In 2008 the Tasmanian Information Technology & Communications Industry Development Association (known for 10 years as TasIT) is a sound, growing industry body with many achievements and with a strong future. As we celebrate 10+ years of operation it is timely to trace the Association’s development and to outline its achievement and perhaps mention some of its less successful points.
In April 1997, the Premier of Tasmania, the Hon Tony Rundle, launched the Directions Statement to ‘achieve a vision of Tasmania as a small, but full partner in the 21st century with a growing economy to provide an expanding range of interesting jobs for our young people. Information technology is an important component of the Directions Statement as it provides the infrastructure that enables the other components of the Statement to be implemented.’
Subsequently, Peter Minck, Ken Smith, Judy Liauw and David Male were invited to establish an interim consultative body which became the Tasmanian Information Technology & Telecommunications Industry Development Association (TasIT). Previously there had been no formal channels for the government to consult the industry and decisions had been based on ad hoc information.
The Tasmanian Information Technology & Telecommunication Industry Development Association (TasIT) was launched by the Premier on the 25 September 1997 to represent the interests of Tasmanian IT&T companies and businesses. The interim committee worked hard to incorporate TasIT and this was achieved on the 3rd February 1998.
TasIT’s first President was Peter Minck, of Prologic Information Systems. The strong Committee under his guidance worked tirelessly to establish the Association. The acceptance of a Constitution and its registration as an incorporated body on 3 February 1998 set the course for the future growth of the Association.
TasIT has always been funded by member subscriptions and corporate sponsorships. It is independent of government, but seeks to work cooperatively with government and government agencies in pursuit of the development of a vibrant IT industry in Tasmania, providing prosperity and increasing employment opportunities.
The aims of the Association are to develop the Tasmanian IT&T industry, by:
The first Committee was successful in establishing procedures, recruiting members and liaising with the State Government and other bodies and in general setting the Association up for future expansion. The membership drive in itself was quite an achievement as getting fledgling businesses to cooperate in an association was a bit like ‘herding cats’. It went a bit like the following “As much as I would like to, I can’t join TasIT because …XX .., my rival is in it and I don’t want to be seen with him.” Within a year or two this had changed to “I don’t know what the fuss was about; …XX… and I are rivals, but we get on well together.” In another couple of years this had changed to “We realize that the local market is too small for us and we should look outside of Tasmania, perhaps we should work together to promote our services.” This trend and other signs of cooperation have led to a much stronger, more mature and focused industry.
TasIT worked with the newly established Tasmanian Electronic Commerce Centre (TECC) and Tasmanian Business Online (TBO). President Peter Minck was invited by the fledgling TECC to contribute on behalf of TasIT to the framing of its education and training programs for industry.
In the first Annual Report for TasIT presented to the 20th November 1998 AGM, Peter Minck stressed that TasIT members need to work together to “get the messages of what we need to grow as an industry across to government and business heads.”
Some members had reservations about the Tasmanian Community Online program and the effects it may have on commercial operations, because its officers were in subsidized competition with IT companies. This was followed up by a questionnaire to all of its members and leading to the overall view that despite some immediate problems and revenue loss for some members, the long term industry view was that that the TCO program would be beneficial.
There were two retirements from the Committee, Peter Minck and Judy Liauw.
Much credit must go to Peter Minck and his Committee both for setting up the Association and for the manner in which it was done.
The first AGM held on the 20th November elected the following Committee and Office Bearers of the Association for the period Nov. 1998 to Nov. 1999:
The second Committee under President Ken Smith saw the expansion of the organization and some fairly significant changes. In many ways 1999-2000 was the pivotal year for TasIT with the employment of Dick Friend as it s Executive Officer meaning that many more activities were carried out on behalf of members. Dick took on the challenging job of raising the profile, the activity levels and the finances of TasIT. His first major task was to develop a Business Plan and budget for presentation to members.
