Senator The Hon. Zed Seselja
Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance

Thursday, March 14, 2019


Good Morning.

I would like to echo the Minister’s sentiments that it is great to be here at the ‘Modernising the Public Sector’ Expo.

I hope you enjoy visiting the exhibits today and learning more about how the public sector is modernising to meet future demands.

As a Canberran, I am particularly pleased to talk about some of the innovation and modernisation activity that’s going on in the Public Service, given that so much of it happens in our city.

If you’ll allow me to talk for my home town briefly, I think there’s a tendency towards only talking about the innovation that happens in the private sector when the reality is there is also some amazing work going on here in Canberra in the offices of many great public servants.

Investment from Government towards public sector modernisation is also an investment in Canberra and that’s something I’m proud our Government has done.

The Minister mentioned the Modernisation Fund—I would like to highlight some of its great projects.

Modernising Grants Management

The National Health and Medical Research Council is here to share their ‘Modernising Grants Management’ project.

This project uses process automation and machine learning to improve efficiency, with some process times reduced from weeks to mere seconds.

I will leave the detail to the experts, but from what I understand their software automates the process finding a reviewer and an assessor of the grant.

The software is smart as well as fast - it can even identify whether there may be any conflicts of interest, before making the match.

Importantly, Council staff remain the thinkers and decision makers.

The difference is that they now spend less time on repetitive tasks, and more time supporting research that aims to build a healthier Australia.

Data Integration Partnership for Australia

The Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA) is an innovative partnership of 17 agencies.

DIPA combines Government datasets to create a more complete and informed picture of our economy and society.

This helps answer important and complex questions about communities, families, our environment and the economy that single datasets cannot answer.

Recent projects have even helped to save lives – for example, one is providing data to identify potentially dangerous medicine combinations not identified by other means.

This is very important work, and I look forward to seeing what important, life changing insights they come up with next.

Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government

The Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government, known as BETA, is also here today.

Their goal is to ensure that government policies, programs and services reflect real decision-making and human behaviour, so they achieve better results.

Who here for example here completes their tax form online? BETA has worked with the ATO to ensure that the forms are easy to understand, reducing the time and cost of completing your tax return.

Other BETA initiatives like plain packaging of cigarettes and MySuper were designed with real human behaviour in mind.

Digital Earth Australia

Digital Earth Australia uses satellite data to detect physical changes across Australia. And it’s doing this in unprecedented detail.

It identifies soil and coastal erosion, crop growth, water quality and changes to cities and regions.

This provides a wealth of information to government and industry for monitoring the environment and increasing productivity in the agriculture and mining industries.

For example, the NSW Department of Primary Industries has collaborated with Digital Earth Australia to conduct an audit of farm dam levels across NSW. This work enabled the development of a tool which tracks 60,000 water bodies in NSW by utilising satellite imagery. This information allows farmers to track dam levels and gain new it has provided the NSW Government with new insights into water availability for livestock and farmers through the current drought.


The projects I’ve mentioned this morning are just a handful of the initiatives making a difference in our public sector. You can learn more about these and many more projects today at the Expo.

I encourage you to take the time to explore, ask questions and consider how our departments might join up to support and achieve great outcomes.

And again, I’d like to finish by saying congratulations to all of you working on these projects. They are a wonderful example of the amazing public sector innovation that is happening right here in Canberra.