Budget 2018: A tech round-up

James Riley
Editorial Director

The federal government has dished out funding for supercomputers, drones, FinTech and online safety awareness campaigns as part of its federal budget.

Delivered by Treasurer Scott Morrison in Canberra on Tuesday night, the federal budget included a number of smaller technology and innovation-focused policies accompanying bigger announcements on the R&D tax incentive and national space agency.

Included in the new funding announcements is additional funding for the development of supercomputers, new cash to guide drone regulations, and additional funding for the eSafety Commissioner.

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A new cyber security operations centre will also be established in Canberra to protect the parliamentary computing network.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner has received an additional $14.2 million over four years to assist it in its new role overseeing online safety for all Australians, not just children.

The cash injection will also assist the office in administering the new civil penalty regime for the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, while $2.5 million will fund the continuation of the Certified Providers program and the eSafety Women program.

With the funding, the office will be holding face-to-face presentations and new online resources to “empower frontline workers to assist women experiencing technology-facilitated abuse”, the government said.

It will also go towards certifying new trainers to present these safety courses in schools, and supporting vulnerable Australians experiencing online abuse.

The government will also be providing $40 million to assist Australian small and medium businesses to expand overseas and export to global markets, the budget revealed.

From this, $20 million over four years will go towards the creation of new SME Export Hubs to “enable cooperation and boost export capability of local and regional business, through support to develop collective brands, leveraging local infrastructure to scale business operations, and positioning regional businesses to participate in global supply chains”.

The government has announced that it will also be expanding the eligibility of its existing Global Innovation Strategy to allow Australian businesses and researchers in any country around the world to access its grants program, while it will also be launching a new funding stream focused exclusively on those based in Asia.

The newly created Department of Home Affairs will receive $130 million to improve its ICT infrastructure, paving the way for an upgrade to the capacity and performance of its connected information environment and its analytics and threat management capabilities and the establishment of the platform for the enterprise identity management system.

The budget also allocated $1 million over two years for a review of existing domestic and international measures of innovation in an effort to develop new metrics in the area.

This will “ensure that innovation is accurately measured in Australia to guide evidence-based policy and better target investment in innovation as a driver of economic growth”.

The $1 million in funding will come from existing resources in the Department of Innovation.

In previously unannounced funding, $70 million was provided this financial year to replace and upgrade Australia’s computing and data capability at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.

A further $4.5 million over four years will go towards encouraging more women to enter STEM studies and careers, contributing to the Women in Science Strategy, a new Women in STEM Ambassador and to the development of the STEM Choices resources kit.

The Department of Parliamentary Services will be receiving $9 million over four years to establish a cyber security operations centre, which will improve the cyber security of the parliamentary computing network.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority will receive a $2.9 million boost thanks to the budget in order to manage safety standards and associated compliance for recreational and commercial drone technologies in Australia.

The budget also included a measly $100,000 will be going towards promoting Australia internationally as a FinTech destination.

Also included in the budget was $600,000 in funding in 2018-19 for the development of a business case to modernise IP Australia’s patent management system and streamline access to its services through digital channels.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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