenge the box huggers and move as much as we can into the Cloud.
“We will aim to be at a point where a business which is dealing with government all the time, federal, state and local, will know there’s one place for all of that communication. It will be direct, it be there forever, it will be secure, it will be properly encrypted, and of course the savings to government will be gigantic,” he said.
Turnbull brushed off questions on the Coalition’s NBN Fibre-to the-Node plan describing it as a “narrow technical issue” and essentially a “technical debate”.
“It’s about the pipes, the real issue is what are you going to put through the pipes," he said. "We don’t have a shortage of technology, what we have is a shortage of technological imagination.”
AIIA chief executive Suzanne Campbell said the Coalition’s policy acknowledges the vital contribution ICT makes to Australia’s global competitiveness.
“The intention to work with states and territories to deliver a coherent approach to building Australia’s digital economy, and leveraging developments already underway will help drive the momentum required to ensure Australia re-establishes its global competitiveness in world ICT rankings,” she said.
“The Coalition’s intention to engage industry and the private sector more closely in an advisory capacity, and to provide leadership and coordination in areas such as standards for verified online identities, signals a fresh opportunity for our industry to support government to achieve its digital economy objective.”
A spokesperson for communications minster Anthony Albanese said the policy lacked vision and scope, mirroring its second rate broadband plan which ignored the practical benefits such as Cloud computing for small and medium sized businesses.
“The Coalition’s policy also remarkably identifies South Korea, Denmark, Sweden and Singapore as the most mature and sophisticated digital economies,” he said.
“There is good reason for this. South Korea, Denmark, and Sweden are among the four leading OECD countries for the proportion of households connected to fibre to the home."