IT experts from Australian universities highlight the ICT policy commitments they hope will emerge from the upcoming Federal Election: University of Technology Sydney, director innovation and enterprise research laboratory center for quantum computation and intelligent systems, professor Mary-Anne Williams:
Australia needs to do more to accelerate progress towards a dynamic and responsive innovation culture. We lack a clear integrated vision and strategies for enriching our schools, universities and businesses with the necessary entrepreneurial spirit that will put us at the forefront of knowledge and technology able to play a leading role in setting the innovation agenda globally. We need policies that will ensure Australia is a leader in innovation, so Australians have choices down the road that we deserve.
Queensland University of Technology’s senior research scientist in the information security institute, Bill Caelli: 1 The Federal Government needs to create education for the next generation of people who are capable of supporting the NBN, there’s not much point having an NBN if no one knows how it works. I want to hear Julia Gillard and the Opposition talk about tertiary education, which is vital for a digital economy, particularly STEM (Science Technology Education Maths) education and particularly to create career paths for the academics who are basically being retrenched because of the downsizing of our ICT in Australia. We’ve heard too much about primary and secondary education, we’ve heard nothing from either side about the critical role of tertiary education in looking after our forthcoming digital economy.
2 Something needs to be done about the regulatory environment for the NBN and for the digital economy. In the NBN the telephone exchange is replaced by the domain name service and over a hundred years we’ve developed the proper legislation and regulation to govern the telecommunication network, but we need exactly the same thing now for the new world of the digital network and we haven’t got it. I believe there has to be a strong regulatory regime in relationship to the digital networks because they are now of national security significance to the nation because the digital economy depends on it.
3 We want the government to stop blaming the end user for the security of their home computer systems. There needs to be a policy where the Government has to look closely at the regulation and the security of the IT industry itself. What is the position of both parties in relationship to the requirements of security not just on the end user but also on the manufacturers and suppliers.
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Head of School computer science and information technology, Professor Lin Padgham: 1 Drop the Internet filter. From a philosophical point of view it’s completely regressive but from a technical point of view, people will be able to get around it anyway so all it’s going to do is cause troubles for and disadvantage ordinary people and the people they are wanting to stop will be able to get around it anyway, as soon as they find a technical solution to that there’ll be a technical way around it.
2 Commit to the National Broadband Network, I think it’s very important and will make a huge difference to Australia particularly in remote areas. I would like to know what the opposition is planning to do instead, that will give the kind of broadband productivity to remote areas and less privileged parts of Australia.
3 Policies to mitigate against the impending skills shortage in ICT, or attracting students into ICT on a tertiary level, and also funding for ICT is a part of that picture as well. Promoting ICT education to high school students and providing scholarships and things like that is one way to go. Another part of that picture is the excellent international students we attract here to do ICT education, some of whom want to stay, so immigration policy is also potentially a part of long term thinking about meeting our ICT skills needs.
4 Funding for NICTA, National ICT Australia is also very important, a lot of government money has gone into that and I think it is a very important initiative in terms of putting Australia on the map internationally with ICT research and leading edge ICT. A continued commitment to NICTA is really quite important.