Peak industry body the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has continued calls for an innovation minister within state and federal governments, with the release of its manifesto for the NSW state elections.
The manifesto comes much earlier than normal for the industry body, which released the equivalent for Victoria only a fortnight before voters went to the polls.
The NSW state elections are expected to be held in March next year.
In the two-page manifesto, the AIIA urges a victorious government to create a portfolio of Minister for Innovation and Investment with responsibilities to manage productivity of ICT deployment across financial services, agriculture, manufacturing, health, gaming and education. The clause echoes similar calls from the body ahead of the Federal Election in August, when it suggested a Minister for Productivity to facilitate ICT within industry.
Its calls were answered to some degree with the addition of a digital productivity portfolio to communications minister Stephen Conroy’s responsibilities.
“We find it hard as an industry to engage with the health department, the education department or with energy agencies, so this minister and portfolio is a great opportunity to drive these issues to the advantage of our industry,” AIIA chief executive, Ian Birks, said at the time.
While a whole-of-government role at the federal level, Conroy’s responsibilities have so far remained vague and currently only apply to the use of broadband within government agencies.
Though an innovation minister takes top priority on the AIIA’s manifesto, it has also called on an incoming state government to reform innovation policy and engage early with industry to achieve efficiencies within government procurement. Other recommendations include:
- Attracting investment support for research and development from the private sector
- Deliver “citizen-centric services” through efficient internal use of ICT
- Encourage development of digital economy applications and services through an investment pool
- Track NSW economic and social capital performance against global metrics
- Develop improved cybercrime strategies
- Address skilled workforce issues in the health sector
- Encourage rapid rollout of the National Broadband Network
- Develop skill retention strategies for NSW ICT workforce
- Develop carbon emissions reduction strategies through use of ICT
“Industry believes the national and individual wealth currently enjoyed by Australians will depend on the Australian governments showing leadership in using the digital economy to achieve continued productivity and competitiveness in NSW,” the body’s manifesto reads.
The current Labor Government has attempted to accentuate its investments within the ICT industry. Premier Kristina Keneally this week pointed to the government’s $110 million investment in industry attraction from the private sector, its $54 million commitment to research body National ICT Australia since 2002, and its recent $36 million digital economy strategy, part of which has yielded a new research lab to develop applications for the National Broadband Network.