Qld IT industry disillusioned by premier

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh spoke yesterday at an Australian Information Industry Association lunch, but failed to wow industry members, with many leaving disappointed.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh spoke yesterday at an Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) lunch, but failed to wow industry members, with many leaving disappointed.

"Despite being granted an incredible opportunity to win over an industry which involves approximately 70,000 employees, 6000 employers, and generates over $29 billion per annum in revenues, the premier chose to spend more than 10 minutes of her address extolling the virtues of the Queensland games sector, which employs less than 1000 staff and is at best a boutique sector," Software Queensland chair John Vickers said in a statement.

Vickers said that delegates had been "underwhelmed" by the lack of vision and inspiration.

"With regards to the good intentions of growth, development and nurturing of the ICT industry in Queensland, scarcely a strategy was mentioned," he said.

The National Broadband Network was barely mentioned and there was nothing of value said about nurturing small- and medium-sized enterprises in the state, according to the chair.

"Anna always impresses with her delivery and verbal dexterity, but when you have a bland and virtually content-free speech, this was nothing other than an opportunity squandered," said Vickers.

Longhaus managing director Peter Carr was also not impressed.

According to Carr, Bligh had said that cutting investment in IT was short-sighted, but Longhaus analysis had shown that in the last budget, capital investment in IT had fallen by a quarter of a billion dollars.

He said that there were a lot of elephants in the room that didn't get a mention, such as the effect on the industry of consolidating agencies and the impending revamp of the Queensland Driver Licence.

"In a year where she had so much to say of substance, there should have been some clear indication to budgetary spending and investments in ICT," Carr said. "We wanted to hear more about Health and Corptech, we wanted to hear more about industry development. We heard a lot about gaming."

Software Queensland was happy about what Bligh had said about the Queensland Health Payroll Debacle, with the premier having talked about people management shortfalls rather than software and hardware issues as the root cause of failure.

However, Carr said that the government hadn't accepted the blame for the problems. "She did say that as a client the Queensland Government was very unhappy with the Queensland Health situation. It wasn't shouldering responsibility."

Subtle fingers were pointed at players in the health saga, according to Carr. "It was a speech full of inference."

"It perceived the government as a client which had had something awful done to it."

Vickers pointed out that the industry had advised the government on the pitfalls of a shared services model across all agencies, advice which he said had been ignored.

AIIA chief information officer Ian Birks said that Queensland's premier was the only premier to have an event every year focused on ICT issues, and said that Bligh should be commended for that.

"I thought the premier's speech generally was pretty good," he said, adding that it touched on three major points: the connection between productivity and IT, the government's commitment to growing the digital economy, and its support for industry events.


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