Keat­ing warns of dig­i­tal fail­ure

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID UREN ECO­NOM­ICS ED­I­TOR

Paul Keat­ing says dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties for eco­nomic re­form greater than those of the 1980s and 90s, or the open­ing of China to the world, but they are be­ing ig­nored by the govern­ment and busi­ness lob­bies.

The for­mer prime min­is­ter says tech­nol­ogy has the po­ten­tial to trans­form the de­liv­ery of gov- ern­ment ser­vices, just as it is re­shap­ing en­tire in­dus­tries.

Ad­dress­ing the Cen­tre for Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment of Aus­tralia in Syd­ney last night, Mr Keat­ing con­demned what he said was the lim­ited re­form am­bi­tion of the Busi­ness Coun­cil and the cur­rent govern­ment, with their fo­cus on com­pany tax cuts and penalty rates. “Peo­ple talk about re­form as though you could dial it up if only you could re­mem­ber the num­ber or the pre­fix,” he said.

He added that the cur­rent govern­ment was re­peat­ing the fail­ures of Lib­eral gov­ern­ments of the 60s and 70s, “gen­tly do­ing noth­ing other than gen­teel sub­si­dence”.

Mr Keat­ing said tech­nol­ogy was chang­ing every as­pect of life.

“We are mov­ing into a way more lat­eral, in­ter­con­nected col­lab­o­ra­tive world — one that does not re­spond or in­ter­act with a man­age­rial hi­er­ar­chy.”

Tech­nol­ogy was al­ready bring­ing down mo­nop­o­lies and break­ing mar­ket bar­ri­ers while in­creas­ing con­sumer choice and com­pe­ti­tion, and pro­duc­ing lower prices.

“The wider phase, the grander phase, where even larger gains are to be had, is in the heav­ily govern­ment-in­flu­enced ar­eas of health, aged care, ed­u­ca­tion and con­sumer ser­vices. With the use of big data, it is pos­si­ble to make the de­liv­ery of these ser­vices smarter, less costly, more tac­tile and more friendly to the con­sumer.

“The same ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence should be ap­plied in the ef­fi­ciency of health de­liv­ery, ed­u­ca­tion, our road and trans­port sys­tems, and the gen­eral op­er­abil­ity of our cities.

“These are the re­form hori­zons we should be con­cen­trat­ing on, and not the dross handed down from the Busi­ness Coun­cil or the Fi­nan­cial Re­view with the Holy

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