Address to the Australian Information Industry Association

Release Date: 
19 March 2019

Thank you Greg and Ron for the kind introduction.

As I look across the room, I see many familiar faces of people I have worked with in my Ministerial capacity from both the public and the private sector.

I have always been a great believer in industry and government working together.

It’s a great credit to AIIA to be able to bring together those interested in the future of data and digital transformation, from both the government and the private sector.

As all of you in this room are acutely aware, right now, governments and businesses across the globe are seeking ways to take advantage of the enormous benefits offered by digital transformation.

Almost every day we hear of a country launching a new initiative or starting a new program to pursue data and digital-led innovation.

This pursuit is underway because we know that in the very near future, the prosperity of a nation will be tied directly to its digital capability.

If you are not sprinting towards this new future then you will be left behind.

Digital transformation holds the key to productivity growth, to transform public services, and make people’s lives better.


Digital government and industry

There is a strong expectation from citizens – a rightful one I believe – that public sector services are as fast, convenient and tailored to the individual needs as those provided by the private sector.

Digital transformation does give Government an opportunity to deliver services better – in a way that puts citizens at the heart of all delivery.

A 2017 AIIA survey found that 99 per cent of Australians said they would benefit from government using the latest technology for service delivery.

On the world stage Australia is now regarded as one of the leading countries in digital government.

I am particularly pleased to be telling this story to you – representatives and members of Australia’s successful information industry – because industry has played a key role in helping us get to where we are today.

The DTA and AIIA signed an MoU 12 months ago to explore ways to improve delivery of the government’s digital transformation agenda.

Many in this room have made a contribution to that.

Whether you have supplied services to government or provided advice and feedback on how we transform government, you have had an invaluable role.

Your feedback has led to many improvements in how the government engages with the industry.

In turn, we are doing more than ever before in opening up government for business.

Your role will continue to be crucial as Australia accelerates its journey to be a world leader in digital government.


Our success record

Over the past five and a half years the government has built a solid foundation for the digital transformation of government.

This foundation gave Australia a significant boost in its ranking from 12th to 2nd in the world in the UN e-Government Index in 2014 and allowed us to maintain that ranking in 2016 and 2018.

When I started in this portfolio, I made it clear that I had a big and ambitious agenda across three priorities:

  • digitising more government services;
  • improving the return on ICT investment; and
  • harnessing the power of data.

Now, 15 months later, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on what we have been able to achieve to date and the important role of industry in making it happen.



Let me start with our vision for the future.

In my first speech to AIIA in June last year, I shared my vision of Australia being in the top three digital governments in the world by 2025.

To achieve this vision, I committed to delivering the Digital Transformation Strategy, because we know that short-term thinking alone will not build a world’s best digital government.

We launched the Strategy in November – in this very room – after many iterations and consultations across industry and government, including states and territories.

The Strategy sets a clear direction for the next seven years, focussed on 3 strategic priorities to achieve our goals.

The first is a Government that is easy to deal with.

We want to offer people and businesses, simple and intuitive services, eliminating the need to deal with multiple agencies or layers of government.

We think you should be able to choose how and when you interact with government.

Services and interactions should become personalised and focused around your individual needs and abilities.

The second priority is a Government that is informed by you.

We all know that public data has the potential to directly impact the lives of all Australians in a positive way.

We are putting in place the safeguards and protections to ensure that Australians have confidence in government using data for the national benefit.

This will enable us to design better policies, make sure our services meet your needs, and ensure government programs are efficient and effective.

The third strategic priority for the Digital Transformation Strategy is a Government that is fit for the digital age.

This means we provide services that are unified and consistent through the use of platforms technology.

We must have impeccable and secure data and digital technology practices.

Finally, we must have a digitally skilled APS workforce supporting the right organisational structures.

Alongside the Strategy, we released a Roadmap that provides clear transparency and accountability on our progress to achieving our vision and priorities.

This Roadmap outlines more than 100 key projects and milestones, backed by over $1bn of investment, being delivered by over 20 agencies over the next 24 months.

The Roadmap will be updated yearly to account for progress and new initiatives.

