E-Australia is the centerpiece of the Australian Labor Party's information technology policy, launched by Lundy in Brisbane today. Initiatives under its banner include the creation of a new group, E-Australia: Government IT and Online (GITO) to replace the existing Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO). The ALP also said it would appoint a federal government chief information officer.
Lundy said E-Australia would oversee five bodies: Australia Online, which would "address the economic, social and cultural challenges of business and community engagement and participation through the Internet;" Safety Online, which would devise strategies to help people protect themselves from unwanted content; Small Business Online, through which the existing small business online grants program ITOL (Information Technology Online) would be "refocussed"; Citizenship Online, which would support community debate and an Internet user advocacy group; and GITO, which would tackle issues from a whole-of-government perspective.
Lundy also said the ALP would adopt a checklist to avoid "ill-informed decisions to offshore Australian jobs" by government agencies.
"Labor believes that, if given the opportunity, Australian IT professionals will be able to satisfy the skill demands of companies in Australia operating in a globally competitive environment".
The checklist would, Lundy said, encompass six areas under the headings of: identify outputs or benefits and costs; considering corporate reputation, accountability and final decision-making; apply a national security test; identify risks and monitor and review performance.
Another key ALP initiative is a 10-year industry strategy for software and digital content, with the aim of growing Australia's slice of the growing sector.
In the open source area, the ALP would include in its industry strategy a way for small-to-medium enterprises to fast track Capability Maturity Model accreditation for software.
It would also provide AU$9 million for the establishment of a multimedia design and technology centre in Wollongong and AU$200,000 towards the research required to determine the ICT skills requirements for the medium to long term in Australia.
Other initiatives include AU$100,000 per year to support awards and scholarships to create opportunities for women undertaking tertiary study in ICT and a review of the ICT skilled migration program.
On the procurement front, Lundy said the ALP would review tender response times for ICT tenders, create a new ICT panel to pre-qualify contractors, work to eliminate over-specification from tenders and target "unreasonable and inconsistent" professional indemnity and public liability insurance requirements.
The ALP would aim for 50 percent small-to-medium enterprise participation at the sub-contractor level, where large enterprises secure a contract or contracts collectively valued at over AU$10 million.
Lundy said in the industry development sphere, the ALP would create a new administration for ICT-related policy and programs within a "stronger and more enterprise-oriented industry department".
It would also spend AU$8 million to deliver a coordinated strategy across all Australian governments to promote the country's ICT capabilities in international markets.
ICT would also be represented on a new National Manufacturing Council, a core initiative of the ALP's national manufacturing strategy.
Lundy said ICT would also benefit from initiatives in the ALP's education policy, such an AU$450 million fund to help Universities upgrade and AU$100 million to help lift ICT infrastructure in schools.
Other initiatives include a commitment to the continued funding of the controversial BITS (Building IT Strengths) incubator program, with Lundy saying "Labor ... believes that, if these incubators are to have any hope of becoming sustainable in the long term, less reliant on and ultimately independent of, public funds, that it is necessary to allow them to expand ... the types of incubatee companies eligible".
The ALP would also continue to support the National ICT Centre of Excellence and claimed it would foster stronger relationships between NICTA and a range of other science and technology bodies, including the CSIRO and University faculties.