ICT has become a focus of the Tasmanian election, with both Labor and the Liberals releasing detailed ICT policies.
Labor’s policy is titled ‘Technology to Drive Tasmania’s Future’ while the Liberals is named ‘Growing our Information and Communication Technology Industry’.
Tasmanians will go to the polls on March 15 2014 after Labor Premier Lara Giddings called an election on 17 January and disbanded a power sharing arrangement with the Tasmanian Greens.
Labor has been in power since 1998 and is tipped to lose in a landslide to the Liberal Party, led by Opposition Leader Will Hodgman, which is on track to achieve majority government with 50 percent support, according to the latest EMRS poll. This equates to 14 of the 25 seats in the House of Assembly.
Labor’s support stands at 23 percent whilst the Greens is at 17 percent, according to the poll.
Labor has proven to be a relatively ICT-conscious Government. David Bartlett, Premier from 2008-2011, had a career in the information technology industry and served as the Manager of the Tasmanian Innovation Centre prior to entering Parliament.
The 2013-14 State Budget saw the creation of a $28 million ICT project fund. The fund was established to provide capital funding for projects approved by the Tasmanian ICT Policy Board. Since then the Board has agreed to fund a Government Contact Centre, the Criminal Justice Information Program and a State Revenue system.
In the 2010 State election, both the Greens and Liberal Parties called for the creation of a specific ICT minister. This call has not been repeated in the lead up to the March election.
A report by the University of Tasmania released in 2010 found that over the period 1990-2009, the IT and Telecommunications Sector grew at 6.8 percent per annum, above the national average of 6.4 percent for the same period.
In light of this, it is not surprising the attention given to ICT in Tasmanian elections compared to other jurisdictions.
Despite neglecting to mention cloud technology in its policy, Labor has taken a number of steps towards implementing cloud systems in its term. Labor first introduced its intention to deploy cloud services in its 2011 ICT Strategy which stated “all common commodity ICT services will be consolidated and provided as a service to agencies” by 2017. Its first foray into cloud was marked by a contract with Anittel in September 2013 for infrastructure-as-a-service. Under the two year arrangement, agencies are charged per use rather than paying an up-front amount.
In December 2013, the ICT Policy Board “endorsed the recommended option of a panel of service providers with no in-house data centre facilities”. The panel of service providers was expected to be a compulsory Whole-of-Government panel for “the supply of services, including infrastructure-as-a-service (cloud) services”.
The Liberal’s ICT policy highlights the need for cloud services with on-shore hosting. It states, “To play our part, we will set a goal of moving whole-of-government data to the Tasmanian Cloud (secure, on-island data centres)”. If elected, the Liberals will establish a four-year goal of moving to ‘on island’ data-sovereignty with all public data to be stored within Tasmanian data-centres.
The Opposition aims to establish Tasmania as a data centre hub, a move which will also assist in the on-shore hosting of cloud data. The Liberals intend to create an Office of the Coordinator General in Launceston to act as a single point of contact for businesses interested in investing in Tasmania.
According to its policy, the Opposition will “task the new Coordinator General with attracting a Tier 3 data centre to Tasmania.” This will come hand-in-hand with the development of a Data Centre Action Strategy.
The Labor policy did not articulate a position on data centres.
The Labor ICT Policy endorses open-data. The Policy states, “Labor will direct each government agency to identify additional data sets with potential to be of value to the public and ask them to develop strategies to increase transparency.”
It notes that while agencies have made an effort to make data transparent, “there is more work to be done”.
Both parties intend to establish public Wi-Fi hotspots across the state. Labor’s Policy states that it will build 50 public Wi-Fi hotspots in both urban and rural communities. It has allocated $500,000 in new funding over 2014-16 for the deployment of the hotspots.
The Opposition has also pledged to invest $500,000 for set-up costs associated with public Wi-Fi hotspots. Its policy states that it will deliver a 60 percent contribution and also seek 40 percent from local tourism associations and Chambers of Commerce. The Liberals have estimated the cost of delivering Wi-Fi to a small town at “well below $10,000”.
Labor has estimated the total cost of its new technology initiatives to be $4.35 million over the next four years.
The Opposition has forecast its ICT initiatives to cost $1.225 million over the forward estimates.
For more information, please contact the Editor (02) 9955 9896.