You can look forward to this year’s Budget on April 2 for a clear indication of the next wave of investment in our Roadmap.

On progress, even though it has just been four months since the Strategy was launched, I am very pleased to be able to tell you today that more than 42 initiatives have been delivered and are producing measurable outcomes.


Digital Identity

For example, we now have a total of three pilots of myGovID currently underway – and by the end of this financial year there will be eight.

This is crucial, because I strongly believe that Digital Identity is going to be one of the real game changers of the near future and fundamental to achieving our goals.

In last year’s Budget, I secured $92.4m in funding to accelerate the development of myGovID.

This enabled us to start the first pilot for digital identity in October with the Australian Taxation Office to issue a Tax File Number.

The result was simplifying a process that currently takes about a month to have it completed in a matter of minutes.

We are right now running two additional pilots that are going to make it easier for Australian businesses to deal with government.

These include a pilot program using myGovID to access the Australian Business Registry – something 160,000 people do on behalf of a business every year.

We are also running a pilot using myGovID to access grant management systems.

Every year, 2000 organisations regularly apply for, manage, report and acquit government grants.

Given these numbers, it is easy to see how having one easy-to-use digital identity – no matter what you need from government – is going to have an enormous impact, particularly in terms of efficiencies, for Australian businesses and people.

This applies equally when dealing with the federal government, states and territories, or private sector participants.

In December I signed an MoU with Premier Marshall for the Commonwealth to collaborate with the South Australia on digital identity.

Such collaborations will be crucial in the future to provide the benefits of digital identity across the entire economy, not just the government.

However, for these benefits to be achieved, it is paramount that people and businesses have confidence that this is being built with privacy and security at the very core of the system.

To ensure that, digital identity is being built with solid frameworks in place to guide its development, such as the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF).

Over the last year, we have released for consultation several versions of TDIF and received over 2,000 comments on the drafts.

This feedback has come from privacy advocates, digital identity experts, industry groups, Australian Government agencies, state and territory governments, standards bodies, companies and members of the public.

We have also undertaken Privacy Impact Assessments and made it absolutely and unequivocally clear that digital identity is an opt-in system only, driven by user demand.

We are determined to get it right.

I am pleased to announce an additional $67.2m in funding for digital identity over the next 12 months.

This new investment will allow us to continue to develop the system.

This gives us the opportunity to understand our users, incorporate their feedback and continue to fine tune the pilots to make them better and better before making them available to everyone.

This process is crucial to making sure that the system is meeting the expectations of Australians.

The new funding will be used to further expand the 8 pilots and enable the integration of the digital identity system with myGov.



Since its beginnings in 2013, myGov has grown to be the primary platform for Australians interacting with the Government.

As of last month myGov has over 15m active accounts;

That means that an overwhelming proportion of Australians have a myGov account;

Almost 4 million (3.7 million) of these accounts were created in the last 2 years alone.

Not only are more people using myGov, they are using this service more often.

There has been a 40% increase in the number of daily logins during this same period, from 355,000 in FY17-18 to an average of around 500,000 this financial year.

The number of myGov member services is also growing. It now enables access to 12 services across federal and state governments;

Integrating digital identity with myGov is a natural next step.

This will enable many Australians to choose a simple and secure way to prove who they are and access services conveniently and securely.

However, for those who cannot or choose not to use a digital identity, the current channels for dealing with the government will continue to be available.



myGov is a great example for the power of platforms in simplifying service delivery.

Platforms allow government to harness common, reusable business capabilities and digital platforms to deliver simple and convenient services.

In December last year we launched a whole-of-government Digital Platforms Strategy.

It provides guidance for agencies to improve the consistency of government services and encourage innovation and inter-operability.

This means we won’t have every single government department needing to reinvent the wheel when it comes to digital services.

Neither will we need citizens to be going to visit multiple government agencies to get the services they need.

Platforms will be able to meet the individual needs and preferences of citizens, connecting a variety of services to one central point, based around common life experiences.

A great example of this is Service Connect platform.

I launched this in December with the first service being the Child Care Finder.

The service allows parents to see at a glance where child care vacancies exist, as well as information about fees, opening hours, whether extra services such as meals or nappies are provided and how providers rate against the National Quality Framework.

