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Thursday, 05 February 2009 15:01

ACS says economic stimulus package neglects ICT industry, risking Australia's global competitiveness

By Staff Writers
In the wake of the Australian Government’s latest economic stimulus package, there’s been a call today from the Australian Computer Society, the representative body for ICT professionals, for government action to support the digital economy and ICT R&D in order to further stimulate the economy and ensure Australia’s ongoing global competitiveness.

ACS chairman, Kumar Parakala said the government’s stimulus package announced yesterday had “failed to recognise the potential of the ICT industry, which can stimulate employment in all sectors of the economy.

“With adequate investment, the government’s own figures estimate that the ICT industry will increase service industry growth by 35-65% due to technological factors, and between 45-75% in manufacturing industries."

Parakala said the call was made by the ACS in light of the exclusion of ICT related strategies in the government’s stimulus package and wide acknowledgment that technology is a driver of productivity growth in Australia.

“Recent figures from Austrade indicate that only 3% of our SMEs export their goods and services, suggesting that, given the right incentives and stimulus, our participation in the global digital economy could significantly improve.”

In strong criticism of the government, the ACS maintained that it was “not sufficient to boil ICT down to broadband and a strategy to provide a laptop per child.” Instead, the society said a digital economy strategy and re-investment in ICT R&D, ICT innovation and venture capitalist incentives were essential to stimulate the industry and the economy.

While welcoming the government’s initiatives to stimulate the economy, Mr Parakala said that what was required was a whole of government approach and a focused strategy, followed by execution to get quick wins.

Noting that the US, UK and other developed nations had already clearly defined digital economy blueprints and strategies, Mr Parakala urged the government to give leadership and direction and “to focus on execution and tangible outcomes to reinvigorate our economy, and harness the power of the digital economy.

“If the Government continues to fail to see the opportunities the digital economy has in revitalising Australian productivity, exports and growth, we risk falling further behind in the global digital economy.”

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