THE Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has called for a greater focus on the digital economy in its Western Australia pre-election policy statement, making eight recommendations and identifying several key areas of focus in the lead up to the March State Election.
With Western Australia ranking fourth on Australia’s digital inclusion index, there is capacity for WA to move ahead of third place NSW in the next 12 months, according to AIIA CEO, Ron Gauci .
“The COVID pandemic has demonstrated that digital technologies are core to effective public policy, citizen engagement and productivity," Mr Gauci said. "We are now routinely seeing innovative technology driving investments across Australia in areas such as health, mining, defence and education.
“We only need to look at how effective the WA Safe app has proven itself to be in the continuing fight against Covid-19 in WA.
“Government needs to continue to be an exemplar in the digital space, working with the digital industries sector to continue to grow jobs and to open new opportunities within regional communities,” Mr Gauci said.
The Western Australian AIIA Council chair, Sharon Brown reiterated this view.
“Our strategy aims to target opportunities for the digital industries sector to be one of the pillars of continued economic recovery in 2021 and beyond," Ms Brown said.
"We would like to see major spending initiatives, such as the massive MetroNet transport project, include a commitment towards digital capability development,” she said.
A further recommendation was for the government to provide a more competitive platform for the delivery of 'cloud' based services to government agencies.
“The current restricted ICT panel arrangements limit the WA Government’s ability to deliver for the people of WA and we propose a more competitive approach to working with a wider range of providers," Mr Gauci said. "This will boost the industry and aid WA."
AIIA's eight key recommendations are:
- That the WA Government make the cabinet-level appointment of a Digital Industry Minister with a mandate to consult with industry to develop an integrated strategy over the coming 12 months that drives the modernisation of digital services throughout WA.
- That the WA Government continue to drive the development of online service portals for the delivery of both essential and non-essential government services. This includes an ambitious target wherein all WA state government agencies mandate the delivery, across the next two years, of key services to the public via a digital platform.
- The introduction of an open procurement process for government, which allows all public cloud providers, including local WA companies to compete equally. WA will have an environment of competitive marketing for public cloud services and a local platform for public cloud providers within 12 months to generate competition on price and quality of service.
- As part of recovery roadmap government looks at the opportunities presented by digital technology, both in new projects and integrated within existing project commitments.
- That in 2021/22 the WA Government ensures that major spending initiatives include a commitment towards digital capability. The inclusion of a digital taskforce for the MetroNet project is an example of this approach.
- That the government review the state payroll taxation framework, acknowledging both the positives and negatives of our taxation system, with the goal of securing a system that works to foster an enabling environment for local businesses.
- The WA Government makes it a priority in 2021/22 to work with the AIIA on an industry engagement program designed to create a pipeline of digital industry initiatives in support of regional growth and economic diversification within WA. A focus of this program can be the roll out of digital Skills Hubs to drive workforce participation in regional communities.
- In response to the forecast growth in the workforce, AIIA is keen to build on the existing positive relationships in terms of ensuring that training support has the appropriate focus on digital technology, cyber security, and data science.
The AIIA recently released a white paper titled Building Australia’s Digital Future in a Post-COVID World, which emphasised the need to look beyond traditional infrastructure investment by government with more focus on technology infrastructure.