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Heather Smith: keeping pace with digital disruption

Digital disruption has impacted every part of government, but few portfolios have seen quite as much change as the Department of the Communications and the Arts.

Heather Smith, now nine months into her role as departmental secretary of the portfolio, delivered a wide-ranging assessment of the challenges and shifts that digital disruption has brought as part of IPAA ACT‘s secretaries series of speeches.

Watch the video of the speech below, produced by contentgroup.

Some highlights from Smith’s address:

  • The communications and the arts sector’s economic footprint could overtake manufacturing’s contribution to Australia’s GDP in the next decade.
  • The department’s focus on the NBN is shifting from planning and construction to the consumer experience and the enabling impact of high speed broadband.
  • Spectrum resources are under increasing pressure, but pricing alone does not address the public policy dilemma.
  • Over the top services like Netflix and Facebook are rapidly overtaking traditional broadcasters and communications.
  • Current media and telecommunications regulations are out of date, bypassed by new players, while continuing to impose costs on traditional businesses.
  • Giant internet businesses like Google and Facebook are treated like they’re start-ups when they’re anything but. Is it practice or effective to regulate them?
  • Instead of sectoral-based reform, government wants to approach reform in the context of an ecosystem.

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Author Bio

Harley Dennett

Harley Dennett is editor at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's held communications roles in the New South Wales public sector and Defence, and been a staff reporter for newspapers in Sydney and Washington DC.