With just under two months to go before New South Wales voters cast their ballot in the state’s March 23 election, the Labor Opposition has remained tight lipped on issues of innovation and digital service delivery.
While it might not be unusual for an Opposition to keep the full-breadth of a formal policy under wraps until the election campaign itself, shadow innovation minister Yasmin Catley has barely peeped.
Ms Catley has kept silent on some of the big ticket initiatives being driven by the Berejiklian government, including the Sydney Technology and Innovation Precinct – a redevelopment program for the Central to Eveleigh area on the CBD fringe that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, or more.
The building of the tech precinct would follow on from the $35 million the state government has already spent investing in the Sydney Startup Hub, another project Labor has been silent about.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian boldly proclaimed that this tech precinct would be “Australia’s Silicon Valley” and appointed Jobs for NSW chair David Thodey to lead a taskforce to investigate and report back in November.
You would think an Opposition might have something to say about it or demand more detail about an urban renewal project that has the potential to transform a large part of inner Sydney. Or even to make something of the fact that the government had missed its own deadline at the end of last year to announce a decision on the precinct. But no, NSW Labor has kept its views to itself.
The same has been true on the digital delivery of government services.
While it is certainly true that the NSW government has been a front-runner in building out its digital delivery capability – it has been the stand-out among all Australian governments – it is also true that this is a stubbornly difficult area. By its own metrics, the momentum in digital has slowed and the customer satisfaction data on digital services had plateaued.
Back in October, Ms Catley told InnovationAus.com that she believes that with a bit of fine tuning the NSW digital strategy had the potential to deliver citizens better services and cost savings, as well as address risk and improve compliance.
“The central concerns have been around transparency of digital service delivery, such as the concealment of certain fees and charges by the Minister as part of the CTP rebate scheme. This erodes public confidence in such programs,” she said at the time.
“Digital delivery is worth pursuing, but we need to ensure that it is delivered in a transparent manner to maintain consumer confidence.”
However, if Ms Catley wants to make any of her own improvements to the Berejiklian government’s existing digital strategy, the clock is ticking on how long the Opposition has left to win over voters with their mystery digital services and innovation policy.