Mal Bryce honoured for political, industry contribution

05/03/2018 - 18:16

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Former WA deputy premier Mal Bryce, who won accolades for championing the information and communication technology (ICT) sector and small business through political and commercial careers spanning more than 40 years, has passed away at the age of 75.

Mal Bryce honoured for political, industry contribution

Former WA deputy premier Mal Bryce, who won accolades for championing the information and communication technology (ICT) sector and small business through political and commercial careers spanning more than 40 years, has passed away at the age of 75.

Mr Bryce retired from state parliament in 1988 after serving as deputy premier and holding multiple ministerial portfolios, including economic development and technology, industry, small business, defence liaison, and parliamentary and electoral reform.

He continued to promote development of the ICT sector after his retirement.

His national contribution was recognised in 2012 when he was awarded the Pearcey Medal, at a gala dinner in Melbourne attended by some 800 guests.

He is the only West Australian to have won the Pearcey Medal, which recognises lifetime achievement in the ICT sector.

That was after he was named the WAITTA Achiever of the Year at the 2002 WA IT and Telecommunications Awards.

Mr Bryce’s enthusiastic support for the internet sector started after a visit to the United States in the 1970’s, when he saw the impact of modern technology.

He faced a constant battle to win local support, especially in the early days.

“Back home in Western Australia it wasn’t easy to get an appreciation by other people,” he told Business News after accepting the Pearcey Medal.

“Many of my colleagues thought I was, maybe, a little unhinged.”

He established Australia’s first government department of computing and information technology, along with Technology Park in Bentley, which to this day is both an incubator for start-up ICT companies and a home for established tech businesses.

Mr Bryce was also responsible for the establishment of Scitech and legislated to establish WA’s Technology and Industry Advisory Council and the Small Business Development Corporation.

Outside the technology sector, Mr Bryce’s ministerial achievements included a major overhaul of the State’s electoral and parliamentary system, including reshaping the Legislative Council to its current multi-member system.

After retiring from politics, he was a leading Australian pioneer in development of the internet industry and its application to business, government agencies and communities.

He was the architect of Australia’s first (and one of the world’s first) internet-enabled communities in Ipswich, Queensland in 1993 and led the team that implemented Australia’s first community driven e-commerce project.

Mr Bryce served as chairman of both iVEC, a high-performance computing facility, and its successor, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre at Technology Park.

His advocacy included being a regular contributor to Business News.

Born in Bunbury in 1943, Mr Bryce was elected to the WA parliament in 1971 at the age of 28, to the seat of Ascot.

He was awarded life membership of the WA Labor Party by Premier Mark McGowan last year.

Following his death on Saturday, Mr McGowan said Mr Bryce would be sorely missed.

"A long serving deputy premier of our state, Mal was a decent man, ahead of his time and a champion of innovation and technology,” Mr McGowan said.

“He loved his family. He will be missed by many across Western Australia."

WA Labor state secretary Patrick Gorman said Mr Bryce contributed to the cause of Labor for his entire working life.

"A passionate supporter of Party modernisation and technological innovation throughout his life,” Mr Gorman said.

“Advocate for the Community Action Network and just last year helped win Belmont for Cassie Rowe."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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