It is the final sitting week in Canberra before parliamentarians depart for the traditional five-week break that precedes the May Budget. We expect Katy Gallagher to convene the national Data and Digital Ministers Meeting during the recess, and welcome NSW’s new Minister for Digital and Customer Service Designate, Yasmin Catley.
Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten released the findings of Dr Ian Watt’s independent review of whistleblower allegations of impropriety in several ICT procurements at Services Australia. The investigation looked at 95 procurements and decided that 19 warrant further investigation, with an approximate value of $374 million, including the purchase of biometric and identity management systems.
Innovation Aus are reporting that Home Affairs are continuing to “seriously looking at data localisation” in the revised National Data Security Action Plan, which is being overhauled as part of the update to the national cyber strategy; and that Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has flagged a funding boost for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner in the May Budget. The office’s most recent initiative has been working with dating apps such as Hinge and Match to make it easier for users to report sexual assaults to law enforcement.
Lendlease has been named as the lead contractor to oversee the development of the secretive York Park National Security Office Precinct in Barton, which was revealed in the October Budget papers. Scheduled to open in 2025, the new offices will be home to 5,000 spies and analysts, and their cutting-edge gadgetry.
STATE BY STATE
We have done a sweep of the 2022-23 budget delivery dates:
- Federal, Tuesday 9 May 2023
- NT, Tuesday 9 May 2023
- NZ, Thursday 18 May 2023
- VIC, Tuesday 23 May 2023
- TAS, Thursday 25 May 2023
- SA, expected in May 2023
- WA, expected in May 2023
- NSW, expected in June 2023
- QLD, Tuesday 13 June 2023
- ACT, Tuesday 27 June 2023
In emerging tech news, the NT government has issued three grants totalling $224,000 to develop and utilise Earth observation satellite images and data: for bushfire assessment, pasture management, and urban planning.
The data breach at Australian financial services company Latitude that led to 100,000 driver licences being exposed to attackers has also shown up the digital divide between states and territories. Anyone affected by the attack in NSW, QLD, SA, WA and VIC can replace their licence online. ACT acknowledged the breach, but does not provide information on replacing licences (though this can be done online), and the same goesfor the Commonwealth Passport Office. Tasmanians are being directed to “visit any Service Tasmania shopfront”, and there’s word from the NT.
Consulting giant Accenture confirmed it will lay off 19,000 staff worldwide, 2.5% of its workforce, in response to a global slowdown in IT spending growth. Research and IT consulting firm Gartner forecast worldwide IT spending to total US$4.5 trillion in 2023, an increase of 2.4% from 2022, but less than half the rate previously estimated (5.1%) in October.
The rapid march of AI generated photo-realistic Deepfakes continues, with ‘Pope in a Puffer Jacket’ exploding across the internet this week, days after ‘Donald Trump being Arrested’ attracted millions of views. For those interested, the clever ‘word prompt image generating tool’ that created the puffer Pontif is called Midjourney.
In Norway, one of Europe's largest ammunition manufacturers, Nammo, is unable to meet Ukraine's increased demand because a nearby data centre is using the required electricity to store TikTok videos. Chief executive Morten Brandtzæg provided the press with this zinger: “We are concerned because we see our future growth is challenged by the storage of cat videos.”