Leading up to the NSW state election, Intermedium has published outlines of the ICT-based policy platforms of the Labor and Liberal parties. It is now time to turn to an analysis of the NSW Greens’ ICT policy position, which could impact the state’s information technology landscape with the party’s influence seemingly on the rise.
Greens NSW MP John Kaye has said the party is eager to take advantage of the opportunities the ICT industry has to offer, and will be actively pursuing an innovative information technology agenda.
‘The Greens recognise the extraordinary potential for ICT to provide sustainable growth in employment and other social, economic and environmental benefits’, he said.
‘State governments can play a significant role in realising that potential if they are willing to use both legislation and the public sector’s purchasing power to secure NSW as a leader in developing and adopting new technologies’
A policy document provided by Mr. Kaye, Greens ICT Policy: Creating More Opportunities for Local Suppliers in NSW’s e-future, outlines three major areas of IT policy reform which will be pursued by the party:
- Proactive support for the National Broadband Network (NBN);
- Reform of government ICT purchasing; and
- Legislation requiring compulsory online publishing of documents relating to development applications.
Support for the NBN
As the first pillar of the Greens’ IT platform, Mr. Kaye believes that providing support to the Gillard government’s NBN at a state level will encourage the social, environmental and employment opportunities deriving from the project.
‘The Liberal/National party Coalition has been hostile to the NBN at both the state and federal levels. This bodes badly for NSW and the massive economic, environmental and social opportunities that fibre-to-the-premises offers in health, education, tele-working, aged care, entertainment and software development’, he said.
According to Mr. Kaye, the Greens will actively work to prevent any ‘roadblocks’ that an O’Farrell Government may put in place to frustrate the rollout of the NBN.
Reform of government ICT purchasing
The Greens will seek amendments to the procurement process to provide greater advantage to smaller, local suppliers and focus on open-standards and open-source components.
Mr. Kaye remarked on a number of troubled the NSW public sector’s software projects, such as the T-Card, RTA DRIVES system and NSW Health’s Cerner FirstNet system, describing them as ‘infamous’ for their ‘spectacular failures, cost over-runs and delays’. These failures, according to the Greens, occurred due to the large size of the contracts and the awarding of the responsibility for the projects to a small number of overseas companies.
The answer, Mr. Kaye said, is smaller, open-source deals and providing more opportunities for local suppliers.
‘We believe that the economies of scale from larger software projects are now being defeated by the lack of market depth among suppliers and by the extent of the impacts of suboptimal outcomes’
‘The Coalition would make this matter worse by allowing suppliers to retain ownership of intellectual property developed under government contracts. This would extend supplier lock-ins’
Moving development assessment online
The final element of the NSW Greens’ IT election platform will be reform of development assessment documentation.
Under the Greens’ policy, local councils, the Department of Planning and the Land and Environment Court would be required to transition from a predominantly paper-based plans and documents system to an online, searchable database, allowing for greater public involvement and accountability.