The service has so far benefited hundreds of thousands of parents as well as service providers, currently averaging over 3,000 visits each day.

This is a game changer for Australians with young families.

Last month, working with RBA, we launched a real time payment platform to make it faster and easier for people – especially those in difficult circumstances – to receive government payments.

The Department of Human Services has been trialling this new system for the past six months, which allows people to instantly access their money instead of waiting 24 to 48 hours for it to appear in their bank account.

Already, it has benefitted thousands of Australians, making over 57,000 payments worth over $19 million dollars.

This includes delivering $2.2 million in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments instantly, to people affected by the Townville floods

While these platforms are at the pointy end of service delivery, other platforms, such as digital identity, Notifications and Tell Us Once, are critical to providing the fundamental choice in the way people engage with government.

They will allow people to determine how and when they communicate with government and ensure they only need to share information once.

This will save people time and government agencies money by reducing duplication.


Data Reforms

In order to achieve that, we are making significant investments to reform and improve our public data system.

In May last year, I announced $65 million for a suite of reforms to improve the way public sector data is accessed, shared and released, and enhance the safeguards in our data system.

Since that announcement, we have made significant progress to deliver on this agenda. 

We have established the Office of the National Data Commissioner and in August we appointed Deborah Anton as the Interim National Data Commissioner to lead the agenda.

We are developing new Data Sharing and Release legislation to facilitate and improve sharing and release of public data, with appropriate security and privacy safeguards.

The legislation is designed with privacy protections embedded at its core, complementing existing protections and frameworks.

This will ensure we get the balance right between innovation and important considerations such as privacy, security and public benefit.

To complement the legislation, today I am releasing a ‘Sharing Data Safely’ package.

It provides a common operating model for government agencies to safely share data as well as communicate to the public on how the government actually uses and manages data.

These consistent and shared practices for data management will enhance our efforts to unlock the value of the data the public sector holds.

The guidance material for public servants will provide a risk management approach around how and when it’s appropriate to share or release data, and what safeguards need to be in place before data is shared.

Safeguards can then be dialled up or down depending on the context and manner in which data will be used. 

We have created an animation and brochure that explains what ‘Sharing Data Safely’ really means. The brochure is available at your tables.

I’m also keen to get the public involved as much as possible.

Public awareness and engagement with this material will help ensure we understand community concerns and get the balance right.

The full package is available on the Office of the National Data Commissioner’s website.

Finally, we are establishing a National Data Advisory Council which will advise the National Data Commissioner on ethical data use, community expectations, technical best practice, and industry and international developments.

The Council will comprise up to ten members from the Australian Government, business and industry, civil society and academics.

This ensures there is a balanced range of views from all sectors.

I will be announcing Council members shortly.


Data Achievements

When data is used effectively, it can enable better and more targeted services to be developed for those who need it the most – promoting higher levels of competition, driving innovation and boosting economic enterprise.

Equally important, public data can also help us understand complex issues and matters of national interest.

One example is when the Government’s Joint Agency Drought Taskforce recently partnered with Data61 to develop the Drought Map.

This fantastic tool is an online interactive map of Australia, bringing together valuable data from a range of government sources in one place.

It shows drought conditions and support measures to help with analysis, decision-making, planning and reporting.

Anyone can access the Drought Map - farmers, businesses, and interested members of the public can use the resource at any time online.

Today I’m pleased to share with you an update on another important open data initiative.

In a collaboration between the Digital Transformation Agency and Data61, the Australian Government has just launched the next generation of its open data platform,

The revamped interface features the new Making Australian Government Data Available platform which now has over 78,000 datasets available.

This is over 40,000 more datasets than this time six months ago.

This platform will make it easier for the private and research sectors to collaborate with government to help unlock the value of open data for the benefit of all Australians.

We continue to actively support and encourage Australians to access this data and develop innovative ways of developing insights from it.

In September, DTA became the lead national agency sponsor of GovHack 2018, supporting the innovative use of open data and helping to unlock its potential value.

DTA issued two challenges as part of the competition, which attracted 118 entries that have demonstrated innovative thinking in solving issues ranging from preventing bankruptcy to which locations in Australia most needed Tax Office shopfronts.



