Often the development of a new government web site is top-down: leaders decide that they need a new site, and then the work slowly begins. But two public servants in Western Australia have come up with an alternative way of pushing forwards their government’s digital delivery. Their new project, Ready Steady Gov, provides free web templates based on an open source CMS so that any agency can quickly upgrade their web site, for free.
Australia is upgrading its 30 year old welfare payments system to encourage more people to transact online and to cut the cost of administering payments. Changes to the system, which manages welfare payments to retirees, job seekers, families and the disabled, will allow it to share data with other agencies in real-time, so that citizens don’t have to provide information twice, said Minister for Human Services Marise Payne. For instance, students will not have to update the government when they graduate from school or change jobs, the Department of Human Services said.
Australian satellite company NewSat has been placed into court-appointed administration in a bid to save its $600 million flailing Jabiru-1 satellite project. NewSat’s secured creditors today appointed PPB Advisory as administrators and McGrathNicol as receivers. Both have been tasked with taking control of NewSat’s assets, urgently assessing its financial position and progressing recently commenced capital raising activities as an immediate priority.
ATM giant NCR is taking the money machine to the cloud with a new Android OS thin-client system it is billing as the biggest change to the ATM since the machine was invented 50 years ago. The company claims its new Kalpana software will reduce the cost of operating ATMs by up to 40 percent and make them more secure. It also today launched a new thin-client ATM, featuring a 10-inch touchscreen and integrated biometrics and cameras.
Telstra will discontinue the Pacnet brand after today announcing the completion of its $857 million takeover of the cable operator and telecommunications provider. Two days before Christmas last year Telstra revealed its intention to acquire the company and therefore gain access to Asia’s largest privately-owned submarine cable network. It today announced the deal had been completed after meeting the majority of conditions, regulatory and financier approvals.
Telstra will switch on 1500 additional hotspots as part of an extension to a trial of its proposed national wi-fi network before June, the telco announced today. Last May the telco revealed plans to spend more than $100 million to build a national wi-fi network before the end of 2015. The network is slated to include around 8000 Telstra-built hotspots (utilising the national payphone network) and a further 1.9 million wi-fi access points provided by its customers.
The law firm behind a series of class actions against Australia’s top three telcos over late payment fees has put the legal action on hold pending the outcome of a similar court battle against ANZ Bank. Steven Lewis, principal solicitor for ACA Lawyers, which intended to launch separate actions against Vodafone, Telstra and Optus, said the outcome of a late payment fee case against ANZ would influence its decision on whether to continue to pursue the carriers.
Verizon has expanded its cloud offering in Hong Kong, Melbourne and Singapore. The new services are designed to meet the demand for secure, enterprise-grade cloud capabilities as opportunities for multinational companies in the region grow. The enhancements offer customers improvements in memory, storage and network uptime, as well as enhanced flexibility and control. Verizon Cloud customers can now request a specific amount of computing, memory and storage capacity, in addition to the existing preset virtual machine configurations.
NSW residents should be able to pay for a licence renewal or parking fine with PayPal, Apple Pay from their smartphone, or streamlined credit card payment processes like Visa Checkout within 12 months. NSW Minister for Finance and Services Dominic Perrottet today announced the state government would integrate the modern payment capabilities into Service NSW’s new whole-of-government payments platform.
The NSW public sector is expected to soon gain access to Microsoft’s entire cloud suite, including Office 365, under refreshed statewide buying arrangements. The state government is currently in contract negotiations with the software giant ahead of the May 31 expiration of NSW’s existing whole of government Microsoft licensing deal. Procurement officials are hoping to ink a new arrangement in its place that will provide “best value for money and flexibility for all agencies” through access to consumption-based pricing and cloud services, according to the state’s procurement office.
While much attention has been focused on how much the owners of Dallas Buyers Club might demand Australian pirates pay for sharing their film online, a new option has emerged: ‘name your price’. According to Channel News Asia, the first batch of demand letters sent by Dallas Buyers Club to 77 of 500 alleged pirates in Singapore did not demand a particular sum. Instead, the letters asked “for a written offer of damages and costs within three days of receipt”. Lawyers said they had already started receiving offers.
Canberra has ruled out the privatisation of Centrelink’s payments processing engine, vetoing one of the key IT recommendations of its National Commission of Audit. On Friday Human Services Minister Marise Payne and Social Services Minister Scott Morrison announced that Cabinet had formally signed off on the replacement of Centrelink’s workhorse Income Support Integrated System (ISIS), which has processed Australian welfare payments since the 1980s.
Telstra and NBN Co have settled a pricing dispute worth $200 million out of court after pulling out of scheduled court hearings this week. A Telstra spokesperson today confirmed the pair had reached a “commercial resolution” on when the consumer price index for payments covered by the 2011 definitive agreements should kick in. The difference between the dates at which NBN Co and Telstra argue the CPI should apply is worth around $200 million. The Telstra spokesperson declined to comment on how the issue had been resolved.
The Australian Government has announced it will officially go ahead with a $1 billion project ro replace the 1980s mainframe-driven IT that processes national Centrelink payments. The Centrelink IT conundrum has played out on the public stage for the past six months as a chorus of government ministers offered their support to the proposal. Last October the Government commenced a large-scale review into the welfare system to decide whether to proceed with an estimated $1 billion to $1.5 billion replacement.
Australia’s new e-government unit, the Digital Transformation Office, has set out criteria that digital services right across government must meet before they are launched. The criteria, which were adapted from the UK Government’s Digital by Default standards, will apply to all new services and existing ones with more than 50,000 transactions per year. The DTO’s first requirement is that agencies research and understand user needs when they are designing services.
Australia is bucking global trends, as Gartner projects global IT spending to shrink to US$3.66 trillion in 2015, a drop of 1.3 per cent. Spending on technology products and services in Australia is forecast to grow to $78.7 billion in 2015 (from $75.6 billion), an increase of 4.2 per cent on last year. Gartner attributed the shrinking worldwide IT spend to the rising US dollar, but claimed it isn’t a crash -even though it looks like one.
VMware has launched the locally hosted VCloud Air for Australian customers. The service, now in general availability for local customers, helps address some of final hurdles in moving them to the the Cloud. This initial VMware vCloud Air deployment in Australia is hosted out of a Telstra connected datacentre, which addresses local compliance and data locality concerns. It is built on VMware vSphere and offers two distinct infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) compute offerings – Dedicated Cloud and Virtual Private Cloud.
NBN Co and Telstra are attempting to resolve a disagreement over how much NBN Co should pay for access to Telstra’s pits, pipes, ducts and exchanges out of court. Last July Telstra won its case against NBN Co over when the consumer price index (CPI) for payments covered by the pair’s 2011, $9 billion definitive agreements should kick in. It had taken NBN Co to the NSW Supreme Court in late 2013, arguing that the CPI, which is refreshed each year in January, should apply for payments effective from January 1 2012, given that the NBN Co contract was signed in 2011.
Australia’s telecommunications industry has called on the federal government to channel its ‘fragmented’ approach to cyber security into one lead agency, but recommended against that body being spy agency ASIO. The Government is currently conducting a review of its six-year old national cyber security strategy to keep up with changes to the technological landscape.
SYDNEY: Global technology giants Apple, Google and Microsoft defended their corporate tax structures at an Australian parliamentary hearing, rebuffing allegations they were designed to shift profits offshore to avoid paying taxes. The three firms also told the upper house Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance, which held its first day of hearings in Sydney, that they were among 12 technology companies being audited by the Australian Taxation Office.