Australian Computer Society

ICT Development in Australia

A Strategic Policy Review


This report has been prepared for the Australian Computer Society.

Copies can be obtained from The Australian Computer Society National Office:

PO Box Q534, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney NSW 1230
Phone: (02) 9299 3666
Fax: (02) 9299 3997

Copyright© 2002, Australian Computer Society Inc.

General permission to republish, but not for profit, all or part of this material is granted, provided that the ACS's copyright notice is given and that reference is made to the publication, to its date of issue, and to the fact that reprinting privileges were granted by the Australian Computer Society Inc.

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-publication data:

Australian Computer Society.
ICT Development in Australia: A Strategic Policy Review

ISBN 0 90992 599 2

1. Information Technology. 2. Communications
3. Policy. 4. Australian Computer Society


As we move into a new century, Australia's ability to harness ICT for the collective national benefit has been questioned.

The Australian Computer Society commissioned Professor John Houghton from the Centre of Strategic Economic Studies to draw together the most recent performance data on Australia's participation in ICT as both a user and producer. ACS also asked Professor Houghton to review the various Australian government policy initiatives implemented since the first pro-active ICT programs were applied in the mid 1980s, and provide a perspective of the current gaps in ICT policy.

Professor Houghton has brought these two inquiry paths together into a strategic policy framework for ICT. The result is a three-tiered strategy that groups over 50 detailed policy options and priority actions. The three interdependent elements of that strategy are:

Our objective in releasing this report is to raise the level of debate among the key stakeholders and influencers - ICT companies, ICT professionals, institutions and public policy makers. Clearly, bold policy initiatives are necessary to address current negative trends.

Professor Houghton's report warns of decline in a range of economic measures of national ICT 'well-being':

In March 2002, at the World Congress on Information Technology in Adelaide, Prime Minister Howard announced the formation of an important industry-government-institutions advisory group to develop an ICT Framework For The Future. The ACS has welcomed this initiative and now offers this report as one of the first detailed contributions to the Framework process.

We would also like to see this debate extend beyond industry boundaries and become a public issue. The reality is that what we do or don't do in relation to ICT over the next five years will impact on the wealth and well-being of all Australians.

Richard G. Hogg
Australian Computer Society

June 2002

Executive Summary

ATaking stock and moving forward

The Commonwealth Government recently established a Broadband Advisory Group and a joint industry-government advisory group to develop an ICT Framework for the Future. The Australian Computer Society (ACS) welcomes these initiatives. As an input to discussions the ACS commissioned a review of policy reports in order to distil and synthesise the key strategic directions and policy suggestions emerging from recent analysis. Our aim in releasing this summary is to contribute to policy debate. We seek to build on what has already been learned and achieved, and to move forward by building consensus for a bipartisan approach to the development of ICT in Australia.

Major insights

Recent policy reports contain a number of insights, which provide an essential input if we are to learn from experience and build on past achievements. They include:

Elements of a strategy

Recent policy reports have different foci and use different terminology, but certain themes are common. The key elements of a strategy are clear:

Priorities for action

This report outlines more than fifty detailed priority actions, three of which are identified as flagship initiatives.

  1. Establishing a platform for production to support both ICT producing and using industries - by fostering innovation, developing the necessary infrastructure and regulatory framework, and enhancing skills and professionalism;

  2. Building businesses - by fostering business improvement, enabling market access and expansion, and actively facilitating cluster development; and

  3. Achieving scale - by creating an attractive investment environment, establishing an investment fund and engaging in pro-active investment attraction.

Government must recognise that having a local ICT research and production capacity enables rapid take-up and deployment of ICTs across the economy. It is equally important to realise that ICT production and trade play a significant role in driving employment and productivity growth. By joining with industry in providing vision and leadership, governments can underpin ICT development in Australia. By failing to do so, they can undermine it.

The ACS calls upon governments and other industry stakeholders to join forces, constructively develop and debate policy options, build on the lessons of the past and strive for a brighter and more prosperous future.

This web adaption of the foreword and executive summary of the report was prepared by Tom Worthington, 27 June 2002 from the MS-Word version. The report is also in PDF