A new cross-party forum has been launched in Parliament to drive engagement and understanding on the role of technology and innovation in the future of Australia’s economy.
The Parliamentary Friendship Group on Tech and Innovation will be co-chaired by Labor MP Jerome Laxale, Liberal MP Aaron Violi, and Independent MP Allegra Spender.
It will provide a forum for industry and parliamentarians on productivity-enhancing technologies like artificial intelligence, as well as run briefings and events on the latest research and development trends, as well as economic and investment trends.
The group was launched on Wednesday at an event co-hosted by the Technology Council of Australia (TCA) and the Business Council of Australia (BCA).
The first briefing was on the functions of AI, the economic implications of AI for Australia, and best practice approaches to regulation and governance. Business representatives that were in attendance included Atlassian, Accenture, Cochlear, Google, Harrison.AI, SEEK, and Xero.
In a joint statement, the co-chairs highlighted the importance of tech and innovation to the Australian economy with around 935,000 working in tech jobs and activity which is estimated to generate $167 billion annually.
The government wants the Australian economy to support 1.2 million tech jobs by 2030, a target initially proposed by the TCA.
Tech council chief executive Kate Pounder congratulated the co-chairs on the convening of the group and flagged the importance of ensuring Parliament and industry work together to understand the opportunities and risks of new technologies.
Federal member for Bennelong, Mr Laxale declared in the statement that “tech jobs are good jobs”.
“Tech jobs are well paid, flexible and rewarding. In co-chairing the Parliamentary Friends of Tech and Innovation I hope to be able to showcase what potential this sector can provide to our workforce and national prosperity,” Mr Laxale said.
Federal member for Casey, Mr Violi said “we’ve seen an exciting surge in technology and innovation over recent years that presents many opportunities to improve national productivity”.
“I’m looking forward to bridging the gap between industry and policymakers and showcasing the many opportunities to build our digital economy,” Mr Violi said.
Mr Violi is also working on standing up a technology assessment office in collaboration with another Labor MP Dr Daniel Mulino. It is proposed that this office would publish reports to make information on cutting-edge technologies, such as AI and quantum, more accessible to policymakers.
Federal member for Wentworth Allegra Spender expressed similar sentiment, highlighting the importance of technology to protecting the environment.
“To unlock this future, parliamentarians need to better understand and enable the opportunities unlocked by technology, and the role government can play. This parliamentary friendship group will facilitate exactly those conversations,” Ms Spender said.
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