The next Tasmanian government must put the growth of skilled digital jobs at the forefront of its policy platform if it is to give Tasmanians the best opportunities, according to the two candidates vying for a spot in the next Cabinet.

Speaking at a forum on Future Jobs for Tasmania hosted by ACS – the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector – Shadow Minister for Innovation, Communications, Science and the Digital Economy Madeleine Ogilvie, accompanied by a phalanx of astrophysicists, announced a space research policy which will take effect should Labor win Government.

While light on detail, Ms Ogilivie spoke of the plan being an ambitious one for Tasmania.

“I am pleased to announce, it would appear with bi-partisan support, that we are working on a plan to secure Tasmania’s fair share of the $450 billion-dollar space industry.”

“We are already working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and SpaceX. Tasmania can play a part in putting rockets into space, particularly with regards to the telecommunications and telemetry aspects which our clear skies are perfect for.”

Tasmanian Minister for Information Technology and Innovation, the Hon Michael Ferguson, also announced that a re-elected Hodgman Government would commit to a space research and development facility in Hobart, along with economic incentives and a twice-yearly technology industry summit.

“Hobart will be the best place in Australia, possibly the southern hemisphere, to undertake research and development for hypobaric technology” Mr Ferguson said.

“We will empower businesses to take the next step in the digital economy by expanding Digital Ready for business, and helping businesses save by bringing payroll tax from 6.1% down to 4%.”

“It is important to consult with the technology industry, which is why I am announcing today that a re-elected Hodgman government will convene a twice-yearly ICT Industry Summit, with representatives from Government, Industry, ACS and TasICT.”

ACS Branch Chair for Tasmania, Mr Mike Edwards, thanked the candidates for their participation and welcomed the exchange of ideas.

“This election is different from others. In an age of digital disruption, it is so important that Tasmania is not left behind. We were a trial market for the NBN but are yet to fully realise the potential of our digital workforce.”

“To have the Minister and Shadow Minister here today indicates how serious both of the major parties are about growing our digital economy. Whichever party forms Government in the coming weeks, the message is clear. Tasmania must become a more digital state if we are to compete in the national and indeed global economy.”