Queensland Premier Anna Bligh provided her perspective on current and upcoming ICT trends in her state, flagging video gaming, simulation and virtual training and autonomous mining software as key technologies in her address to a combined Australian Computer Society (ACS) and Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) lunch on Thursday 22 July 2010. The Premier stated that her government’s role would be to grow, build and nurture these parts of the industry by “showcasing Queensland’s rising stars to the nation and the world”.
Speaking to an audience of approximately 800, Bligh emphasised the importance of ICT in the state’s economic recovery period, indicating a need for an increase in productivity growth through the use of ‘cutting-edge’ technology and suggesting that this places ICT “at the heart of Queensland’s economic development and strategy as we look over the next decade”.
Bligh also gave a succinct mention to the Queensland Health payroll issue, admitting that it would not be ‘credible’ for her to speak of ICT in the state without acknowledging this ‘catastrophe’. She emphasised the complexity of the technology while impliedly criticising the vendor and supplier contracted to implement the program. “As a client, we’re pretty unhappy...and you’d expect us to be” she said.
Bligh called the National Broadband Network (NBN) one of the “biggest and best opportunities we’ve had as a state to grow”, but did not comment any further on the practical implementation of the initiative.
Software Queensland (SQ) issued a statement shortly after the luncheon, expressing their disappointment at “the lack of vision and inspiration” provided in Bligh’s address. SQ Chair John Vickers argued that Bligh concentrated disproportionately on Queensland’s gaming division, which employs less than 1,000 of the state’s 70,000 IT workers and is “at best a boutique sector”. Mr Vickers accused the Premier of ignoring small-to-medium ICT businesses.
Joining the Premier’s critics was Longhaus Managing Director Peter Carr, who alleged that Bligh’s address focused on gaming at the expense of much more important sectors, such as Health and Shared Services. Carr told ZDnet that in relation to the Health payroll debacle the Queensland government was trying to construe itself “as a client which had had something awful done to it”, rather than acknowledge the role it had played in the failure.
However, the response to Bligh’s address was not wholly negative. National Chairman of the ACS Kumar Parakala and AIIA CEO Ian Birks both praised the speech, with Parakala going as far as to say Bligh’s presentation had ‘vision aplenty’.
The Queensland IT industry generates revenue of $23.6 billion per year and employs approximately 25,000 more individuals than the State’s mining industry.