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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 879


Senator POLLEY (Tasmania) (20:13): I rise to discuss the local economy, education and innovation in my home state of Tasmania. Tasmania continues to strive and succeed in innovation thanks to previous investments by state and federal Labor governments into education.

This evening I want to outline the important work of LiveTiles, an information technology business which is kicking goals not only in my home state but also across the globe. To demonstrate just how fast the success of LiveTiles has been in a very short time, LiveTiles has expanded its marketing team from four people to over 40 in the last few months. The company is headed up by now New York based CEO Karl Redenbach and chief financial officer Matt Brown. The company was originally founded in Australia but has since diversified and is working out of offices across the globe. The company is focused on product design and customer innovations, specialising in problem-solving IT applications and also including holographic and virtual reality technology.

The company is committed to positive outcomes for Tasmanians with its research and development base in Hobart. The company wants to continue a strong relationship with Tasmania because Simon Tyrrell, their technical guru, is based in Hobart. During a recent visit, I was fortunate enough to meet with Mr Tyrrell and to hear about their exciting plans. Mr Tyrrell and LiveTiles are acutely aware of the opportunities that exist in my home state. There is so much opportunity for the company to thrive and for Tasmanians to take advantage of a company that is committed to Tasmania and its way of life.

The fast pace at which this company is moving is staggering. Late last year the company was set to sign a business deal with one of the United States largest multinational retail stores, Walmart, and has contracts with the Dallas Cowboys and the US Marine Corps. The company is committed to creating better efficiencies within organisations so it has truly global reach. The company is also listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

LiveTiles is also growing extremely quickly in Tasmania and has a positive vision to invest in a further 50 jobs in my home state. The company has a long-term strategy that starts with investing in people with a passion for problem solving and creativity. LiveTiles understands the importance of finding people who are passionate about innovation, and that is why it has started an identification and mentoring program for young people. LiveTiles intends to mentor young Tasmanians to work in the IT industry.

The organisation is committed to collaboration with Tasmanian colleges, including Don College and Rokeby College. Currently, these colleges, in conjunction with LiveTiles, are running innovative thinking labs and working with students to brainstorm ideas to encourage creative-thinking and problem-solving thought processes. They are also working with other students to help them design and build apps. LiveTiles understands the importance of education and collaboration, which is why it is also working with TasTAFE and the University of Tasmania to create opportunities for young people interested in the technology space.

A particular focus is being placed on attracting young people to the IT sector with their outreach program which aims to ensure there are plenty of young people inspired to make the IT sector their future career path. It is crucial that these students are targeted early to sustain a creative focus and a thinking-outside-the-square perspective. The values which LiveTiles strive towards are built upon a strong work ethic committed to problem solving. Interested students must also be loyal and resilient to work in a sector that is always changing. Above all though, students must be passionate and creative.

Labor is continually talking about the importance of investing in STEM—science, technology, engineering and maths. People wanting to work in the IT sector must also be artistic and creative, and therefore LiveTiles is now talking about the importance of STEAM, which embraces the concept of the arts under the STEM banner. In a world which is increasingly competitive, it is fundamental that companies like LiveTiles attract the best free thinkers.

I am of the view that, if Tasmania can emphasise the importance of building a pool of talent that the IT sector can utilise, it will not only allow for the creation of well-paid jobs for young people, but also lead to a new generation of young people who can solve difficult problems now and into the future. We must also utilise vocational training, because it allows for the training of the newest practical skills that can be applied in the workplace from the outset of a person's career.

A youthful, committed workforce that is driven to create and help people solve problems at a local level is very exciting. For example, how do we solve the problem of access to health care for people in remote areas across the country? It is something that we must solve and so the focus must be engaging with young people to create and solve problems we face at a public and social policy level.

Currently, LiveTiles is working with 20 small businesses in Tasmania. Further to this, TasALERT is an emergency warning and information system in an online platform. It is now running LiveTiles products which allows it to provide a single source of clear and consistent emergency information from across government in an easy-to-use and high-performing interface.

I think the goal of trying to create a niche market for IT in Tasmania would be highly beneficial to Tasmania's local economy. Tasmania's lifestyle is very attractive to people, and I believe Tasmania could build a bigger hub for information technology into the future. Our lifestyle is perfect for new and upcoming IT companies.

LiveTiles is not the only IT company in Tasmania kicking goals. In this place I have talked about Definium Technologies, Foundry, The Innovation Circle, Bitlink and Enterprize. We know in Tasmania that we have the vibe and the energy for organisations such as this. We are world leaders in catching and inspiring young people to take an interest to tap into their creativity and to invest their time and energy in this important industry.

LiveTiles talked to me about one young person who came to them for work experience but who was not really engaged with the education system. But Mr Tyrrell saw in this young man the ability to be creative and to think outside the box. As a result, this young person has already turned his life around. They were so impressed with him that he will continue to be engaged with this innovative company. That is the sort of story that we need to hear more of in this chamber.

Labor believes that government has a vital role in encouraging and spreading activities around innovation across the country, and I know that Tasmania can play an enormous part in this effort. If we are not involving our regions in our push to be smarter and more innovative, then we are not allowing ourselves the opportunity to reach our full potential. Labor has always understood that innovation should be a national economic priority and that innovation is not something that just occurs in our capitals.

It is very unfortunate that the Turnbull government is all talk and no action on innovation. Mr Turnbull has promised so much in this space but has delivered nothing. The agile and innovative Prime Minister is nowhere to be seen in this space. When it comes to innovation, the Turnbull government has been a big disappointment. It has cut $30 billion out of schools and dumped the Gonski reforms, it has botched the rollout of the NBN, it has backed cuts to CSIRO and it has underfunded Australian innovation activity. If Mr Turnbull really wants to be taken seriously on innovation, he needs to do a lot better than his over hyped innovation statement last December and his glossy 'ideas boom' ad campaign that is costing more than $28 million.

Mr Turnbull certainly needs to listen when it comes to innovation. He ought to visit our very creative innovation sector in Tasmania because we are leading the way. Distance and where we are placed is only an advantage because our lifestyle is second to none. We are the jewel in the crown of the Australian community.