Australian Govt plans A$1.2b boost to digital economy

Ongoing prosperity depends on its ability to innovate, clear policies and a national innovation strategy.

Ahead of Australia’s 2021 budget, the Federal Government has announced a plan to A$1.2 billion investment is about securing Australia’s economic recovery in a world of continuing uncertainty. The Budget announced today is focused on improving systems across artificial intelligence (AI), health, digital skills, cyber security, and digital payments.

The federal funding announcement allocates A$124.1 million to the nation’s capability in AI aiming to ensure Australia becomes a global leader in AI research and commercialisation. Additionally, A$500 million will be allocated to give consumers greater access to their health and government data via a makeover to the MyGov website and the My Health Record service. A further A$100 million has been committed to the development of digital skills in the workforce, including the creation of cadetships.

Australia’s peak industry representative body for innovation technology, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), welcomed the Federal Government’s Budget as a good start to position Australia as a leading digital economy by 2030.

However, the ICT sector will continue to advocate for greater investment to achieve a globally competitive industry said Ron Gauci CEO at AIIA.

“The investment of A$1.2 billion is recognition of the fact that the ICT sector is at the heart of every industry and the Federal Government must continue to invest in this sector to secure our economic independence for years to come,” he said. “We’ve been advocating for significant investment in health, skills, cybersecurity, digital payments and AI.”

According to Gauci the investment of investment of A$124.1 million for AI shows the Federal Government’s continued commitment to ensuring Australia becomes a leading digital economy. However, in April we demonstrated that to fully fund a National AI Strategy, A$250 million was needed.

While investment in R&D is important, more needs to be done to ensure that there is significant investment in the commercialisation of AI here in Australia to deliver jobs and economic growth. Without it we will continue to fall behind the rest of the world.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape the technology at the core of the Australian health system,” Gauci said. “Now is the time to create lasting structural change as a result of setting up a strong and efficient national ICT health backbone and the investment of A$500 million will go some way to bringing this to reality.”

The AIIA recognises the Federal Government’s A$100 million allocation towards the development of digital skills in the workforce, including the creation of cadetships, he noted.

“Australia’s ongoing prosperity depends on its ability to innovate requiring leadership, clear policies and a national innovation strategy,” said Gauci. “As a nation, we must support our innovators and ensure Australia can retain ownership of our brilliant creations and ensure we do not fall behind our international peers.”

The AIIA is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at fuelling Australia’s future social and economic prosperity through technology innovation.



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