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In other government ICT and digital news, 5 July 2023

by Cameron Sinclair •
Free resource


The NSW parliament launches an inquiry into puritanical generative AI bots, US military top brass issues a warning about the imminent rise of robotic wars, the ABS seeks a partner to deliver the 2026 online census, and procurement corruption is back in the news.


The 2023-24 financial year has begun, alongside several initiatives and deadlines:

  • The release of the Digital Atlas of Australia beta on 30 June;
  • both the new National Anti-Scam Centre (inside the ACCC) and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) officially came into existence on 1 July;
  • Brendan Dowling began his term as Australia's Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology on Monday; and
  • the Robodebt Royal Commission is scheduled to release its report this coming Friday, 7 July.

The NACC received more than 40 referrals on its first day and we suspect that this number includes former Liberal MP Stuart Robert. Further allegations emerged last week that he was set to receive kickbacks for helping a friend’s consulting firm win government contracts; which Services Australia has subsequently referred to PMC.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has issued a tender to provide the digital service for the 2026 Census for an initial period of three years, with the option for further extensions of up to three years.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is pushing for ICT staff in the public service to have a dedicated employment classification. The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has previously rejected the proposal, but Deputy Commissioner Peter Riordan has indicated that they are willing to revisit their position.

The CSIRO Robotics team in Brisbane has taught one of those terrifying Boston Dynamics quadrupeds how to open doors.


The NSW Upper House is launching an inquiry into AI at the behest of the Legalise Cannabis Party, who are  frustrated that posts containing their name or marijuana leaf logo are being removed from social media by AI censors. Submissions close 20 October.

The WA government has announced e-waste grant recipients, with $6.5 million distributed to 21 projects, including new photovoltaic recycling facilities, shredders, and degaussers (magnetic data wiping).


New Zealand hosted the annual Five Country Ministerial (FCM) meeting last week, with Australia’s Clare O’Neil joining her home affairs, security, and immigration counterparts from Canada, New Zealand, the UK and USA. The meeting communique shows that discussions were very focused on technology, with an emphasis on foreign interference (specifically technology theft), cybersecurity, technology-enabled crime, online exploitation, and critical infrastructure resilience.

In what may be a market signal for those monitoring Australia’s Simplified Trade System (STS) taskforce, the UK has engaged Deloitte to build its £180 million post-Brexit Single Trade Window (STW) project. Singapore, Sweden, the USA and New Zealand already have a STW in place. The 2022-23 Australian federal budget allocated $26.9 million to develop a ‘second pass’ business case for a ‘tell us once’ trade system. Replacing Australia’s Integrated Cargo System (ICS) is estimated to be a ‘7-10’ year project.

In an address to the US National Press Club, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley has warned of a rapid expansion in the use of unmanned aerial, maritime, and ground vehicles over the next 10-15 years. Milley predicts that at least third of the world’s advanced industrial militaries will be robotic – “a pilotless Air Force, or a sailor-less Navy, or crew-less tank.”

The UK Cabinet Office has published formal guidance banning civil servants from using generative AI tools to write policy papers or other formal documents. In related news, for those that recall the bumbling New York lawyers caught using ChatGPT to present bogus judicial decisions to the court, you can read their sanctions judgement here (TL/DR: a $5,000 fine and some letter-writing).


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