The lack of Cabinet level representation of the IT industry in Tasmania produced the most animated discussion at the AGM and unanimous consensus: The new Premier Jim Bacon, promised in a letter to retiring TasIT President Peter Minck immediately prior to the election that his first job in government would be to appoint an IT Minister. [Note – there was an immediate response with ICT being added to the Premier’s already large portfolio. The reality was that ICT was recognized, but little real action occurred until the industry was transferred to the Minister for Economic Development.]
As a politically non-aligned organization TasIT does not express support for any party grouping, but there were some difficulties after the 1999 election. TasIT had been launched by a Liberal Premier and one of the Liberal members was the son of the President. Some in Government at first wrongly regarded TasIT as tool of the Liberal Party. Perceptions were muddied when Dick Friend, a Greens member, became a very effective Executive Officer. Fortunately after a few hiccups, these changed and good working relationship were forged with both Ministers and the Department of Economic Development.
During the year TasIT supported and conducted a number of sessions for industry members including Industry Information Session on the Education Department¹s Managed Networks Project held in Devonport, Launceston and Hobart and its members contributed to the newly formed IT Industry Council’s ‘Industry Plan’.
Business North and TasIT sponsored a forum in Launceston to bring together Major IT consumers and the local IT providers. In March 1999, TasIT ran a successful site for its members at the Government backed ICT Exhibition at Wrest Point.
The Computer Hardware & related services (C150) was a contentious issue with many members feeling that they were being disadvantaged in the process. TasIT made a favourably received submission to Treasury on Government procurement policy. TasIT supported a number of procurement reforms proposals to ensure local companies are not excluded through ignorance, unfair cash flow requirements, excessive guarantees and too large bundling of contracts.
IT Accreditation Scheme – TasIT supported the accreditation and quality standards of companies offering their goods and services in this industry. “To enhance the ability of purchasers to achieve satisfaction and have increasing confidence in local IT companies, an accreditation scheme must be introduced which defines some quality parameters, viz.
appropriate skills set demonstrated experience
financial stability reliability
response time area coverage, etc.”
Many issues were raised during the consultation stages resulting in a cancellation of the initiative. It remains an unresolved issue with many believing that a widely accepted quality assurance badge is needed for the industry. The issue was again raised during the early Intelligent Island years, but again without resolution.
IT Industry Council – TasIT supported the formation of an IT Industry Council, following a final a consultation round in late October 1999 and ITIC President Peter Gartlan ensured consultation between the two bodies. Ken smith and Greg Smith were appointed to represent Industry on the Council.
In October 1999, The Quill Consultancy became TasIT’s first Corporate Sponsor – Greg Smith and staff provided an office, meeting rooms, training programs and e-mail facility in our first major sponsorship to ensure that the momentum of employing an executive officer was maintained.
TasIT held its second Annual General Meeting on 28 October 1999, with the gratifying result that whilst nearly all the committee stood again with extra volunteers for office and committee positions. Those elected are:
1999-2000 was regarded as a year in which TasIT consolidated its position as the IT industry peak body and the benefits of hiring Dick Friend as Executive Officer were being felt.
In February 2000 TasIT made strong representations on two issues which are recurring and unfortunately have not been fully resolved in 2008 – payroll tax and broadband. “Yes Minister” responses were received, but the Telstra Broadband Project appeared to offer some promise for the future.
TasIT signed its first consultancy contract with Tasmania Development & Resources to run and obtain content for the LOOP Web site. The work was carried out by the TasIT Executive Officer, Dick Friend.
A draft submission for the accreditation of Tasmanian ICT companies was prepared for the TECC. This important issue, like payroll tax and broadband remains unresolved.
The first 6 months of 2000 saw TasIT involved in running and promoting a busy statewide schedule of seminars involving topics such as working with the Health Department, legal issues, e-commerce, software entrepreneurship, enhancing prospects for TECC funding, Tas Business Online (TBO) introduction and computer training.
A meeting was held in Launceston in March to discuss the formation of a TasIT affiliated Northern Tasmania Information Technology working group. It was attended by TasIT Committee members and a disappointing 7 local businesses.
