This week’s newsletter includes a preview of the Queensland budget, new steps to regulate generative AI in both Australia and the EU, developments in undersea cable cooperation (but not across the Bass strait), and another parliamentary inquiry into the use of consultants. We remind our readers that in addition to the release of both the QLD and SA budgets, Intermedium’s 2023 Digital Government Readiness and Maturity Index (DGRMI) will also be released next week.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese delivered the keynote address at this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. The unusually lengthy and wide-ranging speech included a defence of Australia’s investments in new military technologies and a reminder that former PM Turnbull addressed the forum in 2017 calling on the region to unite against the ‘emerging threat’ of cybercrime.
In interesting news from Senate Estimates, Services Australia has confirmed that it is sharing Israeli spyware Cellebrite with other agencies investigating suspected fraud. Intermedium’s market analytics database shows that Cellebrite is doing good business with the AFP, Defence, Home Affairs, and ACIC.
The ANAO has once again delayed the release of its investigation into the Morrison Government’s procurement of the permissions capability platform. It is now scheduled to be tabled in parliament later today, Wednesday 7 June.
STATE BY STATE
The fallout from the PwC scandal rolls on, with the NSW parliament’s Public Accountability and Works Committee launching a year-long inquiry into the state’s use of consulting firms. Its remit includes looking at procurement policies, the use of 'consultant shopping,' and a range of accountability measures.
There was another outage on one of the three Bass Strait fibre optic cables linking Melbourne to Tasmania over the weekend, with local consumer advocacy group Digital Tasmania complaining that it “is becoming almost a weekly occurrence.” The group reiterated longstanding calls to invest in a fourth line. The oldest of the current Bass Strait cables is almost 30 years old.
The WA government is adding an ICT stream to its existing public sector graduate program. Minister Stephen Dawson is aiming to recruit up to 40 students into data science, analytics and cyber security roles. The 2023-24 state budget included $1.3 million over four years to develop the program.
After a four-year hiatus, the 3000km Darwin to Adelaide World Solar (vehicle) Challenge is set to return to the Outback in October. The event is expected to attract around 1,000 researchers across 43 teams from 23 countries. The NT government is already using the event to attempt to recruit both tech companies and talent to the Top End.
It’s not just Tasmania’s sub-sea connections at risk.
There have been several international cooperation agreements on undersea cable security this month, including a pact between the UK and Norway to increase monitoring across the North Sea, and a new Quad (Australia, India, Japan and the US) Partnership for Cable Connectivity and Resilience. Against this backdrop, the Micronesian island of Palau has expressed concern about a Chinese research vessel snooping around its undersea fiber optic cables.
The European Commission is working on a voluntary AI code of conduct intended to help steer the rapidly expanding industry while the EU’s new AI Act meanders its way through the Brussell’s legislative process.
Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC23) kicks off in Cupertino this week with CEO Tim Cook revealing Apple Vision Pro, an augmented related (AR) offering that looks like a fancy pair of ski goggles, to kick off the “era of spatial computing.”
As last week’s newsletter was landing in your inboxes (May 31), NASA was livestreaming a historic public meeting of its UFO "independent study group". The group was formed in June 2022 to examine data related to unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP), a term that encompasses unexplained objects or occurrences in the sky, underwater or in space.