Australia needs a “visionary plan” to double the size and output of the local tech sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Investment Council says
The industry association for the private equity and venture capital sectors has distributed a report to politicians and policy makers based on surveys of its members that identified major barriers and key policy areas to be addressed to aid the country’s economic recovery post-coronavirus.
It found that more than 80 per cent of private capital-backed Australian companies had stopped some or all of their commercial activities during the pandemic, three-quarters had been forced to reduce their workforce and more than 65 per cent expected more job losses.
The government needed to produce a comprehensive plan for “meaningful economic reforms for long-term prosperity”, with technology to act as a cornerstone of this long-term plan.
The plan should include significant tax reform, market deregulation, a focus on innovation and skills and industrial relations reform, the AIC report said.
“A cornerstone of our national plan to secure Australia’s future economic, employment and productivity growth should be to support the acceleration and development of our domestic technology as an enabler of businesses across all sectors of our economy.”
Australia should look to double the size and output of its tech industry in the next decade, the report said.
“A stronger technology capability would represent a significant new building block in designing a future-proof Australia that generates sustainable economic and income growth for all, and positions our market with a competitive edge against other developed economies around the world,” it said.
The AIC members listed taxation reform as the top policy priority following COVID-19, followed by market deregulation and red-tape reduction, innovation, tech and skills, industrial relations reform, infrastructure spending, international competitiveness and superannuation and Australia’s ageing population.
In terms of innovation, the government needs to focus on policies that encourage Australian businesses to take risks, develop new ideas and products and find new markets, the report found. This would all centre on the role of tech in creating jobs and growing the economy,
The AIC called for the recommendations from Innovation and Science Australia’s recent 2030 report, for tech skills gaps to be identified and programs developed to fill them, and for the further use of skilled immigration as a short-term measure to fill these gaps.