After a summer of intensely negative reaction from the public over Centrelink’s disastrous automated debt notices scheme, two government backbenchers bizarrely decided this week it would be time to congratulate the government on its digital agenda and for “fixing” Centrelink. MP for Fisher Andrew Wallace moved a motion on Monday in the Federation Chamber congratulating the government’s technology reform agenda and actions the government was taking to renew ageing Centrelink IT.

Then new MP for Mackellar Jason Falinski got up to congratulate the Digital Transformation Agency, an agency that has not much to show for its two years in operation, and whose former CEO left under a cloud and now strongly criticises the government on its digital policy. Labor’s spokesman on the digital economy Ed Husic was having none of it:

“My question to the Deputy Speaker is, is there a provision in the standing orders for either irony or grand self-delusion? Because that is the only way this resolution can be debated here now. You cannot be serious! It is such a bizarre resolution.”

Husic said that DTA had essentially become a think tank in government, and due to its own internal warfare, it was not actually doing any of the digital transforming it was designed to do. Husic dared the two Coalition MPs to post their speeches on their Facebook pages to see what reaction they got from the public. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both MPs — who often upload their speeches to Facebook — have not done so yet.

Peter Fray

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