The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the peak member body for the ICT industry, is calling for more consultation between government and industry following the speed at which two critical pieces of legislation for the digital sector passed through both houses in parliament in the past five months.

These are the Assistance and Access Act passed by parliament on 6 December 2018, and
more recently the amendments to Australia’s Criminal Code triggered by the Christchurch shooting video, which was passed through parliament in just two days in April.

Ron_GauciRon Gauci, CEO of the AIIA, said: “More dialogue is required between government and industry to ensure legislation keeps pace with technological developments.

The Government’s reaction shows a complete lack of understanding of the modern economy and the role of ICT in underpinning economic growth.

The unintended consequences of both pieces of legislation, and the damage to the Australian digital sector and multinational companies operating in Australia are yet to be understood.”

The amendments proposed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security have not been revisited since the Act was passed in December 2019. Meanwhile, the amendments to the Criminal Code involved no consultation with industry and received royal assent on 5 April 2019.

“In the case of the Assistance and Access Act, a consultation process was undertaken.
However, the speed at which the Bill was introduced in parliament – seven business days after public consultations closed – suggests that very little consideration was given to the over 344 public submissions.

“Critically, both sets of legislation fail to establish clear processes for companies to follow,” said Mr Gauci. “Without greater dialogue between the digital industry and government, and the departments that serve the government of the day, we will continue to see implementation of regulatory frameworks that are out of step with technological developments.”