In response to member concerns, in June TasIT made representations to the Government concerning intellectual property ownership. The government insisted in contracts that IP be owned by the Government no matter its prior ownership. TasIT’s strong response maintained that if a contract is for a fixed price, the IP rights must remain with the developer. This was eventually accepted. A suggested default clause was prepared by Lyn Rochford of Human Solutions.
The first concerns were expressed about the new Intelligent Island funds with a well grounded fear that too high a proportion of the $40 million would go to the Community Online Project and not allocated to the development of the ICT industry.
AIIA made its first contact with TasIT with the view to further cooperation and the Executive Director sought a proposal to put before the AIIA Board.
The concept of the ICT industry incubator was supported in principle, with recommendations for a member to be on it planning committee. (This happened towards the end of 2000) Some members expressed justifiable concern that the Government was happy direct funds to startup firms and refused to support the growth of operating businesses.
In addition to the formal Association activities 1999-2000 was a strong networking year culminating in the Dick Friend organized first TasIT combined barbecue lunch and Royal Tennis Christmas function.
At the well attended 14th September Annual General Meeting in the Lord Mayor’s Court Room the following committee members were elected.
Contact with AIIA continued to be a major topic for consideration, especially as the President of AIIA expressed a preference for a full merger, but also suggested that without a full merger TasIT may be able to get some support from AIIA. The AIIA suggested that $20,000 could be injected into TasIT, but that membership fees would rise to $740 pa. Later in the year it was decided not to merge with AIIA as most small TasIT members would be lost and there would be few local gains.
Issues with Government contracts continued to rise. Rob Rowell drew attention to the Committee of the bad practice of a government Department in advertising a tender to local businesses and then awarding the contract to another department who then improperly engaged a Melbourne based consultant. TasIT informed its members and framed a very strong letter of protest to the Premier, seeking rectification of the problems that government departments have with utilising the private industry.
Community Access Centres continued to be a concern for some members as again it was suggested that some were doing commercial work and were not bound by competition policies. Members were contacted and a letter of concern sent to the Premier. On 21st January 2001 the Minister for Education met a TasIT delegation and assured the group that the matter would be referred to Cabinet and a policy statement will be made.
Member accreditation was still a topic of concern and unfortunately despite more work by the Committee, it was placed in the TECC ‘too hard basket’. At that point concern was expressed about the not always appropriate influence TECC had over government ICT policy.
At the same time TasIT was establishing strong contacts with the then Department of State Development (DSD) with David Bartlett acting as the “ear” for TASIT into Government. TasIT assisted in the comprehensive audit of Tasmanian business, including the IT&AT sector, and in a range of committees and working parties associated with the new $40M Intelligent Island program. Unfortunately the enthusiasm associated with the launch of the initial Intelligent Island program gradually waned as it became obvious that decisions were taking too long to make and the money was not being adequately dispersed to the Industry. Inadequate policy guidelines in some committee resulted in some of TasIT’s members having to submit revised applications three or four times before a decision was made. Even then the Intelligent Island Board did not always ratify a committee’s recommendations. The disenchantment was not universal as the Intelligent Island took over TasIT’s role of organizing a full range of industry seminars, functions and meetings.
TasIT through Dick Friend’s involvement contributed to the LOOP project by research, new articles, editing , moderating and administering the site.
TasIT supported and was represented at meetings on the formation of the new industry incubator and involved in the decision to award it to a consortium including KPMG and Sydney’s Bluefire.
Through the good offices of Leno Taglieri, TasIT in 1998 established an enduring relationship with Telstra as a significant corporate partner and sponsor. Simultaneously TasIT became a corporate member of TCCI
TasIT also met TAFE over concerns as to the level of training and the efficacy of some IT courses. In response to members concerns of TBO a joint forum was organized and Andrew Cassidy of TBO clarified most of the points of concern to members.
Ken Smith as President suggested to the Industry Council that there be ICT Industry Awards for excellence and that these should feed into the AIIA Awards.
In early 2001 a Launceston IT networking group was convened in Launceston with Ken Smith and Dick Friend representing TasIT.
