AU$7.4 billion tied up in active Australian government IT projects

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) in early 2017 was charged with looking into the structures of existing Australian government high-cost technology projects over AU$10 million.

Previously, the agency would provide status reports on these projects but that information is no longer provided freely.

Documents received by ZDNet under freedom of information (FOI) in January revealed there were 62 active tech-related projects above AU$10 million underway by the federal government, but the details surrounding how much has been spent to date — and how many of the projects went above the budgeted amount — were refused under the FOI.

See also: Government IT projects failing as DTA’s phone calls go unanswered

In its Annual Report 2019-20 [PDF] published this week, the DTA revealed the total amount of funds tied up in government IT projects, although that figure only accounts for funds as of January 2020.

As of January, AU$7.4 billion was tied up in active government IT projects. AU$1.5 billion was also listed as the value for new proposals.

There were 36 agencies engaged with on 50 digital and IT-enabled initiatives and 26 agencies engaged with on 48 in-flight projects.

“We engaged with 26 entities on 48 in-flight projects and related activities to promote better practice project management methods and support project teams to realise intended benefits,” the DTA added under the header of in-flight achievements related to its target of providing advice and guidance on design and delivery of digital and IT projects.

“We engaged regularly with departments and agencies seeking advice, guidance and support for their efforts to apply the Digital Service Standard and the service design and delivery process to their service transformation efforts.”

The DTA also said, under achievements, that it has continued its work with agencies and provided independent assurance for major digital investments as part

Kevin Rudd’s Petition To Investigate Murdoch Broke The Australian Government’s Website

The Ex-PM’s petition calling for a royal commission into the influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is proving rather too much for the Australian Parliamentary website. So many users have reported problems trying to sign it that even the site itself admits it’s in trouble.

The Rudd Petition is having a hard time

Kevin Rudd’s petition calls for a Royal Commission into the influence of News Corporation on the Australian media landscape. While the merits of that approach are certainly debatable as a control measure, what’s not debateable is that it’s proved conceptually very popular indeed. At the time of writing some 88,747 people had signed, according to the APH web site.

That number might be much higher, however, with numerous reports over the weekend that users trying to sign the petition couldn’t. The sheer weight of numbers trying to do so brought the APH website to its knees.

As of Monday, it still appears to be an issue:

It’s proved to be so much of an issue that there’s now a disclaimer on the APH website, stating that:

“We are aware

ACCC code sees Google pause Australian rollout of News Showcase

Google has paused the Australian rollout of News Showcase, which is a news-based service pitched by the company as benefiting both publishers and readers.

News Showcase was only announced earlier this month, and when it was initially launched in Germany and Brazil, CEO Sundar Pichai explained the platform was aimed at paying publishers to “create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience”.

Although Google said it signed several agreements with Australian publishers for News Showcase in June, it has decided to pause its Australian plans as it is not sure if the product would be viable under the impending media bargaining code of practice published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Google has held firm that it is against the News Media Bargaining Code, saying previously it would force the tech giant to provide users with a “dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube”, which could lead to data being handed over to “big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia”.

“The agreements we have signed in Australia and around the world show that not only are we willing to pay to license news content for a new product, but that we are able to strike deals with publishers without the draft code’s onerous and prescriptive bargaining framework and one-sided arbitration model,” Google wrote in a blog post penned by Australia and New Zealand VP Mel Silva.

“We don’t oppose a code, and a system for resolving disputes between parties. But the arbitration system outlined in the draft is unworkable.”

The code, as drafted, adopts a model based on negotiation, mediation, and arbitration to “best facilitate genuine commercial bargaining between parties, allowing commercially negotiated outcomes suited to different business models used by Australian news media businesses”.

The

Australian transport union accuses Amazon Flex of underpaying drivers

Transport Workers Union (TWU) has hit out at Amazon, accusing the global e-commerce giant of underpaying Amazon Flex drivers.

Amazon Flex was launched in Australia at the start of the year. At the time, Amazon Australia boasted it would give individuals the chance to earn money while delivering Amazon packages to customers.

Much like Uber, individuals are required to use their own vehicles, and at a minimum, are required to have personal car insurance and compulsory third-party personal injury.

When these compulsory insurance requirements are met, Amazon also provides delivery partners with Amazon Insurance Coverage at no additional cost, which includes auto liability coverage, third-party property damage, and contingent comprehensive coverage. But the coverage is only applicable when individuals are using Amazon Flex to deliver packages or return undelivered packages back to a designated location.

While it is unclear how much individual contractors earn or whether Amazon will take a share of those earnings, Amazon had assured that delivery partner rates are “competitive”.

“Our delivery partners are paid per delivery block rather than per hour and block rates vary depending on a range of different factors, including time of day and day of the week. The delivery partner knows the estimated duration and payment for each block before they accept it on the Amazon Flex app,” an Amazon spokesperson told ZDNet during the launch.

However, TWU said following a financial examination of Amazon’s pay rates, it has revealed all Amazon Flex drivers are allegedly being paid “well under Australia’s minimum wage” when costs such as insurance, petrol, and maintenance are taken into account.

“For years, workers and unions have exposed the gig economy sham for its exploitation and dodging of industrial and WHS legislation. Now here we have a retail giant that has profited immensely from the pandemic on a

Kevin Rudd’s Petition To Investigate Murdoch Broke The Australian Government’s Website

The Ex-PM’s petition calling for a royal commission into the influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is proving rather too much for the Australian Parliamentary website. So many users have reported problems trying to sign it that even the site itself admits it’s in trouble.

The Rudd Petition is having a hard time

Kevin Rudd’s petition calls for a Royal Commission into the influence of News Corporation on the Australian media landscape. While the merits of that approach are certainly debatable as a control measure, what’s not debateable is that it’s proved conceptually very popular indeed. At the time of writing some 88,747 people had signed, according to the APH web site.

That number might be much higher, however, with numerous reports over the weekend that users trying to sign the petition couldn’t. The sheer weight of numbers trying to do so brought the APH website to its knees.

As of Monday, it still appears to be an issue:

It’s proved to be so much of an issue that there’s now a disclaimer on the APH website, stating that:

“We are aware