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National Meeting of Digital Economy and Technology Ministers: Communiqué May 2020

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15 May 2020

The inaugural National Meeting of Digital Economy and Technology Ministers took place via video conference today. Ministers noted this meeting presented a unique opportunity to collectively lift the digital capability of Australian business, and contribute to making Australia a world leading digital economy by 2030.

The meeting was convened by Commonwealth Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, The Hon Karen Andrews MP, and was attended by:

  • The Hon Victor Dominello MP, Minister for Customer Service (New South Wales)
  • The Hon Martin Pakula MP, Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade (Victoria)
  • The Hon Kate Jones MP, Minister for State Development, Tourism and Innovation (Queensland)
  • The Hon Dave J Kelly MLA, Minister for Innovation and ICT, & Science (Western Australia)
  • The Hon David Pisoni MP, Minister for Innovation and Skills (South Australia)
  • The Hon Michael Ferguson MP, Minister for Science and Technology (Tasmania)
  • The Hon Lauren Moss MP, Minister for Corporate and Information Services (Northern Territory)

Ms Bettina Konti, the Australian Capital Territory’s (ACT) Chief Digital Officer represented Mr Andrew Barr MLA, Chief Minister of the ACT.

The Hon Gabrielle Upton MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of New South Wales, Mr David Thodey AO, Deputy Chairman of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission, and Mr Andrew Stevens, Chairman of Innovation and Science Australia also attended the meeting.

Ministers praised the ingenuity displayed by Australians and Australian businesses in response to the COVID19 crisis.  Tens of thousands of businesses rapidly responded to the changing environment and deployed digital solutions to support staff, serve customers, source alternate supply options, communicate with stakeholders and address operational and financial efficiency. The governments have provided several financial, social insurance and tax-related support and would monitor how they best served individual circumstances.

Prior research shows that using digital tools saves small businesses 10 hours per week and boosts their revenue by 27 per cent. Collectively, this amounts to 22 million hours saved per week and an additional $385 billion per year in revenue across all Australian small businesses.

Ministers agreed that Australia’s recovery and future economy relies on our collective ability to capture and sustain this step change.

“Many businesses have, by necessity, had to use technology to transform day-to-day operations and pivot to different business models. The experience has revealed new possibilities of doing things differently. Concerted, collaborative efforts are required to support business to sustain potential gains from digital adoption.”

Ministers agreed to establish a Digital Economy and Technology Senior Officials Group to progress this work, and promote more connected digital economy and technology policies across the Commonwealth, State, and Territory governments.

The senior officials will map the digital economy policies and business support services needed to accelerate the digitisation and resilience of businesses in response to COVID-19.

They will also complete an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Autonomous Systems Capability Map to highlight the areas of strength and expertise to drive greater collaboration domestically, and inform the promotion of Australia as key location for research and development, and commercialisation in these areas.

Senior officials will also work together on promoting pathways for digital and cyber security jobs, and identify technology led deregulation projects to support the growth of Australia’s digital economy and help reduce the compliance burden on business.

Ministers agreed that COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of digital inclusion in Australia. Ministers requested that the senior officials group work together to identify a collaborative project on addressing the digital divide.

Ministers agreed to meet three times per year to track the growth of Australia’s digital economy and technology ecosystem, and for regular reporting on the work of the senior officials group.

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