We are in the home stretch – Summit Season is over, the World Cup has kicked off in Qatar, Schoolies has begun on the Gold Coast, and the US is celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday. We have reached the final sitting fortnight for the federal parliament in Canberra. The NSW parliament has already packed up, ACT and Tasmania finish up on Thursday (24th), and Queensland, SA, WA, and NT all sit next week. The Victorian election is this weekend. Only New Zealand still has another two weeks stretch to go.
The second last sitting week of the year in Canberra is usually ‘the calm before the storm’. Labor has confirmed it expects the senate to sit for extra days to pass its IR legislation – continuing the tiresome tradition of needlessly keeping everyone back for an ‘urgent’ matter.
The Attorney General will also be hoping to pass legislation to establish a National Anti Corruption Commission (NACC). A draft bill was introduced in late September and reviewed by a select committee, which reported earlier this month. The lengthy explanatory memorandum (EM) accompanying the bill notes that the new entity would be able to conduct "investigations into serious or systemic corrupt conduct relating to procurement or contract management processes.”
The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) inquiry into Commonwealth Procurement has received 11 submissions by last week's deadline. These include a mea culpa from the DTA, who acknowledge a need to improve their compliance with procurement frameworks. In September, the ANAO issued a damning examination of nine DTA procurements from 2019-21, identifying several shortcomings.
Outgoing NSW digital minister Victor Dominello has indicated he will push for an overhaul of Commonwealth laws to ensure cybersecurity researchers are not prosecuted for reporting potential bugs and vulnerabilities. The proposal should be well received - the former federal shadow cyber security minister Tim Watts repeatedly urged the previous government to encourage ‘bug bounties.’
We note that Treasurer Jim Chalmers has confirmed that he will not hand down a mid-year budget update (MYEFO) next month, for the first time in more than 25 years. So no last minute ICT funding, you’ll have to wait until May.
STATE BY STATE Opposition to scrap Service Victoria During a press conference a week out from the state election, Liberal party leader Matthew Guy has promised to replace the Service Victoria online portal with a new ConnectVic app, a “one-click-shop" for government services. The party has pledged $300 million to develop the new digital service, based on the Service NSW model, to bundle digital driver's licenses, Myki cards, concessions, and applications for various government grants and programs.
ACT Digital Health Record goes online; Check in App goes offline Last week the ACT released its long-awaited Digital Health Record, a multi-year overhaul that was expedited by pandemic pressures. Some 14,000 staff across the territory’s health system have been trained in the new system, with more than 8,000 logging on in the first week. The territory will also switch off its COVID-19 contact tracing app in December.
UK Bad News Budget The UK Autumn Update was as gloomy as expected, and met with newspaper headlines including ‘You’ve never had it so bad’ and ‘UK facing record fall in incomes.’ On the bright side, the Sunak Government remains committed to investing in Project Gigabit to expand national telco infrastructure coverage (“to reach at least 85% gigabit-capable broadband coverage by 2025 and nationwide coverage by 2030”) and supporting a series of ‘Digital Catapult’ innovation incubators. The Government Chief Scientific Adviser and National Technology Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance, of Covid fame, has been given responsibility for an emerging technologies regulatory taskforce.
Silicon Valley lay offs For those keeping count (and depending on how you count), Silicon valley has laid off more than 70,000 workers in 2022 (not including the staff leaving Twitter in droves). Surely South Australia could lure a few of them over.
NASA returns to the Moon For readers who stay to the end, we are delighted that NASA’s uncrewed Artemis 1 moon mission successfully launched last week, after (at least) three attempts were cancelled due to tropical storms and a fuel leak. The program has cost an estimated US$93 billion over 13 years (around AU$140 million in current Australian dollars).