Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy, Ed Husic MP, joined more than 50 people to discuss the future of the digital economy and work at an ACS NSW event held in Parramatta on Thursday.

While not revealing any forthcoming Labor policies, Husic did say the key elements of any policies would address the challenges to business, the positioning of Government as a leader, and a strategy for regional engagement with Asia.

Speaking of his history as a union official, he recalled his first experience of seeing the impact of technology when he visited the Parramatta telephone exchange, and noting that what was once a three-storey facility would soon be dramatically scaled down due to miniaturisation.

Moving to the challenges facing business in Australia, Husic addressed the imminent arrival of US retailing giant Amazon in the Australian marketplace. Among a range of quoted statistics was the startling revelation that 2.7% of all time spent online in the US was spent on Amazon.

While many Australian retailers were in fear of the arrival, it was noted that 57% of retailers believe Amazon would force them to innovate.

As for the ICT sector, Husic lamented it was now seen as its responsibility alone to sell the benefits of the industry.

“For a Government that stopped talking about innovation because it couldn’t get its own backbenchers to explain why it was an important part of the economy, it is massively unfair to the sector to say ‘the job is yours to do.’

“It’s not. It’s all of ours to do. Not just in terms of one party or another, but in terms of Government, business, and community getting ready for the change ahead. If they’re not talking about it, they’re not thinking about it. If they’re not thinking about it, they’re not acting on it.”

Husic also highlighted the role of ACS in the development of leadership in the Government space.

“As much as it is about getting the public service to be digitally literate…we need Federal Cabinet to be across the key issues, and ACS engagement with both parties is a crucial part of that. ACS has a very vital role in getting politicians to think about this more.”

Staying true to his electorate of Chifley, he highlighted that the future of innovation would not just be restricted to the “laneways of inner Sydney” but would expand further to the economic and jobs heartland of Western Sydney.

Ed Husic is participating in a political panel at the Reimagination Thought Leaders’ Summit hosted by the ACS on 2 November in Sydney.