In its fifth year in office, and under increasing scrutiny for its lack of an innovation agenda, the Turnbull Government has announced a working group as it searches for a vision on 5G. 

The announcement follows calls by Labor at the recent CommsDay Congress for the Government to put aside its inertia and act on 5G policy. 

Whilst Labor welcomes this modest development, it is concerned the process could be subject to the same drift which has plagued other important initiatives in the portfolio. 

The Minister has stated 5G will be a key enabler for the Digital Economy Strategy, yet the Government does not currently have a strategy, and only recently commenced consultation after choosing to sit on the sidelines for several years.

The UK Government’s 5G Strategy has articulated clear linkages into its vision for the digital economy, and its approach towards addressing digital inclusion.           

We know that the digital divide is widening in Australia, particularly among certain cohorts, and if Australia is going to reap the benefits of 5G as an enabler it is imperative to have a whole-of-economy plan. 

Australia can and must do better – we simply cannot afford to rest on our laurels. 

The test for the Minister will be whether this is just another inconsequential announcement, or an authentic commitment towards forging a better way forward.

Labor will continue to engage with AMTA, the mobile industry and other stakeholders to ensure Australia is positioned as a world leader to reap the whole-of-economy benefits that the fourth industrial revolution will bring.