Another issue of concern was the Intelligent Island funded $5 million skills development grant committee on which there was no TasIT representative. There was concern that most of the funding would most likely be directed to tertiary institutions and not to commercial providers.
TasIT has not been free of controversy, but none so intense as that generated in March involving the Intelligent Island Skills Development Fund. It is rather serious when a Minister starts a speech in the house with “…..I have recently learned of an attempt to manufacture a Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the Intelligent Island Program. This is a story of dirty politics, intrigue and nepotism…….” One company in the process of joining TasIT and one unlikely to be invited to join TasIT, contacted the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee with concerns over the Skills Advisory Committee’s processes for the distribution of funds. TasIT circulated its bulletins to all parliamentary parties and especially to key members so many were aware of what was happening. A meeting, at the invitation of Liberal members, was called to clarify the issue. TasIT decided to canvass the issue to all members before writing an official letter to the Government. The first mentioned company ‘jumped the gun’ and wrote directly to the PAC causing a major fracas and to a certain extent damaging relationships between TasIT and the Industry Council and Government. It put huge pressure on the President and the Executive Officer who issued a press statement on the 21st March. TasIT was largely a by-stander in the whole affair.
TasIT then formed a disputes procedures sub-committee which fortunately was not required to act. A couple of months after this had all died down Roy Pallett was appointed to represent TasIT on this Skills Advisory Committee. Unfortunately the tendency of this committee to seek repeated improvements to applications for funding rendered it largely ineffective.
Working relationships with the Intelligent Island staff were good and many in-service and networking events were held in Hobart and Launceston, with the May meeting held in Launceston with members invited to attend.
In late April it became clear that, with no announcement or other indication, the President would not be continuing in his position. Greg Smith took over as acting President. Ken Smith resigned the position officially in June and remained a nominal member of the Committee until the AGM..
The membership database was completed and the formation of a strategic plan commenced.
At the Annual General Meeting 30th August held in the Telstra Boardroom the following Committee Members were elected:
After the problems of the previous year, the challenge for TasIT was to restore faith in the Association and bring together the many small and medium sized companies fragmented across disciplines and geographic regions within the State, with the aim of developing a more coherent Tasmanian ICT industry.
The first task of the Committee was to consider the format and content of a strategic plan for TasIT. More input was sought from membership and the mission statement was circulated as basis for further discussion of the plan.
In December 2001 a new logo was developed by Rob Fiddyment, new corporate colours and marketing materials were adopted.
The issue of whether to join AIIA was finally determined in the negative. The consensus was that small business members would not pay the extra fees and that we would lose more than we would gain.
Another long running issues was the protection of the Intellectual Property rights of our members when dealing with Government. The issue was finally resolved, but with the rider that we need to be alert to any future policy changes.
A serious attempt was made to develop a collective insurance scheme for TasIT Members to reduce premiums and to increase protection for companies and individuals. At the behest of two local insurance brokers a survey of members’ needs was conducted. This proved that the scheme was feasible, but because of changes in the insurance especially with HIH the scheme did not go ahead. It may be feasible in the future.
In May a meeting with the Lord Mayor resulted in the push for a Science-ICT industry cluster, with the formation of a steering committee and support from DED.
TasIT continued build its relationship with the Intelligent Island and it was finally revealed by John Hayton that the budget allocations were to be :
Repeatedly concerns were expressed both within TasIT and to outside bodies that what seemed to be Canberra’s largesse to the industry ended up funding government positions and programs as well as quangos that remained remote from industry. In some regards TasIT, in justifiably seeking to promote private industry development, was seen by some in government as a ‘bunch of whingers’.
In October the ICT industry was struck a blow with the decision to shut down the SEATas (Software Engineering Australia) Tasmanian operation. The Committee sought the transfer of the SEATas assets to TasIT to continue the program for its members. The approach was viewed favourably, but ultimately it did not occur.
