Insight

$800m to nurture digital economy

In the remaining days before the Federal Budget, the Prime Minister has revealed some of the cornerstone investments the Government will be making as part of this landmark Federal Budget.

A core component, and very much in response to changing business trends in a post COVID world, the Government is investing almost $800m to enable businesses to take advantage of digital technologies to grow their businesses and create jobs.

This is in addition to the $4.5b investment in upgrading the NBN which aims to make internet connectivity ubiquitous and close the digital divide between metro and regional/rural communities.

Safety and security of our online information are underpinned by the $1.67b investment announced in August into the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy. This is the largest investment the Commonwealth has made into cybersecurity and foreshadowed this massive investment to support Australian businesses make a permanent shift towards the digital economy.

What’s in the plan:

  • $256.6m to develop a Digital Identity system (facial recognition) to access government services, with the aim of this being adopted by the private sector.
  • Additional $419.9m to fully implement the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program, allowing businesses to quickly view, update and maintain their business registry data in one location.
  • A further $28.5m to support the rollout of the Consumer Data Right to the banking and energy sectors ($120m already committed).
  • $29.2m to accelerate the rollout of 5G, including support for 5G commercial trials and testbeds in key industry sectors such as agriculture, mining, logistics and manufacturing.
  • $22.2m to expand the Australian Small Business Advisory Service – Digital Solutions program, a Digital Readiness Assessment tool and a Digital Directors training package.
  • $11.4m for a new regulatory technology commercialisation initiative to improve compliance and directly support our digital technology firms.
  • $9.6m to support fintech to export financial services and attract inward investment.
  • $6.9m for two blockchain pilots directed at reducing business compliance costs.
  • $5.9m to boost Australia’s influence on international standards.
  • $3.6m towards mandating the adoption of electronic invoicing by 1 July 2022 for all Commonwealth government agencies. The aim is to encourage greater adoption amongst businesses supplying to government and within their supply chains and to consult on options for mandatory adoption of e-invoicing by businesses.
  • $2.5m to connect workers and small and medium-sized businesses to digital skills training.
  • Consulting on making permanent the temporary reforms to allow companies to hold virtual meetings and execute documents electronically.
  • Reviewing the regulatory architecture applying to the payments system to ensure it remains fit for purpose and is capable of supporting continued innovation for the benefit of both businesses and consumers.
  • Reforming the regulation around stored-value facilities to support innovation and competition in line with the recommendations of the Council of Financial Regulators.

The adoption of digital technologies has the potential to greatly improve efficiencies and reduce administrative burdens for Australian businesses. In particular, it’s pleasing to see the Government using themselves as a test case for e-invoicing and the digital identity system. With so many businesses intersecting with Government either as providers or as reporters, this will nurture the shift towards a stronger digital economy.