It’s been a very busy year for the IT industry in Australia, with a number of significant developments during the past 12 months.
We now know that we will have a federal election on 18 May. In our next newsletter, we will look at the tech policies of the major parties — where they vary, where they’re largely aligned, and provide some feedback on those policies. Today, though, we’re going to keep looking backwards at history a little.
There are two issues that I’d like to provide a quick update on today — the nbn, and the Assistance and Access Bill (2018). As you’re aware, ITPA has spoken strongly on the nbn in the past. We absolutely support the notion that a national broadband network built to deliver access for the nation is a positive concept. It not only allows us to compete on an international stage, but also to deliver critical services and capabilities domestically in an equitable fashion between city and country areas that never would have occurred had the job been left to the private sector. Indeed, some of the arguments against the nbn have been that no private sector company would build such a network due to the risk and lengthy ROI projections attached to it — which is precisely why it needed to …
I was recently asked (on Twitter, but that part really isn’t that important), while discussing the Assistance and Access Bill (I’ve written about that particular topic a few times here already), why someone would join ITPA as a financial member. What does a member get back in return for $165 each year (roughly the annual cost of a takeaway coffee per week)?
Hi all, and welcome to 2019! For many of us a new year is an opportunity to start afresh — to set goals, and set ourselves on a plan to achieving them. For others, it’s a continuation of the year before — following up on items that weren’t able, for whatever reason, to be finalised in the previous year. For ITPA this year, it’s a bit of both.
2018 has been a big year, and quite a mixed bag. We got a new national Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, which was a step forward in ensuring that if an organisation collected and then lost control of your information, they had to tell you about it. The 457 visa scheme was replaced with a ‘Temporary Skills Shortage’ visa — in theory a move in the right direction, but ultimately one that was made with little industry consultation. The jury is still out on whether this will ultimately be a positive for the nation.
There have been some new and interesting developments on the Assistance and Access Bill (2018), which I think are important to communicate. Despite a growing list of concerns with the bill as it stands, Prime Minister Morrison and Minister Dutton continue to call for the bill to be passed, with pressure being put on the PJCIS to recommend that it be passed before the end of parliamentary sitting time in 2018. ITPA has joined with a number of other technology industry groups to insist that the PJCIS does not rush to recommend the bill.
I’m sorry if this is starting to sound repetitive, but there’s still a determined attack by our federal government on online security, and it’s important that we don’t let the fight drop off as we tire of it. Since I last wrote on the topic, the first public hearing has been held by the PJCIS. Of the eleven members of the committee, four were in attendance — two from each major party. A number of people presented to the committee — you can see the full transcript in the Hansard record.
As we noted in our last newsletter, Minister Dutton pushed a barely modified version of the proposed “Assistance and Access Bill 2018” into parliament barely 10 days after the Department of Home Affairs’ consultation period ended. Minister Dutton claimed, “The government has consulted extensively with industry and the public on these measures and has made amendments to reflect the feedback in the legislation now before the parliament” — a claim that ITPA and many other concerned organisations take exception to, and the modifications to the Bill clearly did not take into account the very large amount of feedback that the department received.
Barely a week after the Department of Home Affairs consultation period closed, Minister Dutton has pushed into parliament a version of the Assistance and Access Bill 2018 with only minor changes. This was then referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), which is now running its own consultation period, closing on 12 October 2018. You can see the details here. It seems odd to us (and many other groups with expertise in this area) that all of the submissions to the original consultation could have been appropriately considered within the incredibly short time frame between the consultation closing and the bill being introduced to Parliament. Certainly, the level of changes (removing protecting government revenue as a reason for action under the bill) indicate that the vast majority of the feedback (our submission is here; a list …