The TCCI convened a significant forum to discuss information technology challenges for the future involving business and government agencies. TasIT saw this as an opportunity to bring ICT industry concerns to a wider audience. It also resulted in a project brief for a project to determine the uptake and utilization of ICT by Tasmanian firms.
During the earlier part of 2002 many TasIT members were involved in a sustained push for entry into the international e-learning market. There was considerable support for the project from DED and the Education Department. A few firms involved in this are still successfully operating in the field.
TasIT with ACS sent questions to state candidates for the election and received positive responses from the Liberals and Greens. All parties were represented at a later policy discussion forum.
The Committee sought to consolidate the TasIT secretariat and was supported by the generous sponsorship of Roy Barkas an Logica.
The Constitution was amended at the September 2002 AGM to limit the office of the President to two consecutive terms and to expand the committee to the 4 executive positions plus 5 other members (previously three) with the power to co-opt 3 extra members.
At the Annual General Meeting held on the 27th September 2002, the following Committee was elected:
In October 2002, concern was expressed over the long tem viability of the Executive Officer position as the income from membership level was down and there was not enough money to pay for both the officer and the services that TasIT was expected to offer. The unfortunate conclusion was that unless there was a membership drive or another source of funds the poison could be no more than two days a week or terminated. The Executive Officer remained in the position pending further consideration.
The issue professional indemnity insurance for Government tenders was becoming a major problem for TasIT’s members. The Government was insisting on the tendering companies having public liability policies worth 10 to a 100 times more than the value of the project. Strong representations were made to the State Treasurer to adjust the liability to a more realistic level.
The Marine Science Industry Cluster initiative made considerable progress to the point where members were invited to a meeting where 57 companies to discuss the formal formation. This meeting was chaired by the Lord Mayor and sponsored by DED.
There was much concern about the proposed Centre of Excellence in Bio-Informatics. TasIT was briefed by the interim CEO, Michelle Allen at an industry meeting at Parliament house. She conceded that much work needed to be done to identify the likely outcomes of the project. TasIT members expressed scepticism at the use of Intelligent Island funds for this purpose as local companies were likely to be excluded form the process.
In October the first moves were made to rectify a situation in which APESMA sought an industrial award for the IT industry in Tasmania, seeking to exclude TasIT from the process. With the support of the TCCI the whole process regained perspective and Rod Butler, Pieter Kolkert and Roy Pallett were charged with working with the TCCI and the unions to develop our own Award. This was a long and tortuous process, but the end result was very strong award for the Industry. The framing of the Award put paid to any remaining moves towards affiliation with AIIA as the Tasmanian ICT industry would be tied to national salaries and conditions and the career paths were based only professional qualifications. The Committee felt that greater flexibility was needed.
TasIT continued to work with the Intelligent Island to ensure the correct disbursement of funds for the Industry and to conduct networking and development seminars. All relevant Intelligent Island Committees had at least one representative either from the TasIT committee or nominated from the TasIT membership. There were distractions like the Bio-Informatics push that led to doubts among members as to whether the full benefits would be realized.
In July there was a high level meeting with Telstra officers from Melbourne and Canberra regarding broadband services. This resulted in improved relations with Telstra, but unfortunately in the long run it did result in improved broadband access for Tasmanian businesses.
The hardest decision to make was Feb 2003, when due to a lack of funds and notice to leave our office premises, the position of Executive Director had to be terminated. Dick Friend had served TasIT well in just over three years in the position.
TasIT battled along as a totally voluntary organization, but by August 2003 it was obvious that it was unable to expand its membership, its industry advocacy and general services using the voluntary labour of its members. A decision was then made in June 2003 to engage the TCCI to run its secretariat. However the actual signing of the final contract did not occur until after the AGM.
With Intelligent Island, State Government and private sponsorship, the ICT Showcase at the Wrest Point Casino on the 21st and 22nd August 2003 was the biggest ICT event held in Tasmania so far. It involved the ICT Expo and Conference and eLearning Conference. It featured strong keynote addresses, workshops, panel discussions and an ICT industry exhibition.
