Ministers from the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments met in Adelaide today for the seventh Ministerial meeting of the Online Council.
JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT
Friday 30 June 2000
Governments were represented by:
|Commonwealth Senator the Hon Richard Alston (chair of Council)
||Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the
|Senator the Hon Ian Campbell
||Parliamentary Secretary to Senator Alston
||The Hon Dr Michael Armitage MBBS, MP Minister for Government
Enterprises and Minister for Information Economy
|New South Wales
||The Hon Kim Yeadon MLA Minister for Information Technology,
Minister for Energy, Minister for Forestry, and Minister for Western Sydney
||The Hon Marsha Thomson MLA Minister for Small Business, Minister
for Consumer Affairs
||The Hon Hendy Cowan MLA Deputy Premier Minister for Commerce
and Trade; Regional Development; Small Business
||The Hon Dr Richard Lim MLA
||Mr Michael Cook General Manager, Department of Communications
and Information, Local Government and Planning
|Australian Capital Territory
||Ms Roslyn Hughes Senior Director, ACT Chief Minister's Department
||Ms Maria Jeffries Project Manager, Department of Premier and
|| Cr John Ross President, Australian Local Government Association
The meeting provided an important opportunity for governments to work cooperatively, and develop national approaches to assist communities participate in the burgeoning information economy.
GUIDELINES FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE .gov.au domain
The Council endorsed a set of guidelines for the administration of the .gov.au domain. Ministers agreed that the guidelines will facilitate the management of the .gov.au namespace and also provide for consistency in domain name administration across Commonwealth, State and Territory jurisdictions.
The guidelines will be used to determine the eligibility and the allocation of names within the .gov.au domain. Australian government departments, agencies or statutory bodies defined by an Act of Parliament or government regulation are eligible to apply for .gov.au domain names. The guidelines also provide further clarification and direction on how to structure the names within the .gov.au domain. Creation of a database is being investigated so that each jurisdiction will be able to extract a list of its registered domain names.
COMMON MINIMUM WEBSITE ACCESS STANDARDS
The Council agreed to the adoption of the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as the common best practice standard for all Australian government websites. This decision should ensure that people with disabilities or technical constraints can use online resources provided by Australian governments. The Guidelines are widely recognised internationally, and have the support of Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, disability groups and rural groups.
Adoption of common standards by all Australian governments will promote the confidence of users in online services, and the accessibility of online government information and services. The guidelines set out ways to present information which will enhance access, for example, by providing website material on a text only basis to facilitate the use of screen readers by those with visual impairments, and reducing the use of graphics to enhance download times.
Affordable access to telecommunications by all Australians is a high priority for all Australian governments. The Council's Regional Telecommunications Working Group has focused on improving coordination between the three tiers of government, and has worked jointly on key projects. The Council supported the Working Group's proposal to conduct a series of case studies around Australia and overseas, and to develop a regional telecommunications models toolkit.
The toolkit will contain practical information to assist regional and rural organisations improve access to telecommunications services for their communities. The information will be widely disseminated to regional communities, to enable a much broader appreciation among regional decision makers of the opportunities offered by these new telecommunications models, and the issues associated with their implementation.
The Council also supported the decisions to tender for untimed local calls and untimed Internet access in extended zones, and the proposed USO contestability trials.
ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF E-COMMERCE
Council members noted the results of the Commonwealth's recently released study into the impacts of e-commerce on the economy. E-commerce beyond 2000 is the first research of this type undertaken in the world. It concludes that e-commerce will bring substantial net benefits to the Australian economy, with an estimated 2.7 per cent increase in the gross domestic product by the year 2007.
IT&T SKILLS SHORTAGES
The Council agreed to continue to work collaboratively in assisting Australia's IT&T industries to meet the demand for skilled staff. They undertook to meet with their respective education and training counterparts to develop cooperative measures across governments for addressing IT&T skills shortages.
GOVERNMENT DATACASTING SERVICES
Council members acknowledged the potential of digital broadcasting to expand delivery of government services to Australian households. The Council agreed to establish a working group to investigate government access to datacasting services.
Media contact: Sasha Grebe, Senator Alston's Office, 0409 445 246
Celia Hevesi, Council Secretariat, 0414 616 765