Fifield: Digital is not negotiable

James Riley
Editorial Director

Digital transformation for both government and business is not negotiable, according to newly-appointed Communications Minister Mitch Fifield.

In his opening keynote address to the Telstra Digital Summit in Sydney, Senator Fifield said if Australia is to remain a prosperous economy with all the associated benefits for our citizens, then it needs to be more competitive, more productive and more innovative.

Nothing really new there, given the consistent message coming from all of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s new cabinet since the change in leadership over a month ago. Innovation and technology have been buzzwords across the country ever since.

Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield addressing the Telstra Digital Summit

What Senator Fifield did inspire though, was some clarity around the opportunities for business of all sizes to partner with government, especially those companies who may not normally do so given the restrictive procurement costs.

“We need to leverage tech expertise from outside government and partner them with the DTO and other agencies,” Senator Fifield said.

“There are hundreds of innovative tech businesses – startups and SMEs right across Australia – that would not normally partner with government due to prohibitive procurement costs,” he said.

“Our aim is to make it easier and less costly for companies of all sizes to partner with government – this is critical if we’re to innovate our own use of IT in the Australian government, and essential if we’re to deliver services that are simpler and easier to use.”

It’s no secret that this government has been looking to the private sector for ideas and guidance, Senator Fifield said, and these would become crucial collaborations into the future.

“We’ve been unashamed about seeking influence from the private sector in the way we go about digital transformation and as we work toward becoming the leading digital economy in the world,” he said.

“We know there is a global demand for talented digital specialists, and this remains true in Australia. We’ll need skills and expertise from both within the public and private sectors to meet this demand and to ensure Australia can capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead.”

“That’s why our close collaboration and partnerships with the business sector are going to be absolutely critical,” he said.

Senator Fifield was addressing the 1,100 strong crowd at The Star event centre in Sydney in what is now the fourth year of the Summit.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn had earlier outlined a massive shift to mobile, cloud virtualisation, and machine learning and artificial intelligence as the three major areas of innovation to watch.

“There’s everyone from CEO’s of publicly listed companies to students, startups and entrepreneurs in the room,” Telstra Director of Digital Monty Hamilton told

“This is not an industry event, it’s a digital vertical event and it’s accessible to everyone.”

Mr Hamilton estimated that about half of the room were executives from small to medium enterprises.

The Summit also featured Keynotes from Kathryn Parsons of Decoded and David Rohrsheim, General Manager for Uber Australia and New Zealand.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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