Govtech News Wrap – 21 October, 2021

Weekly news wrap of government technology

Federal Government releases Ransomware Action Plan, however critics fear businesses will fail to meet key recommendations; Govt to issue “vaccine passports” for international travel; and ICAC investigates dodgy software deal by two TAFE NSW execs.

The Federal Government has released its plan to deal with a fast-growing cyber scourge and use the law to clamp down on offenders, announcing its Ransomware Action Plan last week. The Plan details new criminal offences for using ransomware to engage in cyber extortion, as well as a separate charge for those that target critical infrastructure with the malware. Organisations impacted by ransomware will also be required to report incidents to the government.

However, some critics fear that urgings by the Australian Government to businesses to not pay cybercriminals when critical data and systems are put to ransom will ultimately go unheeded by leaders desperate to return their operations to normal.


– Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has unveiled plans to investigate the use of driverless ride-hail services, announcing a new partnership with Motional, a  joint venture between tech company Aptiv and Hyundai.

Joost de Kock, deputy secretary customer strategy and technology at TfNSW said the partnership “will help us better understand how a driverless ride-hail service could improve the NSW network by providing safer, more accessible, efficient, and affordable mobility options and understanding what needs to be adapted for Australian roads.”


The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found the conduct of two former Western Sydney TAFE execs “corrupt” following revelations the pair accepted, collectively, almost $450,000 from IT consultancy Oscillosoft to promote its budgeting software, iPlan.

As part of its three-year investigation, culminating in the Operation Lancer report, two finance managers at the Western Sydney Institute of TAFE were found to have “engaged in corrupt conduct when they were paid by Oscillosoft to favour the software over four years”, iTnews has revealed.


The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is seeking support to develop a ‘secret’ digital cache to store passwords, certificates, API keys and confidential data, managed “through an API and developer-friendly interface”.

Releasing details on the Government’s Request for Tender portal, the RBA said the new security solution is intended to “keep secure the machine identities and enable an adoption of the modern technologies such as containers, cloud services, the practices of development, security, and operations (DevSecOps) in a secure manner”.


The Federal Government has announced it will begin issuing internationally recognised vaccination certificates to Australians fully immunised against Covid-19.

From this week, Australian passport and visa holders who have their two vaccine jabs recorded in the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) will be able to obtain a pass, accessible through myGov or the Medicare Express Plus app.

The international proof of vaccination features a secure QR code to prove Covid-19 vaccination status to border authorities worldwide. The certificate can either be downloaded digitally or printed in hard copy.

The Government said “world-leading” Visible Digital Seal technology embedded within international proof of vaccination certificate is “as secure as an Australian passport, and authenticated in the same way”.

“Australia will share the Visible Digital Seal technology, building a curated library of technical documents to assist interested countries [to] develop their own vaccination certificates.”


The NSW Government has revealed plans to boost the country’s limited semiconductor design and development capability, announcing a new hub that will support local companies focused on semiconductor design and IP.

The hub, dubbed the Semiconductor Sector Service Bureau (S3B), will be based in Sydney’s Tech Central and funded by the state government.


The NSW Government has announced additional funding to deliver ICT traineeships in the public sector, committing part of its $100 million economic recovery package to skills training and workforce “future-proofing”.

The Government said the traineeships would support budding IT professionals within the public sector, creating training and employment opportunities within NSW Government agencies.


– IBM Australia has secured a $42 million deal with Australia’s Department of Defence to deliver an SAP case management system as part of the second tranche of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) overhaul.

The 19-month deal brings the total value of contracts signed with IBM on the ERP program this year to more than $170 million, iTnews has revealed.


The Federal Government has commenced consultation on the second round of its Regional Connectivity Program.

The program seeks to improve digital connectivity in regional and remote Australia, offering competitive grants for investment in projects that improve internet accessibility in regional, rural and remote communities.

Consultation is open until 29 October 2021, with applications for commencing in November.

The Government has invested $230.2 million in the program, committing $117.4 million under Round 1 to deliver 132 projects and an additional $112.8 million for Round 2, which includes $46.6 million of dedicated funding for Northern Australia.


– NSW Health has revealed its ‘Telestroke Service’, which provides 24/7 access for local doctors and specialist stroke physicians via video consultation, has provided assistance to more than 1,000 patients. Currently, 16 hospitals across the state are connected to the $21.7 million service.

The Telestroke service uses “cutting-edge technology”, including multi-modal brain imaging that allows clinicians to view stroke-affected areas remotely and real-time.

“Telestroke’s 1000th patient milestone exemplifies the world-class virtual care being delivered across the state,” said Dr Nigel Lyons, NSW Health Deputy Secretary, Health System Strategy and Planning.

“This vital service enables time-critical diagnosis and treatment for patients in regional and rural areas,” said Dr Lyons.


The South Australian Government has announced it will establish two new ag-tech start-up hubs in the state – one in South East (supporting innovations in livestock and grazing systems) and one in the Eyre Peninsular (specialising in broad-acre cropping and sheep production systems).

“The new start-up hubs will specifically support entrepreneurs in developing innovative technology capabilities, so they can help farmers solve critical agricultural industry challenges,” the SA Government said.

The Government predicts that increased AgTech adoption across the state could lead to an extra $2.6 billion value in agricultural production per year.


The ACT Government has launched a new dedicated website, MindMap, to assist Territorians with accessing mental health services and resources.

“The website helps children and young people under 25 to navigate support in a practical, safe and anonymous way by providing information on expected wait times, how to access services, advising if a referral is required and linking to resources which are best suited to their needs.”


The Tasmanian Government has appointed four Digital Ambassadors to promote the Government’s digital inclusion objectives, offering free digital assistance and group training sessions directly to communities in regional areas.

The move follows a report from the Australian Digital Inclusion Index, which ranked the state at the bottom of Australia’s digital inclusivity rankings. ACT was the highest-ranked state or territory in the country, 11 points ahead of Tasmania.


The WA Government has awarded a $155 million contract to NHOA Australia to deliver Western Australia’s biggest lithium-ion battery.

The 100-megawatt battery, to be built at the decommissioned Kwinana Power Station, will have the capacity to power the equivalent of 160,000 homes for two hours.

Construction will begin in November 2021 with the battery expected to be operational by the end of 2022.

The battery will be able to store excess rooftop solar energy during the day, when demand is low, and discharge electricity rapidly during the afternoon and evening peak.