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2022 Election Monitor

by Staff Writers •
Free resource

Watch this space in the lead-up to the Federal election to keep up with key initiatives, announcements and campaign efforts.

WEEK SIX

LABOR

Although Labor’s week was light on specific IT initiatives, preferring to focus on more bread-and-butter issues in the final week of the campaign, there was cause for celebration for those in the tech sector with some announcements.

Labor’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, which is being touted for investment in a range of sectors will include a $1 billion Critical Technologies Fund to expand capability in areas such as AI, robotics and quantum computing.

Another $1 billion will go towards supporting advanced manufacturing in a range of industries, which will likely entail use of digital technologies.

$220 million for the Strengthening Medicare GP Grants program would see investment in IT upgrades to support telehealth services.

COALITION

Going into the final week, the Coalition has gone on the offensive, releasing their campaign costings which include an increase to the Australian Public Service (APS) efficiency dividend from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Finance Minister Simon Birmingham have used the release of their campaign costings to question the economic credentials of the Opposition.

ICT-relevant news included the creation of a Tech Workforce Roundtable with industry and the introduction of cyber security standards for smart devices.

Supply chains of semiconductors were also in focus, with $15 million set aside for monitoring and forecasting broader supply chains, specific funding for a national semiconductor plan and grants funding for local semiconductor manufacturing.

AgTech continues to receive attention in funding announcements, with a $50 million Trailblazer partnership announced, alongside another $50 million program aimed at the space sector. 

WEEK FIVE

This week saw a number of debates, the first between Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and his Labor counterpart Jim Chalmers. Debt, taxation and wages dominated – however, some discussion turned to public service reform, with Chalmers calling the government’s perceived inaction on the 2019 Thodey Review of the APS a “missed opportunity”.

The debate between Defence Minister Peter Dutton and his counterpart Brendan O’Connor saw questions asked about the increase in labour hire contracting. O’Connor referred to the planned review of outsourcing in the APS and a promise to put $250 million towards Veterans’ Affairs. Dutton reiterated the government’s defence spending record in comparison to previous Labor Government’s levels.

The second leader’s debate on Sunday night was a rapid-fire affair with questions ranging from defence spending and foreign policy to debt and wages growth. The final debate to be held on Wednesday.

LABOR

Labor’s fifth week of the campaign was relatively light on ICT announcements.

Albanese was busy on the hustings around the country, announcing funding for a major expansion of the Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide, spruiking funding for job creation in Tasmania and announcing $2.2 billion in funding for the proposed Suburban Rail Loop in Melbourne.

In a speech to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Albanese announced a “New Labor Playbook for National Productivity Reforms”. He stressed the need to boost productivity and economic complexity in Australia, reiterating Labor’s goal to boost the tech sector.

The sole digital announcement was a commitment to fund a HearHub for Tasmania, a digital platform for deaf children which currently operates in all other states.

COALITION

The Liberal Party saw an explosion of announcements across the board.

As part of a broader new parents package, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced $13.7 million to expand the Birth of a Child Life Event Service pilot. The program is a result of collaboration between the ACT and federal governments and an example of the government’s long-held desire to design services around life events.

Employment Minister Stuart Robert announced $5 million for the creation of a digital “skills passport” which will allow individuals to “rack and stack” credentials, providing an all-in-one proof of attainment and advice for future education and career pathways. $10.8 million in funding was announced to “develop new micro-credentials in classroom management” as well as $7.2 million to develop a national data set to assess the impact of COVID-19 on schools.

The Nationals announced $6 million for the funding of an AgTech Innovation Hub for Central Queensland University in Rockhampton. Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and Minister for Regionalisation Bridget McKenzie have both made statements during the campaign talking up the potential of AgTech to industry and regions.

Defence will receive $1 billion for ‘Project Greyfin’, including upgraded communications, intelligence and other equipment for special operations forces. Minister Dutton also touted a co-funded program with Anduril Australia to create autonomous robotic submarines.

Continued funding for suicide prevention initiatives aimed at LGBTIQ+ communities. This included $3.7 million for projects including the use of large-scale datasets to provide insight into mental health and suicidality, and $500,000 in grant funding to Jesuit Social Services to provide online support for those impacted by suicide.

A $17.9 million package will include enhancing the online small business energy check tool.

Many grants funding announcements had specific ICT components including:

$24 million for the Medical Research Future Fund including funding for research into new models of care such as data-driven emergency care (Sydney University), digitally-enabled geriatric care (Flinders University) and a state-wide learning system to evaluate and deploy new models of care in South Australia.