In August 2003, the first Tasmanian ICT Industry Achievement Awards were run at Wrest Point to highlight the ICT industry’s role as a driver of economic growth for Tasmania. TasIT had the backing of the Dept of Economic Development, Intelligent Island, the Industry Council and ACS. The Awards and the presentation dinner were regarded as the best opportunity for the Industry so far to show case its talents, providing an opportunity to market products, build relationships, raise profiles and network on a variety of levels. Lara Saunders (DED) and Roy Pallett of TasIT received strong backing from TasIT Committee and membership as well as from the aforementioned bodies. The whole Showcase and Awards event demonstrated the strength of the Tasmanian ICT Industry.
After some high and low points, the year finished solidly.
TasIT’s 2003 Annual General Meeting was held on the 22nd August at the Wrest Point Convention Centre prior to the ICT Industry Dinner and Awards Presentation. The following Committee was elected:
The 2002 amendments to the Constitution enabled the appointment of two additional committee members. At the AGM incoming president Roy Barkas sought leave to nominate:these were:
With the signing of the agreement with the TCCI, TasIT was able to resume some of the services to members that were difficult for volunteers to provide. After a few initial hiccups, this has proved to be a very sound decision.
With strong ties to TasIT, the Tasmanian e-Health Association was formed at LogicaCMG on December 4th 2003. A number of TasIT members put a lot of effort into e-Health, but largely because of the Intelligent Island uncertainties it did not meet its full potential.
The Tasmanian Industry Achievement Awards were again successful with sponsorship and support from the Department of Economic Development.
Suzi Watralthe promoted the K2B concept to TasIT members in which there was a series of training/orientation sessions for businesses and the offer of six partially sponsored graduates for placement in businesses in a marketing role.
TasIT took over the administration of the Virtual Board and earned a commission fee of 10-15% for the this role.
The matter of Government tenders again emerged as an issue. This time clarification was sought from Treasury, regarding firstly the short notice for some tenders making it more likely that the company that drew up specifications could be the only one considered. There was also concern over the awarding of a tender to the lowest price bidder who later asks for and is granted an extension of both time and price.
Quarterly meetings with Minister Lara Giddings were scheduled to discuss issues affecting the industry.
TasIT held its 2004 Annual General at the Hobart Function Centre on the 27th August. . The following Committee was elected:
With a larger Committee, TasIT was able to embark on a greater range of activities. The Virtual Board was signed but there was concern over professional indemnity and public liability for members involved in administering large public funds and advice was sought from the Crown Solicitor.
President Roy Barkas continued his efforts to effectively promote TasIT as the peak industry body to both the political and public service arms of government and increase the membership of TasIT. TasIT was much more frequently consulted on a range of issues than had been the case since its formation
After earlier representations to the Treasury regarding intellectual property rights in Government contracts a comprehensive policy paper was prepared for TasIT. This was added to a number of previous policy position papers for guiding future action by TasIT.
Negotiations with unions over the ICT Industrial Award seemed interminable, but eventually most of the issues such as designated superannuation funds were resolved and an innovative career path structure was approved. It was eventually submitted to Industrial Commission, but needed some changes before a haering could later be held.
The distribution of Intelligent Island funds remained a running sore for the industry especially as the University seemed likely to get the lion’s share of any funding that went to the now revamped TasInformatics Centre of Excellence. Concerns were expressed and a Jonathan Wood of DED gave a comprehensive briefing to TasIT’s members.
The eHealth initiative seemed to be gathering pace, with TasIT and Tas eHealth Association hosting a DED sponsored event on the impact of Health Connect on the Industry. DED then recognized eHealth as a strategic opportunity for Tasmania and conducted an eHealth that included potential ICT contributions.
As the Intelligent Island involvement in the staging of ICT industry events was scaling back, ACS president Dave Bradshaw met the Committee to discuss the ACS/TasIT joint staging of events along the lines that had been developed for the ICT Achievement Awards. The event this year was again successful with around 300 attending. The Government through DED continued to provide financial and personnel support for the Awards and the Presentation Dinner.
