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Wednesday, 18 November 2015 05:51

DTO snubs advice from peak industry bodies Featured

Laurie Patton, CEO, Internet Australia Laurie Patton, CEO, Internet Australia

The Government’s much vaunted Digital Transformation Office (DTO) closed door policy is rankling peak industry bodies that want access to the agency.

Laurie Patton, CEO Internet Australia (IA), the peak body representing Internet users claims a number of civil society and industry groups are apparently finding the door to the DTO firmly shut or are being left out of the loop when it comes to stakeholder engagement.

“We asked for a meeting and were told to come back next year”, Patton said. “They said they were too busy to see us”.

He believes the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the peak body representing all consumers on communications issues, also had appointments ‘bumped’ to next year because the DTO is “too busy”.

[At the time of writing this ACCAN was unable to be contacted for comment.]

“Expert organisations such as ourselves will be better able to assist if we’re involved from the outset, in the formative stages of the DTO's operations, rather than down the track when their plans and initiatives have been locked in,” Patton said.

“Our concerns were raised when a visiting expert from the UK highlighted the downside from the work of the UK DTO. “The message was that they’ve ended up with a two-class system. It’s fine for people who have access to the Internet and are digitally savvy, but disadvantaged groups and individuals who are not connected are now struggling to get access to essential government services”. “

IA approached the DTO offering to provide advice and assistance to ensure that everyone benefited and nobody was left behind as a result of its work.

“We’ve made several attempts to talk to Paul Shetler, the new CEO since he arrived earlier in the year. We simply want to make sure that the community’s interests are taken into account and that this doesn’t just turn into a cost saving exercise for government departments.”

Speaking today at the 17th Australian Computer Conference for Seniors in Sydney, Patton highlighted the importance of the Internet.

Internet access is about to become a high profile issue in 2016, which has been declared the National Year of Digital Inclusion, an initiative support by IA.

IA believes that wide ranging consultation with key stakeholder groups will be critical if we are to use the Internet as a means of maintaining and advancing our way of life.

“We’ve seen recently in the case of the flawed data retention scheme how wrong it can go when government agencies develop things without consultation," said Patton.

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