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Bring Regulation in line with the Economic Opportunity offered by the Digital Economy in Australia

- November 17, 2013 - 1 Comment

Cisco is pleased to join the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES), the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI), the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), and Telstra as supporters of Teleworking Week by partnering to host the second annual Telework Congress which takes place tomorrow.

By Tim Fawcett, General Manager, Government Affairs & Policy, Cisco Australia

With today being the kick-off of the second annual National Telework Week, it’s the right time to reflect on progress made in Australia in relation to the digital economy.

Both Federal and State Governments are encouraging Australian businesses to embrace the digital economy, which Deloitte Access Economics estimates to be worth over $70b by 2016. However, in my opinion, Australia has a legislative and regulatory regime that is designed for a 20th century economy. And, this dichotomy is inhibiting the take up of digital economy opportunities by Australian business and government.

For example, the former Labor government set a target to get 12% of public servants teleworking at least one day a week by 2020. The Coalition believes this goal can be reached even more quickly – reportedly by 2017. However, the current regulatory regime around flexible working arrangements, OH&S and workers compensation may stifle opportunities for employers and employees to work together to deliver mobile working arrangements.

Meanwhile, Trans-Tasman Telework research launched last week by the University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society and AUT University’s NZ Work Research Institute demonstrated that employees in Australia and New Zealand want to telework with 71% of employees agreeing that teleworking has a favourable influence on their overall attitude to the job.

In my view the most important take-away from the research is the finding that productivity was rated significantly higher on a range of measures by hybrid teleworkers, with ratings up to 12 percent higher for teleworkers, suggesting a meaningful difference in output.

A review of laws and regulations by the Productivity Commission would allow government organisations around Australia to identify and appropriately reform the laws that are preventing Australian businesses from taking up the opportunities the digital economy and high speed, ubiquitous broadband offer.

Put simply, 20th century laws are preventing the take up of the digital economic opportunities of the 21st of century. This needs to change if Australia is to keep pace with other economies that are already effectively harnessing the power of the digital economy for competitive advantage.

 Tim Fawcett is General Manager of Government Affairs & Policy for Cisco ANZ and represents Cisco on the Australian Government’s Advisory Panel on Teleworking. Tim leads Cisco’s public sector engagement team and would like to see technology move to the centre of public policy development.

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  1. Interesting Article!