Australians will thank government for immeasurable innovation agenda: Morrison

Treasurer says government will not apologise for 'moving too quickly' in the design and implementation of its 2015 innovation agenda.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Australia Treasurer Scott Morrison has brushed aside an Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report that found the government's AU$1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda lacked an ability to assess its outcomes.

"Much of the advice was general in nature and did not present quantitative or in-depth analysis of problems, expected impacts, or how outcomes would be measured," ANAO said in its report into the agenda.

"Limited or no advice was provided to government during the design process on a range of implementation matters for the Agenda as a whole including: implementation risks, governance, and evaluation arrangements."

Morrison hit back when speaking to journalists on Thursday, saying the government was unapologetic.

"The criticism that has been made of we are moving too quickly, and the government is not going to make apologies for moving too quickly to get in place the right incentives ... to drive jobs to support the economy," he said.

"If the criticism that is going to be made of us is that we are moving too quickly, then I think that is something the Australian people will thank us for."

The ANAO report recommended the Department of Industry finalise the evaluation strategy for the National Innovation and Science Agenda, and establish formal monitoring arrangements with relevant entities, so that the results of evaluation activities can be used to inform advice to government on future measures and the continuation of existing measures.

While focused on the future during an address on the launch of an Australian Computer Society data sharing white paper, Morrison did not address the spate of technology failures the government has had a hand in over the recent past -- including the Census bungle, the Centrelink robodebt crisis, and the ongoing problems plaguing the Australia Taxation Office (ATO).

In response to a question from ZDNet on how government would work through its ongoing IT issues, the Treasurer continued looking ahead and bizarrely cited the momentum in the fintech sector.

"We are rocketing up the rankings for being one of the fastest take-up countries for fintech innovation, and our fintech providers and developers are proving to be among the best in the world," Morrison told ZDNet.

"So we are creating an environment where our businesses are really getting ahead in this area ... and more broadly, boosting the productivity of the Australian economy."

The ATO, which is within the Treasurer's remit, has continued to be hit by outages and failures of its IT infrastructure, and as recently as this week, had its site go down again.

The highest-profile outage the ATO has experienced during its IT annus horribilis has been the failure of its HPE SAN at the end of 2016.

A report on series of outages the Taxation Office experienced as a result said the SAN could not handle more than one drive or cage failure thanks to a design decision taken by HPE, which owned and operated it.

As noted by the report, an analysis of logs from the six months before the incident showed a number of alerts indicating problems with the SAN.

In July, Australian Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan said the ATO expected its IT will operate smoothly in the future, having done everything it can to ensure this.

However, while Jordan was speaking, the ATO site was offline suffering from "intermittent system issues".

The ATO revealed in April it had received a total of 136 complaints in the first four months of outages since its SAN failure.

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