Engaging All Levels of Government
As noted, the digital economy touches all aspects of Australia's economic and social fabric. Importantly, it can also improve service delivery to regional and rural Australia. Consequently, it is important to ensure that the Australian Government liaises with state and territory governments to coordinate strategies to drive digital economy growth throughout the country.
The Online and Communications Council (OCC) operates as the peak ministerial forum across governments to consider and reach agreement on strategic approaches on information and communications issues of a national importance. The OCC is chaired by the Australian Government Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, with the Minister for Finance and Deregulation chairing the e-government items (in view of his portfolio responsibility for e-government). Membership includes senior ministers from state and territory governments and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).180
In December 2008, the OCC released the Framework for the collaborative development and use of broadband in Australia—a first for Australia as it outlines a national commitment to broadband collaboration and cooperation between all tiers of government. Strategic priorities for the Council include broadband availability, take-up and usage; regional and Indigenous communications, including digital inclusion; digital economy; online environment, including online security and privacy; e-government (currently referred to as Connected Government); ICT capacity, capability and skills; environmental matters; and implications of technology developments. The priority work will be taken forward by the Council's groups. Members agreed that the Council, through its recently established Digital Economy Group, is best placed to progress cross-jurisdictional issues raised in this paper.181