We know that a skilled Australian Public Service that is ready for the future is vital to achieving our vision of being one of the best digital governments in the world.

We are working across government to boost and attract digital skills so that we have the right workforce to deliver a digital government.

In July last year we opened up a new digital training capability on the Digital Marketplace for providers of digital training and capability programs for government agencies.

In August, we launched DTA’s first co-Lab Innovation Hub, providing a dedicated space and resources for government agencies to come together to collaborate on new and innovative digital projects.

In December, our Digital Emerging Talent program saw the graduation of over 120 apprentices, cadets and graduates.

This year a further 102 program participants will commence across 16 government agencies.

To date, more than 1,100 digital apprentices, cadets and graduates have taken part in the program.

In February, we announced the DTA challenge to SMEs to put forward effective and innovative ways for uplifting government capability as part of the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII).

Innovative solutions will benefit from up to $100,000 in initial funding for a feasibility study and a proof of concept grant of up to $1 million in the second phase of the challenge.

We are also sharpening our focus on supporting women working in digital across the APS through a range of existing and new initiatives.

This includes outreach to universities and TAFEs, and executive mentoring programs.

Earlier this month, I announced a Women in Digital Network for APS employees.

This is a joint venture with industry that provides coaching, mentoring and networking opportunities for women who are already working in the sector, while also actively encouraging younger women to consider technology careers.

I would like to thank our partners in the industry – including Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Gartner, Oracle, Amazon Web Services, the AIIA and the Women in Information and Communication, who have enthusiastically thrown their support behind this important initiative.


Australian Digital Council

Since we launched our vision for the Digital Transformation Strategy, we have made tremendous progress.

However, in order to achieve our goals, we cannot go it alone.

Australians are telling us loud and clear that they do not want to deal with separate agencies or separate layers of government when they need help.

Traditionally, different layers of government have tended to work on their digital projects in isolation and, in some cases, almost in competition with each other.

In September, we reached an historic agreement across all States and Territories to work collaboratively to accelerate the development of faster and simpler digital services to help improve the lives of all Australians.

To achieve that, I convened the Australian Digital Council, bringing together digital and data Ministers from around the nation for the first time in the history of the Federation to improve cooperation and collaboration.

Since the initial meeting, the Council has developed a substantial body of important initiatives that drive collaboration and alignment across data and digital transformation.

The Council is also developing a report of all signature data and digital initiatives underway across each jurisdiction.

This report will be released soon, and will show the progress we have made as a nation, as well and the enormous opportunities that exist for more national collaboration.

It will be the first time that a comprehensive report of the data and digital transformation initiatives across the nation will be put together.

I trust this will demonstrate not only to Australians, but the entire world, that Australia is well deserving of its status as a world-leading country in digital government.



The role of industry

This world-leading status would not be possible without the strong collaboration with the private sector.

As I said in my first speech to AIIA last year, the Australian Government regards industry as a key partner as we progress along the road of digital transformation.

Leading digital organisations in the private sector set the benchmarks for user experience and thus the expectations of Australians regarding government services.

In turn, the industry has been instrumental in providing insights and innovation in digital transformation for government organisations.

In September last year, I led a trade delegation of innovative Australian start-ups and SMEs, as well as industry leaders to the US.

This was a tremendous opportunity to partner with AIIA and to gain valuable insights into the workings of the world’s largest technology market.

It was also a great opportunity to showcase some amazing Australian talent and to foster a greater understanding between private and public sector organisations.

As the government adopts emerging technologies, the role of the industry will continue to be important.

For example, in November I launched the first Augmented Intelligence Centre of Excellence, operated by DHS, which showcased leading technology and solutions from across the industry and public sector.

I am confident that such building blocks are now in place to ensure this collaboration continues.



We cannot talk about the relationship between government and industry without mentioning procurement.

One of our most successful engagements with industry has been our Digital Marketplace.

This was set up to make it easier for companies to do business with government – and to make it easier for government to harness the expertise of industry.

