Treasurer Josh Frydenberg wants new businesses in Australia to be "born digital", and his government has today announced almost $800 million worth of investments to help make that vision a reality.
Following major investments into cyber security and the national broadband network (NBN) roll-out, Frydenberg and Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced wide-reaching plans to accelerate the uptake of 5G technology while fostering skills and capabilities for the digital age.
"Australia has arguably the most advanced real-time payments system in the world - that is the digital infrastructure through our New Payments Platform that enables people to get paid instantaneously," the PM said.
"For that to happen, we need our businesses to be online - we need them to be digital businesses, and in recent months we have seen through COVID a rapid acceleration, produced by necessity of businesses really engaging and upgrading their digital capabilities."
Treasurer Frydenberg highlighted nine out of every 10 Australian businesses have used technology to adapt in 2020.
"Indeed it has been said that we have made five years worth of gains in advancing the use of technology in this country, around the world, in just a matter of eight weeks," he said.
"Zoom meetings have eplaced air travel, telehealth consultations have replaced GP visits, and e-commerce which was already gaining pace has moved to the next level."
But today's announcement wasn't just about congratulating Australians on their adoption of digital technology, but rather the implementation of the JobMaker Digital Business Plan to create new opportunities and promote employment growth.
"The Plan supports Australia's economic recovery by removing out-dated regulatory barriers, boosting the capability of small businesses and backs the uptake of technology across the economy," Prime Minister Morrison said.
"Our Digital Infrastructure package is estimated to increase Australia's GDP by $6.4 billion a year by 2024 and around $1.5 billion of this additional economic activity is estimated to flow to regional Australia each year," added Treasurer Frydenberg.
Key elements of the Digital Business Plan include:
- $256.6 million to develop a Digital Identity system to enable more secure and convenient engagement with government services, and in future, the private sector. Digital identity is already being used by over 1.6 million Australians and 1.16 million businesses to access over 70 government services.
- A further $419.9 million to enable the full implementation of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program, allowing businesses to quickly view, update and maintain their business registry data in one location;
- A further $28.5 million to support the rollout of the Consumer Data Right to the banking and energy sectors, which is in addition to the more than $120 million already committed;
- $29.2 million to accelerate the rollout of 5G, including an initiative to invest in 5G commercial trials and testbeds in key industry sectors such as agriculture, mining, logistics and manufacturing.
- $22.2 million to support small business operators take advantage of digital technologies through an expansion of the Australian Small Business Advisory Service Digital Solutions program, a Digital Readiness Assessment tool and a Digital Directors training package;
- $11.4 million for a new regulatory technology commercialisation initiative to improve compliance and directly support our digital technology firms;
- $9.6 million to support fintechs to export financial services and attract inward investment;
- $6.9 million for two blockchain pilots directed at reducing business compliance costs;
- $5.9 million to boost Australia's influence on international standards;
- $3.6 million towards mandating the adoption of electronic invoicing by 1 July 2022 for all Commonwealth government agencies to encourage greater adoption amongst businesses supplying to government and within their supply chains, and to consult on options for mandatory adoption of e-invoicing by businesses;
- $2.5 million to connect workers and small and medium sized businesses to digital skills training;
- Consulting on making permanent the temporary reforms to allow companies to hold virtual meetings and execute documents electronically;
- Reviewing the regulatory architecture applying to the payments system to ensure it remains fit for purpose and is capable of supporting continued innovation for the benefit both businesses and consumers; and
- Reforming the regulation around stored-value facilities to support innovation and competition in line with the recommendations of the Council of Financial Regulators.
These initiatives are in addition to the Federal Government's $4.5 billion NBN investment plan to bring ultra-fast broadband to millions of families and businesses across the economy over the next two years.
They also complement our actions to build digital skills and to improve trust and security in the digital economy, including through the $1.67 billion investment in the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy and investments in online safety.
Updated at 12:05pm AEST on 29 September.
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