Govtech Weekly News Wrap – 8 April, 2021

Weekly news wrap of government technology

NZ urges visitors to install its Apple and Google-backed COVID Tracer app following announcement of  Aus-NZ ‘travel bubble’; Home Affairs strikes new five-year data-hosting deal with local provider, with remaining protected data to be shifted from a Chinese-owned facility by 2022; and DTA launches new Cloud Marketplace. 

Tracking the week that was in tech and digital innovation across Australia and New Zealand’s public sectors.

 The Department of Home Affairs has inked a five-year, $6.3 million data centre hosting deal with Canberra Data Centres. The move will see the department migrate its remaining unclassified and protected-level data from the Chinese-owned Global Switch facility by July 2022. The deal also follows the removal of Global Switch from the Federal Government’s data centre facilities suppliers panel.


With travel between Australia to New Zealand set to resume from 19 April, the NZ Government has urged visitors to install New Zealand’s COVID Tracer app on their smartphones. Unlike the Australian Government’s proprietary app, New Zealand opted for the Exposure Notification Framework developed by Apple and Google.


Centrelink’s online compliance intervention (OCI) program, commonly known as ‘robo-debt’, has come under the eye of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, with the independent reviewer making a total of nine recommendations and seven comments on the bungled data-matching system. The Ombud found the process “intensive” and unnecessarily “manual”, adversely impacting individuals caught up in the scheme.


As part of its ‘public cloud by default’ policy, the NSW Government has revealed plans to replace its GovDC-managed services backbone with a new, next-generation inter- and intra-data centre “fabric” known as the ‘government secure network’.


The Victorian Government has launched a $5 million Technology Adoption and Innovation Program, giving eligible SMEs grants of up to $50,000 to implement digital solutions that “improve productivity, drive growth and create jobs through a new funding program”.


The Federal Government has proposed new rules mandating identification checks for the use of social media platforms. A final report from a government-led parliamentary inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence included a recommendation that government legislate a requirement for users that open or maintain a social media platform to provide 100 points of identification. The proposal has reportedly been rejected by a range of experts.


– NSW Police has enlisted Microsoft and AWS to host a number of frontline IT solutions under its ‘Azura Cloud Project’ – a multi-vendor, protect-level hybrid cloud to support the Force’s future IT infrastructure needs.


– The NSW Government has proposed a suite of reforms to environmental planning codes which could make it easier and quicker to establish a data centre in the state. The Government noted: “Each data centre development directly contributes as much as AU$1 billion in construction and fit-out costs to the NSW economy and forms critical infrastructure for the information technology sector,” in its Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE).


– The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has announced it will lead the recruitment of nearly 180 data graduates for placements across the Australian Public Service (APS) as part of the Australian Government Graduate Program Data Stream.

The ABS noted that a single application to the Program would open the door to 24 Federal Government Agencies, including the ABS Australian Taxation Office, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Department of Health.


The Federal Government has announced the launch of its website, providing updates on the National Cabinet, the National Federation Reform Council and other intergovernmental bodies.


The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is set to launch a digital entry pass for parks across the state. Executive Director of NPWS, Andrew Nicholls said the new payment method would help reduce queues at entrance stations, ticket machines, and visitor centres. The digital passes, to be launched on 20 April, will be linked to vehicle registration, with the NPWS using number plate recognition technology to confirm entrance fees had been paid.


– The QLD Government has announced its new COVID-Safe check-in app will be mandatory for most hospitality businesses across the state from 1 May. “One month on from its official launch,” the Government said, “[the app] has proven extremely popular with Queensland businesses and patrons, with more than 13,500 businesses registered and more than 3.8 million check-ins by patrons.”


– Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has announced the launch of its whole-of-government Cloud Marketplace to accommodate new cloud licensing models and changing public sector demands, overhauling the Government’s half-decade old Cloud Services Panel.