I’d like to bring you up to date with where we are with the latest figures on the Digital Marketplace. It is very impressive:

As of right now, $358 million worth of contracts have been awarded through the Marketplace since August 2016.

73% of the dollar value contracted through the Marketplace since that time has been awarded to SMEs.

We now have over 1800 registered buyers, and 1200 approved suppliers.

In total, there have been 1315 total opportunities.

Of these, 59% of briefs have been open to all, and 65% of briefs have been for digital specialists.

This is a picture of a healthy, vibrant and competitive marketplace that continues to grow.

Just this year we have added two new sourcing pathways to the Digital Marketplace.

The first is the ‘seek proposals and quotes pathway’ that gives buyers a faster, more efficient way to source digital services.  

It makes it easier for buyers who are clear on their needs and requirements to approach sellers directly for a quote or proposal.

The second is ‘Ask the Market’.

This provides buyers the opportunity to seek an EOI/RFI for small scale experimentation, trial products or to test the market.

It allows buyers to approach the market with a question or a problem and incorporate the feedback before fully defining the solution requirements.

It also gives sellers the opportunity to respond with innovative solutions, allowing industry to provide additional value and innovation to government.

We are committed now and into the future to making it simpler, clearer and faster for government agencies to buy information and communications technology.

I would like to thank bodies like the AIIA for their ongoing commitment to collaborating with us to meet this goal.

The Digital Sourcing Framework that I released to this audience in June last year has led to a successful change in the way we source ICT products and services.

We have taken great care in how we improve opportunities for SMEs and have had significant success as I mentioned earlier - but we also have the best value agreements in place for whole of government high volume sourcing.

For example, the whole-of-government purchasing agreement we signed in July with IBM is the first of its kind in the world and is expected to deliver more than $100 million in savings and benefits for taxpayers over the next five years.

The Microsoft Volume Software Sourcing Arrangement has generated estimated savings in excess of $200 million.

The SAP Whole of Government Purchasing Agreement has provided consistent terms and conditions, including improved security and portability protections.

These agreements simplify the procurement process, provide the best conditions and pricing available as well as significant cost savings and convenience for government, while enabling us to tap into the innovation that leading companies are producing.


Where to from here / Conclusion

As you may have heard, after the next election I am retiring from politics, and therefore this portfolio.

Despite only being in this role for the last 15 months, I am proud of what we have achieved.

I am confident that I am leaving with a solid foundation in place, having made significant progress on some of the most important elements for delivering our vision to be a world leading digital government:

  • Launching Australia’s first Digital Transformation Strategy and making strong progress on its delivery;
  • Implementing Australia’s first digital identity system – a fundamental enabler of digital government;
  • Focussing on digital platforms – which help orient services around the user needs;
  • Reforming the use of data – the fuel that powers digital transformation in all its forms;
  • Investing in developing digital capability – the key to make digital transformation happen.
  • Securing alignment with states and territories through the new Australian Digital Council; and
  • Developing a strong partnership with the industry as a source for both innovation and delivery capability.

I think this is a pretty good starting point for whoever takes this role next.

I am confident that Australia is well on the way to achieving the goal of being one of the best digital governments in the world.

I couldn’t have done it without the support of my colleagues, industry and the extraordinary public servants that support us.

I want to give my thanks to:

Randall Brugeaud, whom I appointed as the CEO of DTA in June last year, and has done a tremendous job in taking the agency to a whole new level; and

Deb Anton, whom I appointed as the Interim National Data Commissioner in August last year, and has been leading the charge on the challenging work on data reform.

Both of them know that there is still plenty to do to achieve our goals and will continue to deliver the initiatives outlined in our digital transformation roadmap as we make significant further leaps forward on the road to digital government.

Beyond that, there are many exciting opportunities ahead I’ve been thinking about, such as:

  • Service personalisation;
  • Digital humans;
  • E-signatures;
  • User choice and management of their government data;
  • Whole of economy digital identity;
  • E-democracy; and more.

I may be stepping away from this role, but I will continue to keep a close watch on Australia’s progress in this space.

Until then, thank you everyone in this room for your contribution in making this happen.

Thank you AIIA for all your assistance during my time in the portfolio and for providing this opportunity to talk to you again today.