Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told business leaders to expect more government investment in digital projects and skills development, promising there is “more to come” beyond the $800 million invested so far in developing Australia’s digital economy.
Mr Morrison has set a goal for Australia to become a global digital leader by 2030 but has framed the challenge as one of improving access and consumption of digital technology rather than innovation.
A Digital Technology Taskforce, housed within PM&C, was established in 2019 to inform Australia’s Digital Strategy and coordinate the whole of government digital business plan.
So far, the Morrison Government has committed $800 million to measures it says are designed to help businesses take advantage of digital technologies, with the lion’s share going to amalgamating business registry data and the government’s digital identity programs.
In an address to the Business Council of Australia on Tuesday night, Mr Morrison referenced the $800 million delivered in last year’s budget and told business leaders “there’ll be more to come” in the lead up to the 11 May Budget.
“[We] are delivering on our strategy to make Australia a leading digital economy and society by 2030,” Mr Morrison said.
“Now we’ll have more to say about that between now and the Budget but tonight I just want to say COVID-19 we know accelerated the take up of digital technology and highlighted the role it can play to support and enhance business operations and the delivery of government services.
“And the Budget again will go further.”
The PM also flagged more investment in digital skills, including changes to the National Skills Agreement.
In January the Productivity Commission proposed a new national skills agreement, warning the targets of the existing National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development were “unrealistic” after a lack of government support.
The government acknowledged in January that the 2012 agreement was “overdue” for a refresh and began negotiating with states and territories on a replacement.
On Tuesday, Mr Morrison said digital skills will inform the next agreement.
“The next Skills Agreement will ensure we continue to deliver the skills for the future workforce, together helping businesses develop the skills they need to engage in the digital economy,” he said.