The AIIA is concerned by the underinvestment in the State’s ICT capability.
Australia’s industry representative body for innovation technology, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has welcomed the Queensland Budget with its strong focus on skills and job growth.
However, the AIIA feels that there is a missed opportunity to build a strong position for Queensland’s key industries through the investment in innovation technology as the most advanced economies have done.
The 2021–22 Queensland Budget includes the flagship A$3.34 billion Queensland Jobs Fund which brings together the government’s key industry attraction and industry development programs. The fund incorporates a range of existing programs and commits funding for a number of new initiatives to strengthen supply chains, foster innovation, diversify regional economies, create jobs and boost income levels.
About A$39.6 million will be allocated to support service enhancements across the state, including continued call centre and online services such as the 134 COVID and the Check in Qld app, the next stage support for the Digital Archives Project, and a focus on cyber security.
Additionally, A$233.6 million will be distributed for a range of capital works projects, minor capital projects and replacement of health technology equipment at various facilities across the state. A further A$26.8 million has been allocated for a series of programs to enhance operational telecommunications technology to benefit fire, police and ambulance responses, said AIIA CEO Ron Gauci.
“With long held skills shortages in Australia’s ICT sector, the flagship A$3.34 billion Queensland Jobs Fund is welcomed. Alongside the policy, the AIIA Skills Hub – launched in conjunction with Queensland University of Technology – can improve the supply of skilled Australian workers and map employee skills to career pathways and relevant training courses,” said Gauci.
Despite the focus on skills and however, Queensland is coming last on the digital inclusion index and should concern all Queenslanders, especially as the ICT Industry is key to Australia’s economic recovery post COVID-19. Successive Queensland Governments have underinvested in the State’s ICT capability and is now being left behind as the rest of Australia and the national economy becomes digitised, acknowledged Gauci.
“It is clear that digital innovation and technology is at the heart of every industry and the Queensland Government must continue to invest in the sector to secure our economic independence for years to come,” he said. “To date, investments made by the government into innovation technology have been in steps. However, to see the real benefit the sector could bring to boost economies; investments need to be made significantly.”
According to Gauci privacy and security will become increasingly important as more digital services become embedded as part of our daily life. The A$11 million dedicated to improving cybersecurity in government agencies is a good foundation, however with risks becoming more and more frequent the AIIA welcomes the opportunity to work with the Government on new initiatives in this sector to maintain confidence in the digital economy.
“Australia’s ongoing prosperity depends on its ability to innovate, requiring leadership, clear policies and a national innovation strategy,” he said. “As a nation, we must support our innovators and ensure Australia can retain ownership of our brilliant creations and ensure we do not fall behind our international peers.”