IT sector ‘disappointed’ at election debate

‘They didn’t know we existed’

Benjamin Seeder – Examiner Newspaper 24.03.24

Tasmania’s leading advocate for the information technology sector (ICT) has said he is “surprised and disappointed” that issues facing the key industry have not been raised during the state election.

TasICT chief executive Steve Adermann said information technology is growing more and more critical to Tasmanians, offering those in remote areas access to all kinds of services, providing safety and communications in times of need.

More sensitive details of Australian Medibank customers have been posted on the dark web after hackers demanded to be paid a $15 million ransom but were ignored.

The sector was a major issue at the start of 2023, when a disastrous breach by Russian hackers resulted in 16,000 confidential Department of Education documents being compromised, with some published on the Dark Web.

Despite that, cybersecurity or other ICT issues did not arise during the election campaign.

“I was quite surprised and disappointed that it wasn’t talked about more, considering that the digital infrastructure in this state is not real good,” Mr Adermann said.

According to digital consultancy firm Intermedium, the Tasmanian Government ranks lower than any jurisdiction except Queensland in terms of digital readiness.

As a result of the industry’s small presence during the campaign, Mr Adermann said he wrote to all 167 candidates, detailing TasITC’s election priorities and asking for a response.

“As you can see by the replies, some didn’t even acknowledge that we existed,” he said.

He received just 15 replies, some of which were automated, including ones from Braddon candidate Felix Ellis and Labor leader Rebecca White.

“The Liberal Party, credit to them, actually developed an ICT policy,” he said.

“I hounded the Labor party for probably two or three weeks to try to get them to issue an ICT policy, but the closest ting they did was the digital inclusion policy.”

Ms White later erred by accidentally sending a draft ICT policy to her Liberal opponents.

Mr Adermann said access to IT, internet and communications became especially important following the advent of the COVID pandemic.

Improved ICT infrastructure across the state would boost Tasmanians’ access to critical services, from banking and healthcare to safety information during emergencies.

“That infrastructure is so important in levelling the playing field.

“If you live in a regional or remote area then you don’t get to use the internet like others in built up areas do,” he said.

TasICT chief executive Steve Adermann says Tasmanians and their politicians seem to have forgotten the critical role IT plays in their lives, especially after COVID. Picture by Ben Seeder