Australia’s e-government rank falls to decade low

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Australia has slipped to seventh in the United Nations global ranking of ‘e-governments’, its worst position in a decade. New Zealand and several Scandinavian countries are now ahead of Australia after being ranked second in the world by the UN just four years ago.

Australia is still among the leading group of e-government nations, and considered the best on human capital, according to the latest biannual UN e-government survey released this week, but is heading in the wrong direction.

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Australia remains a top performer on e-government, but has again slipped down the global ranks

In 2014, 2016 and 2018 Australia was second in the world, despite several high-profile technology failures like 2016 census, ATO outages and robodebt.

In 2020 the UN dropped Australia to fifth. Now the nation has slipped to seventh.

The ranking is based on a combination of primary data collected and owned by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and secondary data from other UN agencies.

It considers countries’ use of information and communications technologies to deliver public services, including the quality of online services, status of telecommunication infrastructure, and existing human capacity to produce an overall E-Government Development Index (EGDI).

The the EGDI assessment of e-government performance of 193 United Nations member countries is relative to one another, as opposed to being an absolute measurement.

Australia’s EGDI went backwards over the last two years, dropping the country to seventh in the global rankings. The six countries ahead, from first on, are Denmark, Finland, Republic of Korea New Zealand, Sweden, Iceland.

Australia is still ahead of traditional e-government leader Estonia, and allies the US and UK, and far ahead of the global average.

Australia was considered a standout on the UN’s measure of human capital, a literacy ranking based on education enrolments and years of schooling. The nation received the highest ranking among all UN member countries.

But Australia was only a middling performer among the top group on the online service index, which considers a country’s online presence, whole-of-government approaches, open government data, e-participation, multi-channel service delivery, mobile services, usage uptake and digital divides.

Among the top group of 15 nations, Australia ranked second worst for the UN’s measure of telecommunications infrastructure.

When ranked as high as second overall in 2018, the then-Coalition government took some of the credit and said it was determined to keep Australia at the forefront of a global digital government revolution. Australia has been falling ever since.

Earlier this week, the IMD Business School elevated Australia in its global Digital Competitiveness ranking to 14th overall and fifth on its measure of e-government.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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