Service Victoria Amendment Bill 2023

BATH (Eastern Victoria) (14:55): I would like to make a few brief comments today about the Service Victoria Amendment Bill 2023 in our second-reading debate, and as Mr Galea has just said, it is a largely, largely uncontroversial bill. I note this side of the house will not be opposing it. I thank my good friend Tim McCurdy in the other place for being our shadow minister in this space and for providing some good research and context to our knowledge in this debate. We know that this bill comes about through recommendations by Dr Claire Noone in her required investigation, or required review, commissioned by the minister on the third anniversary of the act.

I like the idea of a one-stop shop. It sounds good. There are always, I find, teething troubles in all of these sorts of events and procedures and programs, but the idea to streamline services certainly has merit. I understand that there are about 100 different agency functions, ranging from licence renewals to rebates and savings finders, that can be encompassed by Service Victoria. Indeed I might just put on record that I recently had to renew my licence. Every 10 years you have to renew your licence, and I had to go onto the VicRoads website and download the app and conduct that. I was quite pleased, though, that they said I did not have to renew my photo, so indeed for the next 10 years I will look like I looked 10 years ago. I am very pleased about that. But these sorts of expediencies can certainly be handy, rather than going to various different apps and downloading them.

I also note that during the course of the summer, my wonderful nephews and my son and I were out on the Gippsland Lakes. They decided to throw the fishing line in. We were out on Lake King in the Paynesville and Metung area, and they downloaded their fishing licence. So when we pulled up at Duck Arm at the end of the day and threw the line in, they were able to be legal and aboveboard. Suffice to say we had loads of fun – and no fish were caught. But the idea behind this sort of framework is to create a more seamless opportunity for people to have the required licences, to be legal, but also to cut out the overburden of doubling up.

I understand from the 2023–24 budget briefings that the Allan government have set aside $3 million for this delivery of the digital services, but perplexingly, in anticipation, the cost could actually increase to $60 million in that delivery in the 2024–25 financial year. Some of that discussion could be around the increased workload and doubling of those transactions and traffic to the website. Let us hope that there are certainly some efficiencies and that we do not see doubling and doubling and doubling, as we have seen in other government-driven projects. I will just leave that there, because otherwise I will get started. The other thing is around that cost-recovery basis. If it is a cost-recovery basis, how does it seem to go into that $60 million? These are some of the questions that I think people have raised and that have been raised with me.

One of the major components of the bill is certainly that seamless end-to-end service delivery – and I have just spoken about the need to reduce having to go to different websites et cetera – and the identity verification and electronic ID. I think probably one thing that I would like to put on record, and I know I was at a National Party meeting the other day in Sale and having our normal meeting as we do from time to time, is the concern that some citizens have about the digital platform holding personal information and the concerns they have around the breaches of that or that that can be shared – just the protection of personal ID and personal information. Indeed I think one very good comment that came out of those discussions was that they always need to be opt-in. They always need to be volunteer, we will call it, or non-compulsory. Certainly there are many pieces of information that are held in positions that I am sure I do not know – information in my particular space and size. I used to think that if you had a tax file number the government tended to know a lot about you anyway, but securing that electronic ID and providing some surety that it is not compulsory – that these are opt-in processes – can therefore reduce that concern around the sharing of information and the misappropriation of that information. We have seen cyber breaches in recent times, which have certainly compromised I think people’s medical history and financial banking as well, so there needs to be tight regulation around that. There need to be those black walls so that we can keep away from indeed the dark web, and these sorts of things should be voluntary.

The other thing, which I know my colleague Tim McCurdy raised and is very pertinent too, is about just making sure that when these digital platforms come on board there is inclusivity and accessibility for people, first of all where IT is not their first language, we will say, and they have concerns, where English is not their first language or for those who do have certain disabilities or who may be illiterate – there are indeed people who are illiterate, and in the past it was easy to walk in, take your form and get it stamped in an office in the various sectors – and just ensuring that those non tech savvy and those with difficulties with technology are served well and supported. I am just putting on record that the government still needs to be mindful about these sorts of issues and, again, for those multicultural people – the wonderful people that make up such a vast number in our state – where English is a concern for them, that there are those pathways that are able to make sure they can access these services. I really think that the digital pathways are not specifically addressed in this bill, and many in our ethnic communities may suffer a reduced delivery from the government due to lack of adequate transition and translation into their required language. So I am just putting that on the record.

Finally, I think it is important to create efficiencies. We all carry our phones with us – 90 per cent of us would carry our phones with us – and have access to the improvements and the specialisations that can occur with modern technology as long as those other protections are put in place, and with that I will happily end my contribution.