Govtech Weekly News Wrap – 11 February, 2021

Weekly news wrap of government technology

Commonwealth Ombudsman calls out law enforcement agencies for improper access to telecoms data; NSW Police to build new cybersecurity operations centre; and Google Cloud gets tick of approval to support government workloads.

Tracking the week that was in tech and digital innovation news across Australia’s public sector.

  • The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has expanded its Covid data matching program with Services Australia, collecting and matching data from an extra half a million people to confirm businesses’ eligibility for the Government’s JobKeeper scheme.


  • A recent report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman has called out law enforcement agencies across federal and state governments for “[accessing] telecommunications data without proper authority”. Tasmania Police was singled out for its ill-developed compliance culture. “We considered that the required improvements could not be implemented without fundamental changes to the way Tasmania Police approaches compliance,” the report said.


  • A recent audit of three South Australian councils has found they lack adequate governance structures to fully protect their data assets. Auditor-General Andrew Richardson said the councils had “some way to go to achieve ICT security standards that appropriately mitigated the risk of various cyber security threats”.



  • Service NSW has commenced a trial of a series of secure, cross-agency data transfer solutions, providing an alternative to vulnerable email systems that have put customers’ PII at risk of loss.


  • Google Cloud and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) can now carry protected Australian Government data, with the public cloud and SaaS solutions having been formally assessed and certified under the information security registered assessors program (IRAP). Google says the IRAP certification “opens the door” for different levels of government to store data and run workloads on these Google platforms.


  • A new report by the NSW Standards Harmonisation Taskforce has urged Government and industry to adopt common cybersecurity standards to better protect government agencies and SMEs. The Taskforce is a collaboration between the Department of Customer Service, AustCyber and Standards Australia, as well as other industry leaders and business representatives.


  • The latest half-yearly Notifiable Data Breaches report by the OAIC has revealed that human error was the leading cause of breaches involving the Australia Government. The Government also, for the first time, entered the Top 5 industry sectors to notify data breaches, replacing the insurance sector.



  • The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is seeking a development partner to help build its prototype APS Career Pathfinder tool into a fully functional solution. The Pathfinder is designed to help users explore professional digital roles based on their skills or interests as well as identify skills gaps.



  • Oracle has expanded its reach for delivering government cloud services in Australia, opening a ‘Dedicated Region Cloud@Customer’ – effectively its third cloud region in Australia – in a deal with Australian Data Centres (ADC). ADC says its facilities are built specifically to comply with Australian Government storage requirements, including data sovereignty.


  • The Federal Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has rolled out state-of-the-art X-ray scanning units to automatically detect fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood and plant material being brought across the Australian border.


  • The Federal Government has opened its Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund, a $26.5 million program providing grants of between $250,000 and $3 million to improve the quality and availability of cybersecurity professionals.


  • The Queensland Government is using a specially designed remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to further knowledge of the Gold Coast’s underwater environments and improve waterways management. The ROV is part of a $34 million investment in maintaining Gold Coast waterways.


  • A Brisbane-based biotech firm, Ellume, along with the US Government, has been awarded a $300 million contract by the Queensland Government to produce Covid-19 home testing kits.


  • The Australian Government is inviting feedback on draft standards, rules and benchmarks for Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) networks, providing a legal framework to connect Australians to “super fast” broadband services.


  • The NSW Government has commenced a Digital Photo Card trial in the Western Sydney suburb of Penrith. The trial will test the functionality and effectiveness of the Digital Photo Card ahead of a state-wide rollout. This trial comes off the back the Government’s Digital Driver Licence, which is now held by 2.4 million, or 41 per cent, of NSW drivers licence holders.


  • The CSIRO has unveiled new bushfire prediction technology that uses data on weather, location, terrain, and vegetation to help predict bushfires. The ‘Spark’ fire prediction tool will be upgraded over the next three years into a nationally consistent bushfire modelling and prediction program.


  • The Tasmanian Government has launched a new Electric Vehicle (EV) home-charging trial. The trial provides Tasmanian EV owners with a “smart fast charger” for home use, expected to improve efficiency and help energy networks better forecast load-growth.


  • The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has announced a partnership with Accenture to create a cloud-based machine learning and analytics platform. The platform will connect oceanographic data from disparate sources to assist coral reef conservation efforts.


  • A recent report has found scam calls are impeding attempts by Service NSW to contact thousands of Australian citizens that fell victim to a data breach last year. Up to 30,000 people impacted by the breach are yet to be notified.


  • The Western Australian Government will invest $1 million to enhance broadband services across the Northern Goldfields, making up for lacklustre NBN capabilities in the region, according to WA’s Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan. The upgrade will serve to improve bandwidth to support greater IoT capabilities and bridge the “digital divide”.


  • Australia’s first hydro-powered battery will be built near Albury following approval by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. “The battery will be able to dispatch energy to the grid during peak demand, boosting grid stability and energy security in what is the first co-located battery and hydro project in Australia,” Minister for Planning Rob Stokes said.