Labor recognises service of outgoing NICTA CEO

Labor thanks the outgoing Chief Executive of National ICT Australia (NICTA), Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, for his service leading this outstanding organisation since 2010.

NICTA is one of Australia’s premier research organisations and plays a critical role in graduating a robust and world-class cohort of ICT PhDs.

The organisation has notched up some impressive achievements under Professor Durrant-Whyte’s leadership, including having more than 300 PhD students currently on its books.

Professor Durrant-Whyte’s decision to step aside from this leadership role is regrettable given his impressive contribution as Chief Executive to date.

The Abbott Government’s decision to cut off all funding for NICTA from mid-2016 has clearly jeopardised the future of the organisation.

Now more than ever NICTA needs strong leadership to navigate the perilous situation the Abbott Government has placed it in.

NICTA has achieved everything a Government could ask of it – not only training the next generation of ICT researchers and engineers, but building a bridge between research and business that has delivered astonishing commercial outcomes.

Technology spun out of NICTA through Open Kernel Labs is now deployed in 1.6 billion mobile devices worldwide.

NICTA’s work on transport logistics has delivered Tip Top Bakeries a 15 per cent saving in transport costs.

But this applied research is built on a base of world-class fundamental science – NICTA produces more than 550 high impact academic publications each year.

Nowhere in the world does a research organisation like this exist without public support.

It is vital that NICTA has access to sufficient funding to enable it to continue to carry out its work independently and to the highest possible standards.

Any rationalisation or privatisation of this key public sector agency because of government cuts would be a highly unsatisfactory outcome.

This would lead to a loss of capacity – merely an exercise in salvaging something from the Budget wreckage rather than a genuine exercise in improving efficiency.