GovTech Weekly News Wrap – 21 May

Tracking the latest tech developments and digital innovations through the week across Australia and New Zealand's government sectors. 
 

Australia

The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit is finalising a wide-ranging inquiry into Australia’s cyber resilience and defence capabilities based on two Auditor-General reports: Implementation of the My Health Record System and Cyber Resilience of Government Business Enterprises and Corporate Commonwealth Entities. The inquiry concludes on 27 May. 

The Federal Government has introduced legislation to slash payment times to small businesses under Covid-19 duress. The Payment Times Reporting Bill 2020 covers around 3,000 large businesses (payers), including foreign companies and some government enterprises. 
 
The WA Joint Standing Committee on the Corruption and Crime Commission has ramped calls for ‘open contracting’, supporting it says a competitive procurement environment while “restoring trust in government” and minimising corruption. 
 
The Federal Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre has launched a Covid-19 Manufacturer Response Register platform to connect manufacturers, suppliers, and customers to crucial PPE supplies. The self-managed platform pools a database of more than 3,000 local businesses, allowing them to track upcoming expressions of interest for PPE equipment. 

The Federal Government has earmarked $37.1 million to boost resiliency across regional telecommunications infrastructure in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires.

The University of Sydney has launched a new $4 million 'Clinical Data and Analytics Platform (CDAP)', which provides real-time information for frontline medical workers treating Covid-19 patients.

The ACCC is seeking submissions for a Mandatory News Media Bargaining Code that prescribes what bigtechs like Facebook and Google should pay when using Australian news content. The new code is expected to be published before the end of July this year. 

New guidelines to improve telephony services across remote and regional Australia have been unveiled by Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety, and the Arts, Paul Fletcher. The guidelines will support telcos in improving services for regional customers. The Government has allocated $2 million to fund new trials under an earlier $220 million Stronger Regional Digital Connectivity package.

Australia’s eSafety CommissionerJulie Inman Grant, has been recognised as Webby Honouree in acknowledgement for Commission’s world-leading online safety hub, www.esafety.gov.au, launched last October.

The Victorian Government, through its startup agency LaunchVic, has earmarked $1.16 million, in addition to more than $10 million from ‘angel’ groups, to support early-stage startups across the state through the coronavirus pandemic.

SA Health has, within a single week, deployed Microsoft Teams to support more than 40,000 staff through the pandemic with remote working tools. The health agency partnered with Microsoft and SA’s Office for ICT and Digital Government to help deploy the teleconferencing service. 

Privacy protections for COVIDSafe contact tracing app have been enshrined in law. The Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Bill cleared the Senate without amendments last Thursday, two days after it was introduced by the Government. 

The Digital Transformation Agency has released the source code for its COVIDSafe app via GitHub. DTA has, however, refrained from releasing code for the COVIDSafe's National Information Storage System on privacy grounds. 

The WA Government will introduce a new legislative procurement framework to, it says, streamline tendering, simplify and improve flexibility in procurement, and improve the integrity of public sector procurement. The legislation will replace the existing State Supply Commission Act 1991. 

The Department of Defence has announced a “high-risk, high-payoff" satellite communications (SATCOM) research ventureintegrating laser-based optical and radio frequency (RF) communications technologies into a single SATCOM user terminal, which it says will “enhance military capability”.  

WA's Department of Finance will fast-track the payment of invoices from government entities to support businesses through Covid-19 shutdowns. From 1 May Government entities will be required to ensure a 20-day turnaround for the payment of invoices under $1 million.

The Federal Government has released policy objectives for allocating two spectrum bands (850 MHz expansion band and 900 MHz), supporting the progressive deployment of 4G and 5G technologies.

Infrastructure South Australia (ISA) has released an independent infrastructure strategy, including investments in roads, education, health and other essential services.

The Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces have staged a joint hackathon, in an effort to strengthen sovereign supply chains. The online #ANZDFhack event, held between 15 to 17 May, sought to uncover strategies to mobilise Defence resources in response to crises or threats.

The State Library of NSW has launched a new community repositoryThe Diary Files, providing an online portal for community members to share stories, poems, lyrics, thoughts and reflections during the Covid-19 pandemic.  


New Zealand

The NZ Ministry of Health has released its NZ COVID Tracer app. Unlike Australia's version, which tracks contacts through phones' Bluetooth function, users of NZ's contact tracing app must actively flag their location using QR codes displayed at the entrances to business premises and public buildings.