Grant Thornton welcomes the Government announcement to continue investment in the digitisation of Government services, providing leadership and supporting growth in the Australian ICT sector.
However lack of investment in emerging technologies and plans to act outside a global sector leaves the industry at a bit of loss.
“The government’s proposals to spend $485M to revamp the e-health records system and $250M to upgrade the Australian Bureau of Statistics ICT systems provides a welcome boost to the Australian ICT sector,” said Simon Coulton, National Head of Technology and Media, Grant Thornton Australia.
On the other hand we’re disappointed we didn’t see significant initiatives encouraging innovation or much needed incentives for the private sector to early invest in emerging technologies, particularly for mid-sized businesses.
“A large number of Australian businesses are facing significant disruption from emerging technologies, business models and overseas competitors. Many businesses at threat of disruption are in industry sectors that have traditionally been a strength to the Australian economy,” said Mr Coulton.
Incentives such as faster tax depreciation and reduced tax rates should have been extended to mid-size businesses instead of limiting these benefits to very small businesses.
“We want to see initiatives that provide the broader economy with the biggest bang for buck. Initiatives that encourage investment in new technologies to improve the productivity and competitiveness in our key industry sectors like health, manufacturing, education and services. This in turn would provide indirect support to Australia’s ICT sector. I don’t think the ICT sector is looking for or expects direct hand-outs,” said Mr Coulton.
Furthermore, the announcement that Australia will not wait for the OECD and effectively go it alone to address alleged tax avoidance is sending some dangerous messages to the ICT sector.
“At a time when we need to be encouraging investment in STEM* skills and related businesses, we should be more careful not to send a message that Australia is not a good place for large technology companies to do business.
“We’re supportive of updating our tax system so that it’s relevant in today’s digital age, but this would best be done in a measured way, in conjunction with global OECD initiatives and by taking a global view of what is essentially a global industry,” said Mr Coulton.
*Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM)
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