Election Monitor: Victorian Labor and Libs promise diverse ICT opportunities


Election season is coming. Citizens of Victoria and NSW will be going to the polls in November 2018 and March 2019, while the rest of the country waits expectantly following the Liberal party’s October loss in the Wentworth by-election and calls from members within the party for an early vote.

Over the next few months Intermedium will look at each of the major parties’ election commitments in each voting jurisdiction, and their implications for ICT procurement and investment.

In Victoria, both the Labor Party and the Liberals/Nationals Coalition offer plans with ICT implications in the leadup to the November 24 state election. Labor, as the current incumbent, offers a more comprehensive blueprint for a digital future focusing on innovation, small business digital competence, and procurement reform, while the opposition has prioritised electorally popular policies including increased monitoring of sex offenders.

Recent polling from Newspoll shows that Premier Daniel Andrews’ Labor government enjoys a comfortable lead over the Coalition at 54 points to 46 on a two-party preferred basis.

Labor

The Victorian Labor Party’s 2018 platform prioritises improved integration of technology in classrooms, and digitisation of government services to increase accessibility for all Victorians. The party will look to industry partners to help “drive technology infrastructure availability” through leveraging existing state technology infrastructure.

Since 2016, the Victorian Government has rolled out Australia’s largest free public WiFi network, VicFreeWiFi, with over 1,000 Wireless Access Points (WAPs) in the capital Melbourne and major regional centres including Bendigo and Ballarat.

The government has additionally announced a new Victorian Digital Asset Strategy (VDAS), a program integrating the digital sources of information underpinning Victoria’s infrastructure projects and assets. This project will be implemented across all agencies during 2019, and promises to help “build the infrastructure we need in a smarter, quicker, and often cheaper way,” according to Treasurer Tim Pallas.

Streamlining procurement practices to assist small business is also a concern. The government will continue exploring innovative procurement procedures, including electronic auctions, to reduce cost and red-tape for both vendors and government agencies, while granting preferential treatment to companies that deliver “social and sustainable outcomes for all Victorians”. In April, the Labor government rolled out a new social enterprise procurement model that gave a competitive edge to companies using social enterprises in government tenders. Finance Minister Robin Scott said that this procurement model “gives social value for Victorians while delivering valuable services and infrastructure for Victoria.”

Labor’s platform also prioritises sponsorship for across-the-board improvements in small business digital competencies. In October, Labor announced the creation of a new innovation hub at Federation University in Ballarat, called Runway Ballarat. $4.3 million in state funding has been earmarked by the Andrews Government for the new space which will house digital specialists, technology designers, researchers and students in one central location.

The Coalition

The Victorian Liberal party, headed by Matthew Guy, has advanced a 100 “positive policies” platform, with several policies including bail reforms, a Public Sex Offender Registry, and a “Right to Know” family violence disclosure scheme.

Victoria, like other states including Western Australia and Queensland, has its own independent sex offender’s register, obliging convicted offenders to report details including their address, name(s), online usernames, employment details, and vehicle information to police.

The Liberals’ Victorian Serious Sex Offenders Public Register seeks to facilitate the disclosure of certain details of adult serious sex offenders, including photographs, identifying descriptors and the current area where they live. Under the current legislation, access to the database is tightly restricted, requiring police authorisation to access, while information released is de-identified. The Liberal Party’s Victorian Serious Sex Offenders Public Register seeks to make information about sex offenders more publicly accessible.

Members of the public would be able to submit a request to police about offenders living in their local area. According to Liberal Party leader Matthew Guy, “Victorians deserve to know if they have a high-risk serial sex offender living in their street.”

The Victorian Liberal Party’s policy is similar to legislation already enacted in Western Australia, which allows members of the public to access information about convicted sex offenders, including their photographs and other information, on an online database.

The Victorian Liberals have also pledged the creation of a “Right to Know” family violence disclosure scheme. Under this scheme, interested third parties with an existing relationship to a person at risk of intimate partner violence (IPV) can request information from the police as to the intimate partner’s criminal history, including previous breaches of Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs).

Monitoring sexual offenders and those who commit other violent crimes has been an increasing focus of governments on both sides of parliament in multiple jurisdictions, with millions of dollars invested in new technologies that will keep tabs of convicted abusers, as well as other criminals.

In Queensland, for example, $13.7 million was allocated in 2011 to new GPS tracking devices. Similarly, the Northern Territory pledged $1 million towards electronic monitoring of youth offenders on bail in the community.

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