Andrews drives new ministerial tech council


James Riley
Editorial Director

Industry minister Karen Andrews has drawn together a new council of state and territory digital economy and technology ministers to help drive national policy in the post-COVID environment.

The first meeting of Digital Economy and Technology ministers was held on Friday via video conference.

The meeting aimed squarely at building Australian capability across the digital economy and to build of the momentum created in digital adoption in the workplace that has occurred during the early stages of the COVID-19 economic shutdown.

Karen Andrews
Karen Andrews has pulled together industry ministers for a post-COVID push

The meeting of digital economy and technology ministers is not an official council under the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) framework, but has been driven by Karen Andrews to drive productivity and capability improvements in the digital economy.

The meeting was attended by ministerial representatives of all states and territories, including NSW Services Minister Victor Dominello, Victorian innovation Minister Martin Pakula, Queensland Innovation Minister Kate Jones, SA Innovation Minister David Pisoni and WA’s Innovation Minister Dave Kelly.

Also attending the meeting was Gabrielle Upton, a parliamentary secretary to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian who is working on a policy program aimed at accelerating the state’s R&D outcomes, as well as the deputy chair of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission David Thodey and Innovation and Science Australia chair Andrew Stevens.

The minister have agreed to meet at least three times a year, and agreed to establish a Digital Economy and Technology Senior Officials Group to promote more connected digital economy and technology policies across the Commonwealth, State, and Territory governments.

The senior officials will map the digital economy policies and business support services needed to accelerate the digitisation and resilience of businesses in response to COVID-19.

The ministerial communique from the meeting said that prior research demonstrated that the use of digital tools saved small businesses time and money, and that Australia’s recovery and future economy relies on our collective ability to capture and sustain this step change.

“Many businesses have, by necessity, had to use technology to transform day-to-day operations and pivot to different business models. The experience has revealed new possibilities of doing things differently. Concerted, collaborative efforts are required to support business to sustain potential gains from digital adoption,” the communique said.

The senior officials group has also been directed to complete and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Autonomous Systems Capability Map to highlight the areas of strength and expertise to drive greater collaboration domestically, and inform the promotion of Australia as key location for research and development, and commercialisation in these areas.

The senior officials would also work together on promoting pathways for digital and cyber security jobs, and identify technology led deregulation projects to support the growth of Australia’s digital economy and help reduce the compliance burden on business.

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