MEDIA RELEASE - DIGITAL DIVIDE CONTINUES TO WIDEN UNDER LIBERALS - 30 AUGUST 2018

Joint with Ed Husic MP, Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy

Labor remains deeply concerned about evidence of growing inequality as reported in the Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2018, released this week. 

The Index shows the gap between included and excluded Australians is substantial and continues to widen for some groups, particularly those with low levels of income and employment.

Australians are spending more time online and spending more of their total household budget on internet services than ever before. This exerts pressure on the households that can least afford it and exacerbates the ‘digital divide’ between richer and poorer Australians. 

While digital inclusion is improving for many, the sad fact is that there are still more than 2.5 million Australians who are not online and missing out on the education, health, social and financial benefits that come with connection. 

“Once again, the Index demonstrates that action must be taken to overcome barriers to participation in the digital age yet in five long years the Liberal-National Government has failed to produce a digital inclusion strategy to arrest the widening digital divide”, Michelle Rowland said.

“The only consistent feature of digital transformation under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has been stuff up after stuff up, wasting huge amounts of taxpayer funds - and leaving the general public in the lurch when they need online access to government," Mr Husic said. 

"To make matters worse, during the course of the last year the Coalition has failed to outline a plan to lift digital skills within our economy and broader community, despite skill shortage issues being highlighted repeatedly." Mr Husic said. 

It is the interests of all Australians, including government and industry, to tackle the digital divide as a matter of urgency. 

Addressing inequality is Labor’s defining mission. There is an urgent need for action on digital inclusion and a Labor Government would make it a priority.