The federal government’s digital economy push is about tech adoption not tech creation, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
During an address to the Australian e-Commerce Virtual Summit, Mr Morrison urged businesses to “keep the foot on the digital accelerator” as he summarised the government’s recent policies around digital transformation.
The Prime Minister stressed on multiple occasions that this is not about creating a new Silicon Valley, but rather about everyday, non-tech businesses adopting new technologies and the government putting in place the regulations to facilitate this.
“All of the digital transformation, it’s not an Everest we have to climb. We’re not just doing it because it’s there. We’re not trying to create the next Silicon Valley here in Australia. That’s not it,” Mr Morrison said.
“We’ve just got to be the best at adopting. Taking it on board. Making it work for us. And we’re really good at that.
“We’re doing it because we’re practical people and we get it. It’s a massive productivity boost to our economy. The biggest game-changer, arguably, the world has ever seen. You don’t have to be a tech-head. You don’t have to be someone who was totally absorbed in the technology of this to understand its implications. It’s a massive priority of my government.”
The government wants to build an economy where sectors are “at the global frontier of technological adaptation”, the Prime Minister said.
“Where workers across the country, including in regional areas, have the digital skills and capabilities they need to take advantage of new and changing job opportunities and where we have a trusted, secure and safe online world for Australians, particularly our kids also, to keep them safe from the dark forces we know are out there,” Mr Morrison said.
“But also our businesses and the essential services upon which we all depend each and every day.”
According to the government, in the first week of lockdown earlier this year, more than 40 percent of Australian SMEs bought or installed software for remote working, while a further 22 percent said they were looking to do so. This is the sort of digital drive that Mr Morrison said he wants to encourage.
“Our challenge is to keep the foot on the digital accelerator. As we emerge on the other side of this pandemic, whilst we can marvel at the innovation and the digital acceleration, the bigger picture is that our economy has taken a massive hit,” he said.
“The digital economy is central to these tasks, to creating the jobs that Australians need. The speed of change in the digital economy means that our training system needs to be fast and responsible. The pace of technological change means people are more likely to need to regularly reskill.”
The federal budget included an $800 million digital-focused package, which was about “upgrading the circuit boards of the economy”, Mr Morrison said. The bulk of the funding will be going towards the modernisation of business registers, and the government’s digital identity scheme.