In a statement issued on Thursday, the AIIA, the main lobby group for the tech industry, said this request was one of the recommendations included in a white paper that it would submit to governments in the country.
According to the AIIA, the minister should be part of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, report directly to the prime minister, advise cabinet and have a whole-of-government and co-ordination role.
Additionally, the minister should be "a conduit for industry and co-ordinate policies supporting Australian sovereign digital capabilities, whole-of-government digital policies, government procurement policies and economy-wide digital transformation requirements including state and federal co-ordination".
“Given the fragmentation, there is no central co-ordination of advice to the Prime Minister and Cabinet on many critical issues. We must have a cohesive approach and understanding by portfolio Ministers to issues such as cyber security and sovereignty, supply chains, skills, and data as major decisions are being made in these areas.
“The creation of a Minister for Digital Capability will also allow industry to engage with government taking a whole of government approach to digital capability and cut through often opaque areas of government policy making in areas like national and cyber security,”
The AIIA said the coronavirus pandemic had shown how essential co-ordinated digital policies were to move the country forward during an emergency.
“The pandemic has also highlighted the need for sovereign capabilities in the digital supply chain. Australia must have the skills and innovation ecosystem to support a globally competitive economy as this step change into digital transformation occurs,” Gauci said.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has highlighted the need for a greater digital presence in the economy during a speech at the National Press Club while other ministers have emphasised the importance of digital inclusion at the inaugural National Meeting of Digital Economy and Technology.
Gauci said this support was important, but added: "It’s encouraging to note that ministers will be tracking the growth of the digital economy, but we also need someone to drive and lead this work, grasping the economic and productivity benefits of digital adoption.”