The development of South Australia’s digital economy has dominated discussion at the ACS’ Innovation and Future Jobs Forum in Adelaide, as the March 17 state election looms.

The panel, made up of Minister for Manufacturing, Innovation, Science and the Information Economy, the Hon Kyam Maher MLC; Shadow Minister for Industry Corey Wingard MP; Dignity Party MLC the Hon Kelly Vincent; and Greens candidate for Waite Brendan White, discussed the importance of the digital economy in relation to innovation and jobs for South Australia.

The discussion was moderated by ACS South Australia Immediate Past Chair, Jo Stewart-Rattray.

It came as South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill pledged $35 million from a re-elected Labor government towards the creation of Australia’s fastest internet network.

To be known as “the Fishbone”, the new network will expand on the state government’s existing fibre network to provide internet service providers with the infrastructure to deliver faster and cheaper services.

Maher spoke about how the Fishbone can benefit the local economy.

“Labor is standing up for South Australia and taking control of our digital infrastructure to create the jobs of the future,” he said.

“Where we have rolled out our GigCity network, it has delivered speeds 50 to 100 times faster than previously available at these sites, ten times faster than the NBN and at least 50% cheaper.”

“South Australian jobs are Labor’s number one priority and only Labor will invest in essential services and publicly-owned infrastructure that supports businesses to establish, grow and create jobs.”

Weatherill also spoke about the new service following the announcement.

“Labor believes internet is an essential service, and we’re stepping in where the Federal Liberal government has failed, by delivering the fastest, cheapest internet speeds in the nation,” he said in a statement.

The announcement comes after Adelaide was named 61st out 100 cities in the easypark 2017 Smart Cities Index, placing after Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

Old hospital to get a revamp

Prior to the Fishbone high-speed internet announcement, Premier Weatherill also announced that a re-elected Labor government would invest $350 million over nine years towards redeveloping the Old Royal Adelaide Hospital into a future industries precinct.

The new site will include a workspace that will be made available for start-ups and businesses in industries such as cyber security and renewable energy.

Additionally, Adelaide University has announced itself as the first tenant of the site, opening an Institute of Machine Learning later this year.

“The Old Royal Adelaide Hospital site presents us with an enormous opportunity to bring together our educational institutions, government and private sector to work together to grow the types of industries that will provide jobs in the future,” said Weatherill.

Carly’s Law

As Nick Xenophon’s recently formed SA-BEST party prepares for its first election, it has flagged cyber safety as a priority.

Xenophon announced that, if elected, SA-BEST would move immediately to introduce ‘Carly’s Law’ – legislation that gives police greater power to protect children online.

Named after 15-year-old Carly Ryan, who was murdered by an online predator in 2007, the law makes it an offence for a person over 18 to intentionally misrepresent their age in online communications with a minor for the purpose of a physical meeting.

“A strong legal framework is essential, but the law alone cannot effect the cultural change necessary to reduce the frequency and harm caused by modern methods of bullying behaviour,” said Xenophon.

“SA-BEST will make it a priority to protect the safety of children in the digital space.”

Xenophon's proposed state legislation comes after the Senate passed the Criminal Code Amendment (Protecting Minors Online) Bill, in June last year.