Govtech Weekly News Wrap – 22 April, 2021

Weekly news wrap of government technology

National Data Commissioner backs the Government’s controversial data-sharing regime, with an independent auditor also urging the Feds to enforce the same restrictions on public agencies as private sector; icare seeks out vendor to build new content management platform; and IBM secures massive deal with Defence to overhaul its ERP. 

 Australia’s interim National Data Commissioner, Deborah Anton, has backed the Government’s controversial new data-sharing regime, claiming it will “streamline” service delivery. Addressing a Senate committee hearing, Anton said the Government and the public needed to find a balance in data sharing that “[engages] sensibly with risk”.

The proposed Data Availability and Transparency Act seeks a considerable expansion of privileges to share public sector data between agencies and private organisations. The Act has been criticised by legal experts and civil and digital rights advocates, who have raised concerns around “a lack of privacy safeguards, weak consent requirements and the bypassing of existing privacy laws”, InnovationAus reports.

As reported by iTnews, a recent privacy impact assessment of the proposed Act conducted by independent auditor, Information Integrity Solutions, has also called for agencies to be subject to the same accreditation requirements as the private sector, which it said would effectively “gate” data. The report also warns the Government not to oversell the practice of ‘de-identification’ or ‘anonymisation’, which it said cannot be “sold as a standalone panacea”.


The Department of Defence has inked a two-year, $128 million deal with IBM Australia to implement the second phase of the Department’s planned enterprise resource planning (ERP) system overhaul. The new ERP system is based on SAP’s Defence Forces and Public Security solution, hosted on SAP’s S/4 HANA cloud platform.


The Victorian Government will invest $50 million in a new vaccine production facility to support domestic manufacturing of mRNA-based vaccines – the same technology behind the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. Health Minister Martin Foley said the technology is the “way of the future” and could be used for other purposes. However, it will take at least 12 months for the facility to be up and running.


– The ACCC has won an historic court case against bigtech Google for misrepresenting the capture of personal data. The Federal Court, ruling in favour of the ACCC, found Google had misled consumers about personal location data collected through Android mobile devices. The Court ruled that when consumers created a new Google Account during the initial set-up process of their Android device, Google misrepresented that the ‘Location History’ setting was the only Google Account setting that affected whether Google collected, kept or used personally identifiable data about their location, the ACCC said in a statement.

“Today’s decision is an important step to make sure digital platforms are up front with consumers about what is happening with their data and what they can do to protect it,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.


The Federal Government’s forthcoming “permissions capability”, which is hoped to support more efficient processing of visas, permits, accreditation, licenses and registrations, is​ reportedly still lacking a development partner nearly six months after an initial tender was issued by Home Affairs.

The Government proposed that a contractor would be selected and announced by March this year. Last month the DHA shortlisted three large US tech firms to take on the job of developing “integrated, enterprise-scale workflow capability to be used across the Commonwealth”.


The Digital Transformation Agency will again be overseen by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet DPMC) two years after it was moved to the Social Services portfolio. However, the agency will still remain under the purview of the newly appointed Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business Stuart Robert.

Robert previously served as Minister for Government Services and Minister for the NDIS, which directly administered the DTA, until a cabinet reshuffle earlier this year saw his move sideways to the Employment, Workforce and Skills ministry.

The DTA’s move back under the DPMC has been welcomed by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the country’s peak representative for the ICT industry, which called it a positive outcome for the progress of digitisation across government.


– Penrith City Council, based in Syndey, has requested vendor support to help build a new Construction Management software solution for the Council’s design and projects team.


–Transport for NSW (‘TfNSW’) is also seeking proposals from vendors to develop a new Road Planning and Design Software Tool, supporting closer alignment between various stakeholders in planning projects, “including local councils and the community”.


Australia’s peak ICT industry body, the Information Industry Association (AIIA), has called on the Federal Government to allocate $250 million in the forthcoming Budget to support Australia’s artificial intelligence (AI) industry and provide further funding for the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy on top of the Fed’s promised $29.9 million over four years.


– Google Cloud Public Sector will set up shop in Adelaide’s new innovation and tech hub district Lot Fourteen, the SA Government has announced. The new facility will provide a base for Google Cloud’s Adelaide-based public sector team, as well as a training and event venue to support customers and partners with Google Cloud technology.


The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has announced the launch of the first phase of its oneAPS Opportunities pilot program – a trial of a visual scribing workshop with the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC). The oneAPS program, it said, offers a new approach to whole-of-government digital talent mobility.

“The program aims to help Agencies quickly deploy digital professionals to areas of greatest need, while providing the opportunity to develop capability within their own staff by allowing them to take on new work,” the DTA said in a statement.


Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Council has launched a new automated general waste collection system in Maroochydore. Waste and recyclables from buildings and street bins within the Maroochydore City Centre area will be pumped through a 6.5 km network of underground pipes to a collection station for transfer to disposal or recycling facilities. The system is set to be operational by July this year.


– The ACT Government has launched its Technology Upgrade Fund, offering community groups across Canberra grants to help upgrade IT equipment and improve digital access and literacy. Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services Emma Davidson said the grants program, with a total funding pool of $478,000, will seek to promote equitable digital access across the Territory.


– The SA and Federal Governments have jointly committed to a $10 million program to boost internet connectivity across South Australia’s Far North and Eyre Peninsula as part of the Commonwealth Government’s Regional Connectivity Program. The SA Government will invest $2.5 million in both the Wudinna Switch Up project and the Far North SA Regional Connectivity Program, with the Commonwealth adding $4.5 million to the schemes.