As part of this year’s Federal Budget the Federal Government has announced almost $1.2 billion of funding for Australia’s digital future through the Digital Economy Strategy. 

The strategy outlines the policies and actions the Government is taking to grow Australia’s future as a modern and leading digital economy by 2030.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said one of our biggest challenges and opportunities turns on how we respond to the digital transformation occurring in every sector and every facet of our lives.

“Every business in Australia is now a digital business. The tradesman or woman who seeks work through AirTasker. The landscaper who finds most of their new business through search engine placement and social media. The farmer who keeps track of their herd with electronic tags or drones. The local Thai restaurant that sells through UberEats, MenuLog, Deliveroo, or any one of half a dozen different food apps. The gym where members book their classes through an app,” the Prime Minister said.

“This transformation is not merely a national one that needs to happen – it’s a global one that is happening.

“We must keep our foot on the digital accelerator to secure our economic recovery from COVID‑19.”

The Strategy targets investment in emerging technologies, building digital skills, encouraging business investment and enhancing Government service delivery.

Through the Strategy the Federal Government is investing in jobs for Australians now and into the future with key initiatives including:

  • Over $100 million to support digital skills for Australians including a new pilot program for work‑based digital cadetships that offer a flexible way for workers to build digital skills, investments in the cyber workforce, and scholarships for emerging technology graduates
  • Building Australia’s capability in Artificial Intelligence with $124.1 million in initiatives, including a National Artificial Intelligence Centre led by CSIRO Data 61, supported by a network of AI and Digital Capability Centres to drive adoption of AI across the economy
  • Enhancing Government services through a $200.1 million investment to overhaul myGov, as well as a $301.8 million investment to enhance the My Health Record and an expansion of the digital identity system
  • Investment incentives to support business growth, including a Digital Games Tax Offset of 30 per cent to support Australia taking a greater share of the $250 billion global game development market, and changes to the way Australian businesses can claim depreciation of intangible assets like intellectual property and in‑house software
  • Helping small and medium businesses build their digital capacity through a $12.7 million expansion of the Digital Solutions – Australian Small Business Advisory Service, and $15.3 million to drive business uptake of e‑Invoicing
  • $35.7 million to support emerging aviation technologies like drones, including grants to support the use of these technologies to address priority needs in regional Australia
  • Unlocking the value of data in the economy and setting the standards for the next generation of data management, including $111.3 million to accelerate the rollout of the Consumer Data Right in banking, energy and telecommunications
  • Over $50 million to enhance cyber security in government, data centres and future telecommunications networks

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said a vibrant digital economy is key to Australia’s economic future.

“Our Digital Economy Strategy will allow Australian businesses to capitalise on the opportunities that digital technologies are creating,” Mr Frydenburg said.

“Greater digital adoption will improve our competitiveness and lift our productivity – driving job creation and higher wages.”

Minister for the Digital Economy, Jane Hume, said the 2021‑22 Budget represents a landmark investment in Australia’s digital future.

“So many Australians are already participating in the digital economy, some without even realising it. Every contactless purchase, e‑Invoice, business website or small business going online – it’s all part of it and it’s growing rapidly,” Ms Hume said.

“This is a really exciting announcement, which will drive investment and uptake of emerging technologies, unlock the value of data, build skills for a modern economy, and enhance Government service delivery.

“We want to improve Australians’ standard of living, create jobs and make access to Government services easier.

“Twenty years ago you might have looked in the phone book to find a plumber, now we turn to Google and comparison services – we get quotes within the same day and pay software generated invoices on our mobiles. Think about how much time and administration work that saves. Australians rightly expect the Government to keep up with them, and to help chart the next step forward, and that’s exactly what we are doing with this Strategy.”

The Strategy builds on the Federal Government’s investments in infrastructure, skills, cyber security, regulations and digital trade, taking the digital economy spend to around $2 billion over the 2020‑21 and 2021‑22 Budgets, on top of the $1.67 billion Cyber Security Strategy 2020, $1 billion for JobTrainer and the $4.5 billion investment in NBN upgrades.

The full Digital Economy Strategy will be released on Budget night, alongside further measures that support and complement the Strategy.

For more information visit the Digital Economy website.

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