The government sought submissions from the Industry, individual companies and TasIT to assist in revamping the model for the disbursement of Intelligent Island funds. TasIT made a strong submission on the 1st July 2005. President Roy Barkas, who had done a lot of lobbying to regain the stalled Intelligent Island funds and mused that the $20 million funding for ICT was “…once in a lifetime opportunity to do something big and visionary.” TasIT played a vital lobbying role in ensuring that the Intelligent Island funds remained in Tasmania.
Despite some misgivings, the MAPP program was adopted, the total benefits of which will become obvious in the next 2 or 3 years. CSIRO was successful in gaining a large slice of the Intelligent Island money. The jury is still out as to how much the Information Technology Centre will be of direct benefit to Tasmanian businesses.
It is gratifying to TasIT that more and more of its member companies are successfully seeking overseas markets and are gaining national and international recognition.
The Tasmanian Information Technology Industry (July2005) Award is probably the most significant achievement of TasIT and this was accepted by the Industrial Commission after long negotiations with unions and with the assistance of the TCCI. The Industry Award is the only state based award for ICT in Australia and provides a career pathway for people involved in our industry by linking the position classification with training qualifications. This comprehensive Award covers all aspects of the ICT industry, replacing five awards that had differing wages and conditions. The committee that did the hard work was Rod Butler, Roy Pallett and Pieter Kolkert.
TasIT held its 2005 Annual General at the Royal Yacht Club on the 25th August. . The following Committee was elected:
The influence of TasIT in representing the Industry continued to grow under the presidency of Chris Boys, playing a significant lobbying and negotiating role to ensure that MAPP funds of $18 million were secured for allocation to Tasmanian ICT companies. It also worked with CSIRO to ensure that the ICT industry will benefit from the new ICT Innovation Centre.
In some ways it was unfortunate that too much of TasIT’s time and energy was taken up with preparing cases and lobbying for the retention of the remaining $28 million Intelligent Island funds for use in the ICT industry in Tasmania. On the other hand most regard TasIT’s involvement as crucial in overcoming objections from DCITA than the money be returned to Federal coffers.
The ICT Awards again proved to be successful with nearly 300 people attending the Dinner at the Grand Chancellor. Entries were again of a high quality demonstrating the increasing sophistication and power of the Industry.
The launch of the Virtual Panel and cooperation with WorkLab was a noteworthy achievement. In addition TasIT developed a good working relationship with Minister Lara Giddings and later Bryan Green as well as with DED.
TasIT members were optimistic that the laying of cables beside the gas pipelines would bring broadband services to a greater number of businesses and households.
TasIT urged the Government to adopt the Victorian policy of allowing contractors to retain ownership of intellectual property (IP), replacing uncapped liability with an evaluated approach. Victoria also implemented TasIT’s long espoused notion of leveling insurance (PI) requirements for ICT contracts to better show the actual level of risk.
TasIT further developed a series of policy positions to guide the actions and response of the Association.
The Annual General Meeting of TasIT was held at the Ball & Chain on the 16th August 2006. The following Committee was elected:
Again the Intelligent Island program occupied much of the time and energy of the Committee. The difference this year was that the money had been secured for the Industry and that businesses were much clearer on the future direction of the Industry. Meetings with DED were much more concerned with getting the process right for all concerned..
The appointment of Dr Stephen Giugni as Chief Executive of the CSIRO ICT Centre was welcomed by TasIT and productive meetings and briefings were held during the year.
The ratification of the signature of TasIT on the ICT Industrial Award Agreement had to be done at the AGM, so finally after nearly 12 months of operation all formalities were completed. An additional item at the meeting was the amendment to the Constitution so that the Immediate Past President automatically was able to remain a member of the Committee, without having to nominate.
The 2006 ICT industry dinner was smaller this year as it was agreed that with all the activity with Intelligent Island that a full awards program would place too much strain on members. The policy was a to not have Achievement Awards but to recognize individual contributions. While slightly smaller than past dinners it was a great success.
