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In other government ICT and digital news, 04 April 2023

by Cameron Sinclair •
Free resource

The first week of the pre-budget recess has been surprisingly busy. The full NSW Cabinet has been announced, with Jihad Dib a surprise pick to replace Victor Dominello as digital minister and Yasmin Catley tasked to get on top of the state’s 28-year-old policing systems. The federal government has released its first ICT-specific funding for the 2023-24 budget, and signalled reforms to small business procurement are on the horizon, a review of regional mobile coverage, and a renewed focus on combatting scams. 


The first ICT-specific initiative for the 2023-24 budget has been revealed, with the National Library of Australia to get $33 million over four years, with an emphasis on ensuring the continuation of the Trove database. For the curious, the database was initially known as the Single Business Discovery Service, until the name Trove was suggested by a staff member. We expect to see further funding announcements trickling out over the next five weeks. 

Legislation to establish the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) passed the parliament, with responsible minister Ed Husic lauding it as “the greatest investment in manufacturing capabilities in living memory.” The government’s first priority will be appointing a board and finalising the investment mandate. 

Some potentially good news for the ICT labour hire sector (and cyber security in particular), the government has introduced a draft bill to entrust ASIO with undertaking all ‘highest level’ security clearances , including those relating to the Commonwealth’s Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF). Labor had previously warned that vetting delays could jeopardise the implementation of the REDSPICE cyber security program. 

Commonwealth Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has banned the use of TikTok on government devices, declaring that “exemptions will only be granted on a case-by-case basis and with appropriate security mitigations in place." 

He has also appointed the new National Anti-Corruption Commissioners (NACC) to five-year terms. The new ‘federal ICAC’ will be led by former judge and war crimes investigator Paul Brereton and was allocated $27.5 million to build a ‘secure and independent ICT environment’ in the October Budget update. 

The ANAO investigation into Home Affairs procurement of the controversial Permissions Platform is now a month overdue. The assessment of whether the project achieved value for money and was consistent with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules was due to be tabled in February. 

Perhaps prompted by frustration with a series of underwhelming investigations, the ANAO has issued a short paper with ‘8 lessons’ for effective procurement: 

  • Use appropriate expertise 
  • Begin planning early 
  • Be transparent about decision-making 
  • Use competition to achieve value for money 
  • Assess the options and demonstrate value for money 
  • Act ethically 
  • Monitor contractor performance 
  • Keep good records and report accurately 

The senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee is conducting an inquiry into the ailing Freedom of Information (FOI) system. This is particularly good news for government researchers forced to use the system after repeated attempts get a straight answer about the (lack of) progress on matters before the Data and Digital Ministers Meetings. Leo Hardiman resigned from his role as FOI Commissioner in February, citing a lack of powers to clear the current backlog of reviews. 

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is already promoting this year’s #PrivacyAwarenessWeek, from 1 to 7 May. We encourage readers to check out the retro website. 

ICYMI, you can now add a digital version of your Medicare card to your myGov app. 


Former school principal Jihad Dib has been named NSW’s new Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government. Other incoming ministers with significant digital and data responsibilities include Yasmin Catley (Police), Ryan Park (Health), Paul Scully (Planning), Michael Daley (Justice), and Anoulack Chanthivong (Better Regulation and Industry, Science and Technology). 

The Tasmanian government has revealed that it was the victim of the GoAnywhere data breach. The vulnerability of the third-party managed file transfer (MFT) service was first identified in February. Minister for Science and Technology Madeleine Ogilvie confirms the potential breach has been reported to police and the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC). 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has warned that the state’s upcoming budget will be ‘challenging,’ with net debt reaching $100 billion for the first time at the end of 2022. Treasury and Finance Secretary David Martine has written to department heads asking them to detail plans to cut 10% from their budgets, which the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) estimates could equate to the loss of as many as 5000 jobs. The union has urged the government to slash the $177 million spent on consultants in the last financial year. 


French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has proposed legislation to require social media influencers to clarify whether photos have been retouched or filtered. Any persons using their notoriety (“leur notoriété”) for economic benefit (above a designated threshold) who fail to comply with the new ‘zero tolerance’ approach could be sent to jail for two years and face a fine up to AU$48,495 (€30,000). The proposed law is part of a wider crackdown on influencers promoting cosmetic surgery, cryptocurrency, and gambling.  

Midjourney AI image generator will allow users to make satirical images of Biden, Putin, and other leaders, but CEO David Holz has made it clear that he is willing to exempt Xi Jinping from the tool’s capabilities to ensure that it remains viable in China. Meanwhile, in the finest tradition of guerrilla art and inverting stereotypes, users have AI-generated several current and former members of the governing UK Conservative party into a variety of ‘insecure’ roles. 

NASA has named the four astronauts to crew the Artemis II mission to circle the moon in 2024, the first human moon lunar mission since the 1972 Apollo program. The US trio of Christina Koch, Victor Glover and Reid Wiseman will be joined by Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen.

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