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Digital Economy Strategy gnomes

The government's National Digital Economy Strategy has potential, but there's a gap between the plans and the goals.
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Written by Josh Taylor, Senior Journalist on

The government's National Digital Economy Strategy has potential, but there's a gap between the plans and the goals.

The National Digital Economy Strategy (PDF) sets out some semi-ambitious goals for Australia to reach by 2020 — pushing Australia from 18th in household fixed broadband penetration in the OECD to the top five, boosting telecommuting Australians to 12 per cent, telehealth consultation boosts to 25 per cent and boosting Australia's ranking to the top five in the OECD for businesses online.

The announcement was also accompanied by eight goals around e-government, health, environment, education, housing, business, teleworking and rural and regional Australia for 2020. There was also a sprinkling of funding including $23.8 million for the creation of "Digital Hubs" that will teach the non-tech-heads amongst us how to use email, and how to conduct internet searches.

It's great that the government is setting some goals for itself, but reading the document in-depth, there's very little about how it intends to meet those all-important key performance indicators beyond the initial funding.

Instead, there is a bit of information about what the situation is now, a few case studies here and there, a few plugs for the National Broadband Network and a commitment to "monitor" the progress of the initiatives that the government had announced.

The whole document reminds me of the Underpants Gnomes from South Park. The underpants gnomes were going around South Park stealing people's underpants to make a profit. Their business plan was made up of the following three phases:

  1. Steal underpants.
  2. ?
  3. Profit!

While I like that the government has laid out number of different goals and investments for the next four or so years, it still seems like there's a big gap between 2015 and 2020 that is a mystery. If the government is going to get serious, some more detail, accompanied by critical analysis from the experts, is needed.

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