Australia and the Digital Divide in the G20 and the OECD

Australia and the Digital Divide in the G20 and the OECD

The cost of data collection, storage and processing continues to decline and equally dramatically Governments including in Australia, seem to lose control. In recent history, the CENCUS FAIL episode was by far the most shocking, given no one ever lost their job by heiring IBM, but equally the recent focus on cybercrime did not prevent the Ransom ware instalment.

Life is going digital

Social and economic activities are increasingly migrating to the Internet. This includes political campaigns and voting systems. Now we have an environment of constant suspicion of fake news and hacking from state actors. Publicly suspected are our long-time enemies like Russia and China, both of which have moved away from pure communism, when at the same time, we try to save the world since the GFC with better cooperation and economic efficiencies at the G20 level; where both play an important part.

We officially tend to agree with the G20, OECD and other international organisations that technologies, smart applications and other innovations in the digital economy can improve services and help address policy challenges in a wide range of areas, be it health, or even agriculture and more. Information and communication technologies contribute to more rapid change everywhere but are tools used by us. So, we must look for better ways, that means challenging our most basic assumptions. Suggestions such as taxing robots like people for example seem counterproductive to me, there needs to be better ways to share real created wealth. Having a base income and then decide what to do with one’s life seems more empowering. At the same time, it will ensure basic services are there for all and no one becomes impoverished to the degree where they get excluded from the mainstream of society. A debate that rages in countries like Australia and Great Brittan particularly about all types of education. Be prepared for a fiery debate in the Australian Parliament on resumption of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment (Charges) Amendment (Annual Registration Charge) bills. This hot on the heels of Careers Australia abruptly been placed into voluntary administration with maybe 1,000 staff stood down immediately without pay, leaving many students stranded.

Digital road kill

Like students at Careers Australia, most people do not experience a positive G20 outlook, over a decade in a well-received fashion, as it takes too long to remember. In the short term, as here in Australia, these changes are experienced as painfully disruptive, with very personal and directly far-reaching effects. Including personal self-esteem, employment and well-being. The opportunities for businesses (especially SMEs) are not directly realised by workers. Resulting at least in the short term in further increasing gaps in access and use of opportunities, the result is new digital divides and greater inequality.

Is digital engagement the solution

It is essential that G20 economies such as Australia invest in the development of digital infrastructures to meet existing and future demand. This includes the context of Industry 4.0, a national debate we should desperately have especially in view of the Finkel Report on our national power supply. The G20 call for an examination of key barriers to the deployment of high-speed networks and services including the nature of the infrastructure itself (monopolies, duopolies), which can give rise to high barriers to entry. In addition, geography, administrative barriers, regulatory uncertainty, and high capital expenditure, access to spectrum, and in some countries, a lack of basic infrastructure (e.g. electricity) particularly in rural areas, can be stumbling blocks. That sound all too familiar in Australia? We need to act local but think global, after all we only have one planet and digitally we are all next door.


Do you like the digital goals of the G20                             Yes/No

Should Australia be a more prominent G20 member           Yes/No

G20 positive for Australia China relationship                      Yes/No