People working in the Australian information sector characteristically either generate, manipulate or distribute information, or work in the infrastructure that facilitates these tasks. As in most developed countries in the world, the information sector Australia's biggest industrial sector. In spite of the size of this sector. relatively few government policies have been formulated to manage its growth. This is in stark contrast to the situation in Australian primary and secondary industries.
The Australian telecommunications network, as control by Telecom Australia, is an ideal vehicle for launching strategies aimed at developing the information sector, and hence the Australian Information Economy. The ability to trade information efficiently would enable Australia to compete more effectively in the international forum. Economic and technological efficiency gains in telecommunications can be diffused throughout industry, as improvements in the communication of information should lead to productivity gains in firms operating in the information sector.
Telecommunications can also be used to promote social equity by facilitating the redistribution of wealth. In Australia, this could be done by providing new or innovative telecommunications services in regional "growth points", to encourage the relocation of businesses and/or population away from our relatively congested capital cities. The welfare of Australian telephone subscribers can be improved by employing a policy aimed at aligning the prices of telephone services more closely with the actual costs incurred in providing these services to each subscriber.
There has been much concern over the poor performance of Australian information technology exports in the 1980s. Incentives must provided to encourage innovation in the manufacture or generation of Australian information technology products, as innovation would provide Australian companies with comparative advantages over international competitors. The Australian telecommunications services and/or equipment sectors may have to be restructured along international lines to improve our exports of telecommunications products and services.
Australia is but one small portion of what is now a global Information Society; the decisions that the Australian Government, as the representatives of the Australian people, make today concerning information technology will be of major consequence to future generations of Australians.