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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 821


Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (11:23): I must confess that this resolution completely and utterly perplexed me. After the census fail, after the ATO website was down for days, after the Centrelink robo-debt fiasco, after concerns have emerged about the CSA's IT systems, the member for Fairfax moved 'to congratulate the government for pursuing an extensive technology reform agenda that will change the way Australians interact with government services for the better'. Seriously! 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 just cannot be serious! It is such a bizarre resolution.

I want to make these two points. First: the mover of the resolution retreated. He is not even here to listen to the debate. He left straight away. The member for Mackellar, who, in his Young Liberal days, was widely regarded as a very smart operator, in a lapse, spoke on this motion but in a recovery also retreated. He was not here either to finish it off. What was also interesting is that I am now speaking after my good friend and colleague, the member for Burt, when another government member should be speaking, and they are not. Because they have heeded the wise words—I love that HBO show, Silicon Valley, where Erlich Bachman said, 'Don't touch anything—failure is contagious.' This is why they have no other speaker in relation to this resolution.

The member for Mackellar, in his defence of the federal government, opened by relying on what the New South Wales government is doing on digital transformation. Successes on the digital transformation front are so sparse and unavailable that he had to quote another Liberal government because, as I said, 'Don't touch anything. Failure is contagious. Don't mention the federal government.' That was interesting.

Do you know who else is missing? The Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr HUSIC: I hear my colleagues say, 'Who is he?' They are right to ask this question. He has been completely missing in action with the census fail, the Centrelink robo-debt, the ATO tax office website failure and the child support agency failure. The only great thing I can say about Angus Taylor is that he has literally become the government's telepresence within the ministry. He is nowhere to be seen. He is a mere telepresence. He is not available, and it is disgraceful that he is not here.

The ATO website went down for four days. The transmission of information back and forth went down for four days. The ATO came out and said, 'We don't know anything about what's going on.' So we do not know if this was a cyber attack. We do not know exactly what was going on. They do not know how to fix it. No-one has stepped up. When the assistant minister is not present, when the revenue minister does not step up and when the Treasurer does not step up you know there is a problem.

The second thing I will mention is this: if the member for Fairfax is so confident about this resolution, I invite him to post his speech on Facebook, on his own page, and then advertise the heck out of it in his own electorate. I tell you what: no-one in his electorate will support him, and, in fact, they will probably suggest that he go and have a lie down. After all the problems they have had—

Ms Burney interjecting

Mr HUSIC: 'A Bex and a good lie down,' as the member for Barton rightly interjects—because no-one could be serious. If he does not do it, I extend to him this offer: I will not only post his speech; I will post my response and I will advertise it in his electorate. People in his electorate should hear that when he comes to Canberra he defends the government. He does not come here to stick up for his constituents who have problems with Centrelink, the ATO, child support or the census; he comes in to defend the government. It is wrong.

Labor supports, and has always supported, the digital transformation push by the government, but this has gone off the rails. This has completely gone off the rails. It has undermined the effort of digital transformation. Look at the number of areas where this has gone off track. This is a problem. Digital technology is not just about the tech; it should be the end-to-end process that should be looked at and the application of technology to improve the service. Constituents, the general public, should be able to get better out of digital transformation.

What is happening now is that the Digital Transformation Agency has turned itself into a think tank. It is not legitimately there to help. The problem is that, as these people get distracted in their own internal warfare, the general public is made to suffer. It is unacceptable. It should not be the case that digital transformation hurts rather than helps.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Buchholz ): The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned, and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.