$6 million for round two of the Indigenous Tourism Fund, with previous funding helping to create virtual experiences.

$6 million to be spent on space industry in South Australia, including a facility for rocket launches, as part of Round 2 of the Integration and Translation Streams of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

WEEK FOUR

LABOR With school holidays finally out of the way, the election campaign finally got into full swing, with a stronger focus on major policy announcements, and less on trivia.   

Labor had a busy week of digital and ICT related announcements.    It held its official 2022 Federal Election Campaign launch in Perth on 2 May where Albanese reiterated his key initiatives and promises.  The release of its Budget Strategy confirmed spending on consultants will be reduced by $3 billion. Appearing on ABC’s 7:30, Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers emphasised the party’s intention to invest in the digital economy and advanced manufacturing.  

Labor pledged $500m to roll out a national network of electric vehicle charging stations and confirmed rumours that it would introduce an Australian Advanced Strategic Research Agency (ASRA), a homegrown version of the US military’s infamous Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), with $1.2 billion in funding over 10 years. 

On Saturday Labor reiterated its earlier commitment for a ‘Robodebt Royal Commission’ and promised a “user audit” of the myGov platform, along with guarantees that user data will be stored in Australia, and a pledge to hire an additional 200 staff at Services Australia.    Labor will expand the nation’s mining science technology capability through the $1 billion Value-Adding in Resources Fund. Funding will be channelled from the Party’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.  

LIBERAL

It was a comparatively quiet week for digital and ICT news from the coalition parties.  

The Prime Minister pledged $3.8 million for OurHerd, a youth mental health digital platform, and re-announced intentions to introduce anti-trolling laws and enhance eSafety capability in schools.   

Morrison announced that 450,000 of the 1.3 million jobs that his Government will create in five years will be in regional Australia. “Our economic plan is backing our regions to grow even more, and create hundreds of thousands of jobs, with more than $21 billion in the budget being invested into developing Australia’s regions.” 

The National Party made several commitments to improve telco sites across northern Tasmania and promised a further $6 million to support agriculture field shows, with a specific focus on promoting digital agriculture to enhance farmgate productivity.   

WEEK THREE

LABOR

N/A 

LIBERAL

Scott Morrison has pitched a $14 million crime control package for the Northern Terriroty (NT) if the Liberals are elected. This includes $600,000 for the installation of CCTV across Alice Springs.  

The Coalition is offering $28 million to fix mobile service blackspots at 66 locations across the country. The PM also announced a further $78.5 million from the Connecting Regional Australia initiative will be used to improve connectivity in urban fringe areas. 

WEEK TWO

LABOR

Anthony Albanese promises to make implementing a national integrity commission by the end of the year his first priority if Labor wins. Despite proposing the Commission in late 2018, Prime Minister Morrison did not introduce the relevant legislation (beyond tabling) and has not matched Albanese’s pledge to establish a national anti-corruption body by year’s end.  

Labor has announced several new health initiatives. The party promises $135 million to trial ‘urgent care clinics’, mirroring New Zealand health programs, and an additional $31 million to boost telehealth services. Labor has also released six key measures to fix and ‘restore trust’ in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The measures include: lifting staffing caps, increasing regional accessibility, and cutting unfair costs.  

LIBERAL

The Coalition has pledged to create 3,600 new jobs in WA by establishing two new development projects and two carbon capture and storage hubs. The party’s vision is to turn WA into a ‘global powerhouse’ for resources and energy. Prime Minister Morrison has made jobs and growth a key pillar of his campaign, previously pledging to create 1.3 million jobs over five years and maintain an unemployment rate below 4 per cent.

WEEK ONE

LABOR

Labor has unveiled the $650m Better Connectivity for Rural and Regional Australia. Initiatives under the plan include: 

  • A $400 million fund to improve rural mobile coverage;
  • $20 million for an independent audit of national mobile coverage;
  • $30 million for connected-machinery tech on farms;
  • $6 million for the Regional Tech Hub, and;
  • A further $200 million in grants for the Regional Connectivity Program if Labor wins the upcoming election. 

LIBERAL

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) will create a digital twin of Antarctica. The Federal Government allocated over $800m over ten years to developing the country's Antarctica program in the 2022-2023 Budget. The digital twin was among the key recommendations in the O'Kane review of the AAD Science Branch in November 2021.  

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