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Home Features Tom Burton: digital dog days as government gap exposed
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PEOPLEBill Scales, Jennifer Westacott, Malcolm Crompton, Drew Clarke, Don Russell
COMPANIESBCA, Eloqua, Marketo, Coles, Woolworths, ANZOG
DEPARTMENTSDepartment of Communications and the Arts, Department of Finance, Attorney-General's Department, Productivity Commission, Treasury, Australian Government Information Management Office
TAGS Telstra, National Broadband Network, Telecommunications in Australia, Identity management, Internet privacy, metadata
The mishandling of the metadata issue and the release of a new report on the failures of the NBN reveal deep weakness in government digital capacity.
If last week’s headlines around metadata and the National Broadband Network suggest anything, it is the need to sharply lift the digital governmental game.
As Australia navigates and seeks to profit from the phenomena of our times — the global digital revolution — it is critical government in all its facets gets its technology act together.
But the laughable, if it were not so tragic, debate about data retention and a new audit of NBN policy reveals serious policy development process defects, and exposed just how shallow Canberra’s digital smarts are.
Since World War II the Australian government has been dominated by two master groups: the reconstructionists and the economists. The reconstructionists were led by Nugget Coombs and a gaggle of (male) departmental secretaries who famously often met at The Commonwealth Club to sort the affairs of state. These were indeed the mandarins: pragmatic, hard-headed technocrats who tightly controlled the Commonwealth government and led Australia through a period of solid, if not spectacular, growth during the 1950s and ’60s.
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Tom Burton is publisher of The Mandarin based in Sydney. He has served in various public administration roles, specialising in digital engagement. He was a Walkley Award-winning journalist and executive editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. He worked as Canberra bureau chief for the Australian Financial Review and as managing editor of smh.com.au. He most recently worked at the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
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