LAGGING INVESTMENT HURTS TASMANIAN DIGITAL ECONOMY AND JOBS

The growth of Tasmania’s digital economy is being held back by the combined inaction of Federal and State Liberal Governments.

Tasmania has the potential to be a national innovation hotspot, but underinvestment in regional innovation, growing digital inequality and the rollout of a sub-par version of the National Broadband Network (NBN) is hurting the state.

 

Today Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Husic visited Hobart with Tasmanian Senator Helen Polley and State Shadow Minister for the Shadow Economy Madeleine Ogilvie to hear from digital leaders in Tasmania.

 

Innovation helps generate new firms and new jobs in our regional economies. The innovative drive of regional innovators has helped inject more than $19 billion into the Australian economy and start-ups could create 500,000 jobs across Australia in the near future.

 

Tasmania’s future lies in a growing digital economy. As automation and technological change impacts on employment markets, investing in the digital economy will be a vital source of new stable jobs. Liberal governments in Hobart and Canberra have been taking few steps to prepare for this.

 

Tasmania should be better placed to make the most of the faster internet speeds the NBN brings. But Tasmanian Liberals have failed to show they have the vision to grow the Tasmanian tech sector and have withheld funding for key areas such as digital literacy, regional innovation and fast internet speeds.

 

The Turnbull Government continues to offer little in the way of support for entrepreneurs in the regions around Australia. In the recent Federal Budget Turnbull Government pulled back from regional incubator funding, which is a vital investment for regional economies that are trying to make the most of the opportunities in the digital economy.

 

Considering this it's sadly no surprise that the 2017 Telstra Digital Inclusion report again ranked Tasmania last in Australia, with little prospect of this changing in the current environment.

 

Today we heard first hand from group of smart firms about the disparity of internet services and how a lack of digital skills this will slow the growth of the local economy.

 

Labor has worked with key stakeholders to identify steps we can take to ensure everyone has access. Ms Ogilvie said only Tasmanian Labor has a vision for an inclusive digital economy and community.

 

“We are working with leading communications companies, developing our policies to close the digital divide here in Tasmania. Our 'Start up State' approach supports key digital initiatives - from our Hobart based STEM development, filmmakers, through to Internet of Things projects.

 

“We have been actively developing global relationships with digital entrepreneurs and investors and local industry is interested in establishing a hi-tech high school for Tasmania, focused on digital technology skills development.”

 

The Hodgman Liberal Government’s recent budget didn’t invest in digital literacy or education for Tasmania. Four years in and this government still doesn’t understand that Tasmania’s future prosperity relies upon a thriving digital economy.

 

Federal and State Labor will be working closely together to develop policies to tackle digital inequality, lift the digital skills base of the state and ensuring regional innovation can spur on the growth of new firms and new jobs.