Joint with Ed Husic MP, Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy.
Capping off a litany of fails in the digital economy, the Liberal Government has finally released its underwhelming digital economy strategy: “Australia’s Tech Future”.
Looking more like a promotional brochure than serious strategy, it simply describes initiatives already in train, is vague on targets and outcomes - and, importantly, offers no bold vision to drive growth in our digital economy.
It makes you wonder: after all the delay in getting this done, was it worth the wait?
“To sneak out a long-promised strategy within a breath of Christmas tells you how seriously the Coalition takes this issue,” said Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy, Ed Husic.
“Releasing it - and its small business digital engagement plans - so late in the year suggests the government is more interested in ticking off a long-avoided item on its to-do list, as opposed to developing a serious strategy to drive the digital economy.
“With few performance targets - and in parts scant detail on serious policy challenges around digital regulation - it fails to tackle the biggest challenge to our digital economy: crippling skills shortages.
“It’s been estimated Australia needs 100,000 more digitally-enabled workers, yet this government has proposed little in terms of investment or new money to help respond to the demands of industry and our digital economy,” Mr Husic said.
“On digital infrastructure, the so-called strategy speaks of ‘planning to meet future needs’, even as this Government rolls out a second-rate copper NBN that fails to deliver small businesses with fast and reliable internet in 2018, let alone provide for their future growth and sustainability in a world powered by 5G and AI,” said Shadow Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland.
“On digital inclusion, there is acknowledgement that Indigenous Australians and people with a disability are amongst the most digitally excluded, but little is offered to address those gaps as the digital divide widens under the Liberals and Nationals.
“Undertaking to ‘track Australia’s performance’ without a clearly defined set of targets, it’s clear this Government’s heart just isn’t in it,” Ms Rowland said.
The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has had one consistent thread in this critical policy space: they are announcement addicted and performance deficient. This report exemplifies that completely.
This visionless government can't prepare a strategy for the digital future - and so it didn't, but our economy deserves a better shot at its digital future for the benefit of all Australians.