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IT’s forum not for CCI

THE State Government has rejected a request from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to appoint a chamber representative to the Information and Communi-cations Industry Development Forum.

The forum was launched in late April to act as a conduit between the Government and Western Australia’s IT industry. It is chaired by former deputy premier Mal Bryce.

But the forum does not include any nominated representatives of WA’s Internet community or SME sector, a situation that prompted the CCI to submit a letter to State Development Minister Clive Brown.

The letter proposed that CCI’s level of SME membership meant the chamber would be well placed to contribute to the Government’s appreciation of the needs of small businesses.

CCI had suggested the appointment to the forum of Steve Pretzel, managing director of web developer Pretzel Logic and the chairman of CCI’s IT, E-commerce and Business Services Committee. Mr Pretzel would be able to discuss with CCI members the issues raised at the forum and, likewise, provide added feedback to the forum from the business community.

But in a reply sent in late May, Mr Brown said no more members would be appointed to the forum. The eight existing members were outstanding and it was intended that the forum be kept small.

The Australian Information Industry Association, of which Mr Pretzel is a member, is another industry body that was not included in the forum.

The AIIA has met a number of times with the Department of Premier and Cabinet to request a meeting with Mr Brown to discuss whether it could gain a seat at the forum table, but at the time of going to press no ministerial decision had been announced.

Taxman pushes Internet

TAXPAYERS are being urged to lodge their tax returns online this year.

The Australian Tax Office launched the e-tax product last year, and the service was used by 280,000 people.

Its goal this year is to double that number of users.

The ATO has upgraded the service to include an online chatroom so users can discuss tax problems or software problems with ATO staff members.

Software difficulties was one of the main problems identified by users of the service last year.

One of the benefits of using e-tax is the 14-day processing time.

The ATO is also trialing telephone lodgement this year, giving 50,000 Western Australians and 125,000 South Australians access to the service.

Telephone lodgement is an alternative to using TaxPack for people with relatively straightforward tax affairs.

The scheme was piloted in South Australia. The ATO invited 50,000 SA taxpayers to use the service. Only 5,500 took up the offer.

As with e-tax, phone lodgement also offers 14-day processing.

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