Govtech Weekly News Wrap – 25 February, 2021

Weekly news wrap of government technology

Federal Government makes last-minute changes to media code to lure Facebook back to negotiating table; Centrelink recruits Indian tech giant to develop $40 million payments calculation engine; and Victoria to build new “vaccination management tool” with Microsoft.

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


  • A new report by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has revealed strong stakeholder support for the Federal Government’s Digital Identity legislation.


  • Victoria’s Innovation Minister Jaala Pulford has revealed a new $1.5 million investment in an AI accelerator program, Boab AI, through the Government’s innovation agency LaunchVic. The Government is also working to close a $100 million AI investment fund.



  • Australians will also soon be able to share news on Facebook again following last-minute amendments to the Federal Government’s news media bargaining code. The social media giant restored Australian government agencies’ to its pages on Thursday after they were mistakenly deleted as part of a pre-emptive removal of Australian news media content.


  • Victoria’s newly-renamed Department of Health (DH) has reportedly secured a $5.8 million contract with Microsoft for a “vaccination management tool”.


  • The Digital Transformation Agency inked 14 contracts in the last eight months for “temporary personnel services” worth a combined $20.23 million, a report by news service InnovationAus has revealed. The recruitment drive underscores ongoing concerns around staff turnover and skills retainment at the DTA, the report states.


  • The Department of Home Affairs has released a new tender request for a “portable and handheld biometric” solution for Australian Border Force staff, capable of both collecting and verifying fingerprints and facial images in situ.


  • The Northern Territory Government has launched a new online service portal for small businesses to conduct government transactions, including registering or renewing a food business, applying for a liquor licence, or applying for an ABN.


  • Stone & Chalk and AustCyber have merged. The newly merged organisation will combine the groups’ cybersecurity expertise, with hopes to improve start-ups’ access to domestic and international customers, talent, expertise and capital, the new partners said.


  • The Digital Transformation Agency’s Digital Marketplace has now had more than $2.89 billion in opportunities contracted through the portal, with 65 per cent of dollar value of contracts awarded to SMEs.


  • CSIRO, Aak Puul Ngantam (APN) Cape York Indigenous rangers and Microsoft have developed a world-first AI-infused, cloud-based system that can analyse aerial photographs of beaches to identify evidence of turtle nests and their predators.


  • More than 8.1 million households are now connected to the NBN, according to the ACCC’s Wholesale Market Indicators Report. Of these, 5.5 million are connected to higher speed tiers of 50Mbps and above.


  • The Australian Government is encouraging Australians to link their online services in readiness for the launch of “vaccination certificates”.


  • The Department of Defence has released a report on the ethical use of AI in the defence industry, based on a workshop that was held last year. The report provides “a pragmatic ethical methodology to enhance further communication between software engineers, integrators and operators during the development and operation of AI projects in Defence.”



  • The Australian Government has announced the first round of funding providing $16.5 million in grants to pay for electric vehicle fast-charging stations across Australia, part of the $74.5 million Future Fuels Package announced in the 2020-21 Budget.


  • The Australian Space Agency has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Indian Space Research Organisation to increase collaboration across space activities.


  • The South Australian Government has successfully trialled Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology. Emergency services vehicles have been fitted with technology providing real-time truck and vehicle tracking to improve fireground intelligence during bushfire emergencies.


  • The NSW Government is providing funding of $500,000 for NSW’s second R&D Innovation Districts Challenge for businesses, universities, and the CSIRO to invest in technology that could help fight Covid-19.


  • The Tasmanian Government has launched a state-wide Electric Vehicle Fast Charge Network comprised of 14 fast chargers. This network will continue to grow over time as the number of EVs increases.


  • The Australian and South Australian governments have partnered with SARTA to invest in a software package worth $450,000. This cutting-edge simulator software will help existing and learner heavy vehicle drivers navigate roads and focus on improving safety behind the wheel.