Political parties clash in ICT policy debate as state election countdown begins

NSW opposition to establish technology advisory board

Gearing up for the March 24 state election, all sides of the political divide have nominated their key ICT initiatives for NSW during the next term of government.

Speaking at a debate hosted by the Australia Computer Society (ACS), the Liberal, Labor and Greens parties presented their policies on ICT prosperity, skills shortages, procurement policies and the potential for a dedicated ICT minister

NSW shadow minister for infrastructure, housing and commerce, Greg Pearce, said ICT policy should be driven by outcomes rather than cost, pointing to its plan to create a technology advisory board to represent the industry.

"The government's policy is not designed to promote innovation and it's basically cost driven for SME's to get involved," Pearce said.

"There needs to be an overhaul of procurement policy, notably in tendering. Our approach is that government procurement must be driven by outcomes; we need to work with the industry to develop packages."

As part of the overhaul, Pearce said a technology advisory board will be established with representatives from industry to regularly meet with the minister to enable consistent dialogue between the private sector and government.

NSW minister for commerce, finance and industrial relations, John Della Bosca, said trading opportunities between government and business should be encouraged to bolster the ICT industry.

Della Bosca admitted government agencies have been a "bit clumsy" in the past when it comes to the purchase of ICT equipment.

Moreover, he said innovation needs to be encouraged.

"We have put in place an innovative procurement pilot which provides 20 local companies with ICT products and services with the opportunity to sell to government," Della Bosca said.

"ICT is strong in NSW as both an industry sector and as an enabler of the economy."

Greens NSW upper house candidate, John Kaye, identified education and training, equity of access to high speed Internet connections and the use of open standards with open source alternatives as the three top priorities for the forthcoming state election.

In fact it was the Greens that livened up a relatively flat debate when party representatives pushed the government to adopt more open source technology over proprietary software.

The debate was hosted by the dean of the Macquarie Graduate School of Management, professor Roy Green.

He said the ICT industry accounts for 85 percent of national productivity growth in manufacturing and 75 percent in services.

It employs 195, 000 people (39 percent of the national total) in NSW.

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