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JULY 2015



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

skills shortages.

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

of deregulation.

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

in 2004.

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



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

their benefits.”