The Australian Internet Industry Association (AIIA) has criticised the government for moving slowly on ICT innovation, urging it to act now or risk hindering Australia\u2019s ability to compete in the global digital economy.\nAt the release of its Smart ICT 2013 Election Platform in Sydney, the AIIA outlined its ICT policy recommendations for the upcoming federal election, which include:\n\u2022 Drive uptake of the national broadband infrastructure and provide open access to government data by default\n\u2022 Amend the tax treatment of employee share options plans (ESOP) to realise benefits before tax liabilities are applied\n\u2022 Create targeted tax incentives to encourage 90 per cent of small and medium sized businesses to engage in the digital economy\n\u2022 Continue the 457 visa migration program to help fill skill gaps and invest in a national ICT skills development program targeted at STEM courses to increase university and TAFE enrolments by 40 per cent\n\u2022 Raise tax incentives for Australian companies developing ICT RD and forge better links between research and industry\n\u2022 Fund and resource the ABS to collect, monitor and report ICT metrics and engage the AIIA in analysing and making recommendations.\nAIIA\u2019s deputy chairman, Andrew Stevens, said there\u2019s an idea in Australia that we are \u201cpunching above our weight\u201d when it comes to applying new technologies in both government and business. However, he said that is not the case.\n\u201cIn the application of technology, the World Economic Forum rates us poor. That means we are in the bottom third. We think we are punching above our weight, the world thinks we are not,\u201d Steven said.\n\u201cAre we going to have to have a calamity to realise that we need to get and apply technology in an innovative way? Or, are we going to get on with it?\n\u201cI think [when it comes to] innovation, it\u2019s on the demand side that we really need to be working on because the supply side is there. There\u2019s actually no evidence that we are in a bad position and I\u2019ve looked at all the innovation reports, OECD, World Economic Forum, you name it.\n"We looked at where we rate for things like availability of venture capital and equity funding and we are actually OK. Not the best, and not the worst.\u201d\nAIIA chairman Kee Wong agreed with Stevens, adding that the government hasn\u2019t done enough in preparing Australia for the post resources and mining boom.\n\u201cAustralia cannot sit on its [current] model and say that we have a god given right in this part of the world that is hungry and competitive, and we sit on our model on what nature has given us as natural resources. We have to create our own future.\n\u201cIn this election year, what we need is both sides of the politics to get the importance that technology plays in Australia\u2019s future prosperity.\u201d\nWong said the understanding of how to \u201cqualify risk\u201d when it comes to technology investments is not yet well understood and therefore contributes to the slow progress in ICT innovation.\nRober Hillard, AIIA member, added that the government is naturally \u201cvery nervous about\u201d blowing money on IT projects that may fail, taking a cautious approach to investment. However, he said that does not mean that Australia can afford to take it\u2019s time in \u201cgetting the settings right to encourage innovation\u201d.\nIn February, the Australian Computer Society said it would like to see the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) extend mandatory study of technology beyond Year 8 as part of this year\u2019s election discussions. It also would like to see how the government will support teachers in delivering the technology curriculum to students.