Industry minister Ed Husic says the federal government’s review of the nascent critical technologies list will seek to find a new “middle path” between economic opportunity and national security risks.
Mr Husic announced the review on Monday, less than a year after the first-ever national interest blueprint was published by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The review will be used to clarify which critical technologies the government considers vital for Australia’s interest today or have the potential to become critical to the national interest in the next decade.
The current list covers 63 technologies across eight categories, many of which are considered dual use technologies that have implications for defence and security.
Nine areas of initial focus including quantum computing, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity are specifically called out for “immediate detailed analysis”.
Mr Husic said that he wanted the new “list to do a number of things”, criticising the former government for its overt focus on national security.
“One is to recognise there are a lot of technologies that can add value to Australian society,” he told InnovationAus.com.
“But there are also some that, if we don’t think them through, or if we don’t have the regulatory settings right, could be of concern.”
Mr Husic said that while national security remains “very important”, he is “not utopian or dystopian when it comes to technology”, and that the government would seek to “find that middle path”.
“We want to make sure that we’re sending the signal that these are technologies of high-value,” he said, adding that the government would use its $1 billion critical technologies fund to “back that up”.
By starting the review now, Mr Husic said the government was meeting a commitment set by the former government to release a new critical technologies list a year after the initial blueprint.
“If we want to meet that timeframe, we need to start that conversation now,” he said, adding that it is important to ensure critical technologies don’t “slip off the radar”.
The review is being conducted by the Critical Technologies Group, which has now moved from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources.
The consultation will close on 30 September 2022. You can access the consultation page here.
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