AIIA Tech and Sustainability Conference

This month the Australian Information Industry Association’s new CEO, Simon Bush, hosted the AIIA’s “Tech and Sustainability Conference” in Parliament House, Canberra.  As the current National Chair, I welcomed participants and the keynote speaker, The Hon. Ed Husic MP, Minister for Industry & Science.  The Minister’s speech is available on his ministerial page.  We also gained tremendous insights on the opportunities and challenges from Anna Bligh, David Thodey and Innes Willox amongst many others.

Thank you, Simon.  I appreciate your introduction and look forward to working with you as you assume the role of CEO of the AIIA.

I too acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this Parliament stands, the Ngunnawal people, and pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

I am delighted to be with you all in Canberra today for this important Conference.

Technology has always been at the cutting edge – not only of technical capability, but of making social impact.  Delivering social benefit comes naturally to technologists, as technology is all about helping people and solving problems.

But alongside commercial interests and the rapid pace of development, ensuring our innovation yields important dividends for humanity and future generations is a crucial task.

As Chair of the AIIA, I take significant pride in the work our members are doing to leverage their technology towards attaining important sustainability goals.

This is an area in which the digital and technology sector wants to show leadership, knowing that the tech sector has the capacity to genuinely transform industry.

Our impact in this area is twofold.  Not only can we reduce our own carbon footprint as an industry with substantial energy requirements, we can also provide every sector with the technology it needs first to measure and report on emissions and increasingly the technology to actually reduce and replace emissions.

As leaders who are already investing heavily in carbon neutrality, the time has now come to enable this transformation for every element of our economy, and partner with government in the task.  This is especially relevant in the wake of this Parliament passing the new Government’s climate bill, locking in national targets of cutting emissions by at least 43% by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050.

As you all know, news of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has touched the world in the last week.

The Queen was an early adopter of technology, embracing 3D technology in 1953, email in 1976, websites in 1997, podcasts and YouTube in 2006, and sending her first Tweet in 2014.

The Queen remarked in 1983 that “astonishing and very rapid development has changed the lives of almost everyone.”  She noted the “revolution” of new technologies and its role in creating prosperity across the globe. The Queen reflected that even though technology gives us the “means” of sending and receiving communications, we often lack the “right messages to send”.

This Tech and Sustainability Conference takes place in that spirit: finding the right messages, the right objectives, to send and serve, using the cutting-edge technologies that AIIA members and stakeholders bring to the market.  The Australian tech sector is committed to ensuring that corporate social responsibility is at the heart of our practices and priorities.

We have the capacity to greatly enable, not detract from, this country’s mission to a more sustainable future.

We know that action on the climate emergency takes the right tools to be effective.  With innovation technology, we are better able to engage on the crucial challenges and opportunities that lie before us as a country.  The task of creating a sustainable future, which overarches all national objectives, is best approached using the power of technology.

This Conference will bring together leaders from across the spectrum of industry, government and the start-up sector and has the capacity to create meaningful change.

I wish you well for your participation and I also thank our sponsors: our Platinum Sponsor, Salesforce, and our Gold Sponsors IBM, Kyndryl, SAP, CDC Data Centres, and Infosys.

It is now my great pleasure to welcome to the lectern to officially open this Conference, the Honourable Ed Husic MP.

Minister Husic is Minister for Industry and Science and has been the Member for Chifley since 2010.

Minister Husic is a well-known and respected tech leader with a strong record of anticipating and addressing key challenges.  He has a strong and ongoing interest in the Australian digital sector.  He has been vocal about the need for the country to think ahead about the impact of technology on jobs and communities – to help industry prepare and capitalise on future opportunities.

The AIIA appreciates Minister Husic’s leadership in commercialising quantum and AI, including his commitment to the effective execution of the national AI strategy, the soon-to-be released quantum strategy and the commercialisation of emerging technology.

His support and leadership in addressing short and long-term tech skills challenges has been noted, as well as his intention to advance Australia’s research and development standing on the world stage.

The AIIA looks forward to working closely with the Minister as he pursues these critical objectives as part of the Albanese Government.

It is a privilege to have the Minister with us to open our Conference this morning and I welcome him to the lectern.

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