With the election results in, Anthony Albanese’s Labor Party will now lead the federal government, following nine years of Coalition rule.
While Labor’s campaign policies were considerably less ICT-centric than the Coalition’s, there were nonetheless several big announcements that point towards direct public sector ICT implications. Alongside these were digital initiatives aimed at boosting the technology industry more broadly and other initiatives likely to have strong ICT components.
It remains unclear how many, if any, of the initiatives announced by the Coalition may be continued in some form by a Labor government, e.g. the announcement of a ‘digital skills passport’, smart device cyber security standards, expansion of the ‘birth-of-a-child’ pilot, and a multitude of AgTech announcements from the Nationals.
Below is a summary of Labor’s digital and ICT promises during the six-week campaign:
Regional broadband - $650 million
Initiatives under the Better Connectivity for Rural and Regional Australia plan include:
- $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.
Telehealth - $251 million
$220 million for the Strengthening Medicare GP Grants program would see investment in IT upgrades to support telehealth services.
The party promises $135 million to trial ‘urgent care clinics’, this includes $31 million in funding to provide greater access to psychiatric services via telehealth for regional and rural people.
Defence – $1.45 billion
Creation of an Australian Advanced Strategic Research Agency (ASRA), modelled on the long-running US DARPA program, responsible for innovations leading to the creation of the internet, personal computers and GPS alongside other ubiquitous technologies. ASRA will receive $1.2 billion in funding over ten years.
$250 million promises towards Veterans’ Affairs by Brendan O’Connor during a debate with then-Defence Minister Peter Dutton.
Australian Public Service - $3 billion (savings)
Promised $3 billion in cuts to consultants to the APS alongside a review into outsourcing within the APS.
Services Australia will receive particular attention under likely new minister Bill Shorten, promises include: A Robodebt Royal Commission, a “user audit” of myGov platform, guarantees of storing user data in Australia and 200 extra staff at Services Australia.
Industry support - $2 billion
As part of the broader $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund pledged throughout the election as part of its ‘future made in Australia’ platform, this includes:
$1 billion for a Critical Technologies Fund to expand capability in areas such as AI, robotics and quantum computing.
$1 billion towards the Advanced Manufacturing Fund which will cover manufacturing capacity which could have digital implications in diverse sectors such as transport, defence, resources, agriculture, and medical sciences.
A promise to create 1.2 million ‘new’ tech jobs by 2030, a plan endorsed by the Tech Council of Australia, has received attention and support from the ICT industry.