Michelle Lensink

ICT Sector

A supplementary question put forward to the Hon. P. HOLLOWAY regarding the ICT Sector.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As a supplementary question arising from the minister’s previous reply, how can the minister be proclaiming growth, expansion and increased competitiveness in the local market when large and significant players—such as EDS and Motorola—are shedding large numbers of staff to places such as Malaysia and India and losing critical mass programmers, help desk staff and middle management; and what is the government doing to ensure that South Australia keeps the critical mass and corporation knowledge that the previous government obtained for South Australia?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: The previous government outsourced the expertise that was within the Public Service to private companies and, to that extent, the state lost control of what was happening. My answer was all about those small innovative companies that have the potential to grow, and a number of them are around. Some companies are making games for the world market, such as Ratbag software, as well as companies involved with the film industry, such as Kojo and the like. Many successful companies are growing and, through the competition, that is what the state is keen to promote in relation to its own software provision.

It is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Administrative Services. The honourable member would be well aware that, as I understand it, the contract signed by the previous government is up for renewal in the fairly near future, and I do not wish to make any comment in relation to those commercial negotiations. They are not my responsibility and, even if they were, it would be inappropriate for me to make any comment in relation to that matter.

In relation to businesses shifting offshore to those countries, inevitably that will be driven by the high value of the dollar. Like every minister for industry and trade in this country, I would much prefer to see the Australian dollar at levels a little lower. It will unquestionably put significant pressure on many of our export industries. The mining sector is a particular case where its commodities are priced in US dollars.

Obviously, the rapid rise of the Australian dollar against the US dollar is hurting those exporters—and I think the Prime Minister has made comments along those lines, and I would certainly agree with his comments in that area. I do not agree with much of what he says, but I certainly agree with his comments that the rising Australian dollar is of some concern. However, there will always be some shift off. As the Hon. Carmel Zollo said in her question, the important thing is that employment overall in the sector has been growing, and maybe that indicates that the number of smaller companies that are growing is outweighing any structural change that is taking place in the larger IT companies and, indeed, the figures would show that, when it is growing with such rapidity.

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