The broadband issue had still not been resolved and remained an issue throughout the life of the Committee. A synopsis of broadband services and choices in Tasmania was circulated to TasIT members in December 2006. If anything it highlighted the fragmented and inadequate nature of broadband in Tasmania. It was later reported to TasIT that data service prices had trebled prompting further approaches to Government.
TasIT further consolidated its role as the lobby group for the ICT industry over the payroll tax issues in the State Budget. It also scheduled more member functions throughout the year.
TasIT’s nominee for the MAPP Funding Committee became Chairman and provided good feedback to members. However in February TasIT publicly expressed serious concern about the delays by DED in announcing funding approvals for successful MAAP application.
TasIT was represented on the Research Investment Advisory Committee for the CSIRO ICT Centre by Past-President Roy Barkas who also chairs the committee.
The K2B project continued to flourish and those members who engaged in the project received considerable marketing benefits from the graduates.
The Virtual Panel completed its work in March 2007. Then biggest blow came with DED notification, at short notice, that support for the ICT Achievement Awards.
In 2007 payroll tax issues were an important and contentious, with TasIT’s views strongly presented to the Government. In a series of submissions. Unfortunately, while the concerns were noted by Treasurer Aird, the response was negative, despite information suggesting that up to 250 jobs could be affected.
TasIT’s representative Roy Barkas, chairs the Research Investment Advisory Committee for the CSIRO ICT Centre. The Virtual Panel successfully completed its work and then came the blow.
The year saw much progress in the operations of TasIT and the resolution of some outstanding issues, but a relauctance of government to address other mater affecting TasIT’s members.
The Annual General Meeting of TasIT was held at the CSIRO Auditorium on the 28th August 2007. The following Committee was elected:
DED, at short notice, withdrew support for the ICT Achievement Awards. TasIT, mainly through the efforts of our secretariat, Cecilia Lawler and the TCCI, ran the very successful Awards and Presentation Dinner. The success of the Awards, run at short notice without government support, attracted 300 people to the Moorilla Function Centre. This reinforced perceptions of the strength of TasIT. It also assured the event’s future and more importantly confirmed it rightfully as the Industry peak body with a strong future.
This perception of strength was further supported by the awarding by the Intelligent Island of a MAPP (Market Access and Partnership Program) grant of $250,000 towards the development of an Industry Capability Statement. Over the years TasIT has had Government grants, but none of this magnitude.
The Committee made the decision to celebrate the first 10 years of TasIT with a luncheon on the 28th February 2008. It also recommended that the new Federal Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy be invited to be the keynote speaker. This function was also designated the time for re-badging the organization. All of this demonstrates confidence in the future of the ICT Industry in Tasmania and the Tasmanian Information Technology & Telecommunications Industry Development Associations role in this future.
The history of an industry association encompasses steady advance, occasional triumphs and sporadic setbacks. Building an association to represent a major emerging industry was never going to be straight forward. The Tasmanian Information Technology & Telecommunications Industry Development Association (TasIT) was no exception.
Since its formation approximately 40 people have served on the various Committees and many others have made contributions to the running of the Association. Outlining the development of TasIT under its presidents may seem to undervalue the dedication of many Committee members. In addition, mentioning the outstanding contributions of Mike Southwell, Greg Smith, Nigel Davies and Rod Butler does not diminish the appreciated contributions of many others.
Throughout the life of TasIT the Web site has fluctuated in quality and in the amount and currency of information that it conveys has varied. This also applies to the Newsletter. This is a common factor when the control of it changes from member to member. Longer term contracts with reasonable remuneration perhaps should have been offered earlier in the life of TasIT.
The current President, Peter Gartlan inherited an organization in good shape and with a strong Committee is taking the opportunity to expand the scope of TasIT with major events, a larger membership and a confident re-badging and other initiatives.
It has not always been smooth sailing, but TasIT has played a significant and increasingly important role in the development of the Tasmanian ICT industry and acknowledges the contributions of all members and sponsors. It is gratifying to note that more and more TasIT member companies are successfully seeking overseas markets and are gaining national and international recognition.