Whole-of-government data strategy on its way


Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

The federal government will unveil its first data strategy in the coming weeks, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying it would bring “tangible benefits” to all Australians.

Addressing the Business Council of Australia’s annual general meeting on Wednesday, Mr Morrison said data and the health of the digital economy was a key pillar for Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the government would release an Australian Data Strategy as part of the Digital Economy Strategy, outlining how the government will enhance effective, safe and secure data use.

Scott Morrison
Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Image: Naresh777 / Shutterstock.com

This strategy would be released before the end of the year and run until 2025, Mr Morrison said, describing data is the “lifeblood of our digital future”.

“The Australian Data Strategy will seek to maximise data’s value, protect it to build trust, and enable its use to bring tangible benefits to the Australian people,” Mr Morrison said in the virtual address.

The data strategy was first announced as part of the federal government’s Digital Economy Strategy earlier this year. It explores how data can contribute to the digital economy, look at the government’s own use of data in delivering services and lay out how it will manage data as a critical asset.

The strategy will provide a framework for government settings to support the use, value, custodianship, sharing and security of public and private data, and commit agencies and departments to “building and enhancing data maturity, visibility and capability” in the public service.

Since announcing the strategy, the government has consulted with state, territory and local governments and with the private sector. The strategy will provide a “clear vision for maximising data-driven innovation across the economy” by improving access to data, data-sharing arrangement, data asset management and collaboration across the public and private sector.

The Prime Minister pointed to the recently announced joint venture between Telstra and Quantium on data and AI as an example of what the strategy will foster.

“Government can act as a powerful enabler. But what really matters is when great companies share our vision for Australia to be that leading economy, and under Andy Penn’s leadership, Telstra’s new joint venture with Quantium, to unlock the full potential of data and AI to provide more personalised products to its customers, is just one example of the practical realisation of this vision, and the business community working hand in glove with the strategy that we’ve set out,” Mr Morrison said.

In the virtual address, Mr Morrison said technology will play a prominent role in Australia’s digital economy.

“COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of business digitisation. We’ve also seen almost nine in ten Australian firms adopt new technologies. A third of Australian businesses expanded their online presence in the first three weeks of the pandemic. And we’ve seen the tech sector now grow at four times the rate of the rest of the economy,” he said.

“Every business in Australia is now a digital business and there’s no going back, and nor do we want to, given changing expectations about how we live and how we work, how we communicate and how we shop.”

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