WA gets its first IT minister

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WA gets its first IT minister
Dave Kelly

New government makes tech a priority.

The new Labor West Australian cabinet will include the state’s first IT minister, making good on a pledge to elevate technology in government.

The Mark McGowan-led WA Labor party convincingly won government in the weekend’s state poll, demolishing Colin Barnett’s nine-year Coalition rule.

McGowan's cabinet - set to be sworn in today - includes the state's first dedicated ICT portfolio, led by Dave Kelly, a former union boss and avowed anti-privatisation campaigner.

Kelly was formerly the head of the United Voice union representing workers in WA schools, hospitals, aged care, and disability facilities.

He will now manage the government's technology activities alongside the portfolios for water, fisheries, forestry, and science.

WA Labor promised to dedicate a portfolio to technology back in July 2014, just weeks after iTnews ranked the state government the worst in the country for its approach to IT governance and technology management.

McGowan at the time said WA was “woefully behind the other states when it comes to government IT policy”.

He also pledged to set up a central IT unit and launch a whole-of-government IT strategy if he won power.

But the outgoing Coalition managed to squeeze in both initiatives in the past two years, establishing the Office of the Government CIO in April 2015 and releasing the state’s first tech strategy in May 2016.

However, the Barnett government subsequently drew criticism for under-resourcing the OGCIO from the outset, constraining the kinds of reforms the new office could plausibly achieve.

A 16-month parliamentary inquiry in September recommended that the state government bring the OGCIO’s funding in line with comparatively sized Australian governments, and guarantee its budget resourcing beyond the forward estimates.

The Barnett government did not respond to the inquiry before the election.

Labor’s Kate Doust, who oversaw technology policy as part of the shadow commerce portfolio while in opposition, has not been given a ministry in the new government.

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