Keating warns of digital failure
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