The state election is only weeks away on 26 March 2011 and it’s now time to take a look at the policy positions of the major parties and their potential impacts on NSW Government ICT procurement.
With opinion polls pointing to a change of Government, Intermedium last week canvassed the ICT-based policy positions of the NSW Liberal Nationals.
This week Intermedium reviews the information technology positions of the NSW Labor party, who have steered the government-ICT relationship over the last decade and allocated $882.90 million to IT-based initiatives in the 2010-11 Budget.
An analysis of the recently announced Labor initiatives and previously policy commitments will provide an indication of the shape of the ICT landscape should the incumbent government be re-elected.
Broadband and the NBN
The ALP has previously committed to strengthening broadband infrastructure in NSW, with the announcement of the Community Broadband Development Program and support of the Federal government’s National Broadband Network (NBN).
The Community Broadband Development Program, announced on 18 February 2011, will provide broadband access to regional communities. The project, which has been underway for over a year, is supported by $11.6 million in funding.
Minister for Rural Affairs, Steve Whan, said of the initiative: ‘increasing broadband access in regional communities is essential to ensuring those communities don’t fall behind...[and] making sure they have the tools to compete in a digital era’
Labor has also previously indicated their commitment to the Gillard government’s NBN, with then-Premier Nathan Rees establishing a taskforce to accelerate the rollout in NSW in 2009.
Innovative use of IT
NSW Labor has indicated a willingness to utilise innovative information technology in a variety of policy areas, including education, health, police and security and transport.
According to their education policy platform, Labor is progressively rolling out laptops for all high school teachers, installing new interactive whiteboards and connecting every school to high speed broadband ahead of the full implementation of the NBN.
In line with the nation’s move to e-health technology, the ALP also committed $115 million over five years for the development of an electronic medical record system in mid-2010. ‘Improved communication is seen as one of the key actions needed to improve patient safety, and this initiative goes to the heart of this’, Minister for Health Carmel Tebbutt said of the program.
Policy innovation in the police and security arena has involved information technology, with the recent unveiling of the 3D Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS). The $1.2 million IBIS system, which allows police to solve gun-related crimes, creates an electronic database of bullets and cartridge cases collected from crime scenes or from seized firearms.
One of the more publicised elements of Labor’s use of ICT is their announcement that, if re-elected, they would introduce free Wi-Fi on public transport for all Sydney commuters. The NSW ALP has also recently unveiled their text message service for bus passengers, informing them of when their bus is due to arrive. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Opposition Transport spokeswoman Gladys Berejiklian ‘welcomed’ the plan, suggesting that a similar initiative may take place under a Liberal government.
As Intermedium previously reported, the NSW Government announced on 21 February 2011 that they would be revising their Procure IT contracting framework to create a more ‘supplier friendly’ (especially for small to medium enterprises) model. The revision featured several components, including capping liability, allowing vendors to retain their intellectual property rights and removing the ‘best price’ clause.
Intermedium’s Managing Director Judy Hurditch believes that these reforms will be unaffected by the likely Coalition victory in the NSW election, due to their ‘apolitical’ quality.
The NSW ALP’s Minister for Commerce Paul Lynch has indicated to ZDNet Australia that a comprehensive ICT policy platform will be released in the next two weeks.