Innes Willox – Chief Executive Australian Industry Group
Firstly, with regard to the rollout of the National Broadband Network
(NBN), the political debate on how it will be delivered is now well
and truly behind us. The NBN will be a key enabler for increasing
productivity, innovation and the use of more advanced technology.
The benefits that flow will be immense.
But as we found in 2013, and still hear from business members today,
the NBN rollout is not reaching regional areas and industrial estates
as quickly as hoped for. For these businesses as well as residential
customers, slow delivery of the NBN is creating a disadvantage,
leading to a growing digital divide between those who have the NBN
(or at least some form of broadband) and those who do not.
This is something we hope to work with the Government in addressing,
including through a holistic and co-ordinated approach to broader
policy issues that are arising from a digitally enabled economy. For
example, by addressing business readiness and future workforce and
Secondly, you can’t talk to a business without the question of red tape
being raised. The Government is making some progress in battling
red and green tape, such as through its Red Tape Repeal Days. For
businesses, an area that could be improved upon is streamlining the
provision of data to Government – something the Government is
trying to address as part of its deregulation agenda. In fact, Ai Group
has been contacted by a number of different Government agencies
with similar questions about ways in which they can promote this level
Broader policy issues of interest to our members include what the
future digital workforce should look like. In an environment where
technology is rapidly changing the way businesses operate (as well as
society as a whole), there are questions about businesses’ readiness
to embrace that change, but also about the future workforce. And
that relates to issues such as identifying the necessary skills required
in the immediate term (ICT skills) and long term (STEM skills).
From a Government perspective, this affects a number of different
portfolios, including Communications, Industry and Science, Small
Business, Education and Training, Employment, Immigration (457
visas), and Prime Minister and Cabinet (cyber security issues). So it is
a very broad agenda.
Finally, there is the issue of how Australia can lift its digital
competitiveness so that our businesses remain competitive and
sustainable in a more globalised economy.
This year’s World Economic Forum Global Digital Competitiveness
Report – which Ai Group contributed to as a Partner Institute – found
that Australian businesses’ ability to use ICT to boost competitiveness
improved from 18th place to 16th place in the world. But while this
improvement is welcome, it also reminds us of our fall from 9th place
Areas that were identified as in need of improvement included laws
relating to ICT, fixed broadband internet affordability, skills (quality of
the education system, maths and science education), capacity to
innovate, and extent of staff training.
With a digitised economy that is becoming more globalised, these
different areas of shortcoming highlight a need for improvement in
order for Australian businesses to remain competitive and sustainable.
This is just a snapshot of the issues of importance to our members
that will be a core part of a Digital Policy Priorities Statement that we
Building our digital future
There are a number of issues in the digital space that Ai Group members consistently raise with me.
are currently preparing. This will form the basis of our engagement
with government in the months and years ahead.
Relevant to these priorities, the borderless nature of the Digital
Economy means that no one country or industry can develop policies
in isolation. To this end, Ai Group has used its membership of the B20
Coalition to develop a multilateral approach to ensure that the focus
remains on the possibilities rather than the feared problems. Just this
month we have released a discussion paper, Digital Economy - The
Driver for Growth, which was developed by the B20 Coalition.
We also launched a Leadership Policy report at Parliament House in
June. From a digital perspective, leaders need to take charge and
be prepared to increase their efforts to integrate digital technologies
into their day-to-day operating environment. They also need to
consider innovative ways to make better use of and invest in digital
technologies to maximise their benefits.
This will form part of a major conference we will be presenting in
September. ‘The Leadership Revolution’ will feature a program of
acclaimed international speakers, many of whom are global leaders
in business strategy, innovation and also manufacturing technologies(www.leadershiprevolution.com.au)
I hope to see many of you there.
“Leaders need to take charge
and be prepared to increase
their efforts to integrate digital
technologies into their day-to-day
operating environment. They also
need to consider innovative ways
to make better use of and invest
in digital technologies to maximise